Paying for Veterans Housing: Pension, Aid and Attendance and Housebound Benefit
|Written by Chris Hawkins|
SeniorLiving.Org Expert on Senior Care & Assisted Living
Are you or your loved one leaving valuable VA benefits on the table?
As a Veteran, you may qualify for money that can help pay the cost of a senior living community such as assisted living and nursing home and even in-home care. These benefits include VA pension, Aid and Attendance Program, and the Housebound benefit. Other qualifying recipients of these benefits include Veteran spouses, and surviving spouses.
A pension is paid to wartime Veterans with limited or no income, who are 65 or older, or under 65 and are permanently and totally disabled. Others who may qualify include Veterans who are nursing home patients or who are receiving Social Security disability payments.
You must meet these additional eligibility requirements:
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- You must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. AND
- Served at least 90 days of active military service and “at least 1 day was during a war time period.” AND
- Your income for VA purposes must be below the maximum annual pension rate as set by Congress.
In addition to the above requirements, your yearly income must be less than $12,256 with spouse or child or $16,051 with one dependent. You can find out about other income deductions (e.g. medical expenses) on the VA’s website.
Unremarried spouses and unmarried children who meet age, income and/or disability requirements may be eligible for Survivors' (Death) Pension.
Veterans who are more seriously disabled may qualify for either Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits. You cannot receive the Aid and Attendance benefit and the Housebound benefit at the same time.
Aid and Attendance
This is a benefit paid in addition to a VA pension and can help offset the cost of assisted living, nursing homes and other senior living options. Even if your income is above the minimum required for VA pension, you may still qualify for Aid and Attendance if you have large medical expenses such as nursing home or assisted living costs.
Here are the basic eligibility requirements:
- The Veteran had to serve at least 90 days of active military duty and at least one day or service during wartime.
- The Veteran’s discharge conditions must be anything other than dishonorable.
- The Veteran or spouse require assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as dressing, bathing, feeding, etc.; need help with prosthetic devices. OR
- You are bedridden and your disabilities require that you remain in bed “apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment. OR
- You are a nursing home patient with mental or physical incapacity. OR
- Your visual acuity is 5/200 or less in both eyes, or “concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.
If these requirements are met, VA determines the eligibility benefit by adjusting for un-reimbursed medical expenses (home health care, nursing home care, assisted living, et al) from your total household income.
“If the remaining income amount falls below the annual income threshold for the Aid and Attendance benefit, VA pays the difference between the claimant’s household income and the Aid and Attendance threshold.”
Here are the income thresholds:
- Less than $20,447 without dependents
- $24,239 with one dependent
- Surviving spouse (no dependents) income must be $13,138
- Spouse of a living Veteran $16,056
The survivor may not receive Aid and Attendance benefits and Housebound benefits at the same time.
The Housebound benefit is a payment in addition to basic pension for those who are receiving care in-home or in the home of a family member. But you first must establish eligibility for the basic VA pension. Housebound benefits are based on a higher income limit than a VA pension. So even if income ineligible for a pension, a Veteran could qualify for Housebound benefits.
Veterans may be eligible for the Housebound benefits if:
1) The Veteran has a “single permanent disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling AND due to such disability, he/she is permanently and substantially confined to his/her immediate premises, OR,
2) “The Veteran has a single permanent disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling AND, another disability, or disabilities evaluated as 60 percent or more disabling.”
In addition, your income must be less than $14,978 without dependents or $18,773 with dependents.
Applying for Aid and Attendance and Housebound Benefits
Contact your VA regional office. This should be the same office where you applied for pension benefits.
You can also apply online using the VA’s VONAPP (Veterans On Line Application) website. Form 21-526, is the Veteran's Application for Compensation and/or Pension.
Be prepared to show proof of health care needs with a detailed physician's report. The needs addressed should be those outlined above under the requirements for Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits. This includes “how well the individual gets around, where the individual goes, and what he or she is able to do during a typical day.” The VA’s Form 21-2680 can be used for this.
Have your medical expenses ready to show the VA. This can include cost of home health care, assisted living, or nursing homes.
To get more information on the VA, Veterans and senior living options, go to the SeniorLiving.org “Senior Veterans Handbook.” In addition, see our listing of military retirement communities at the bottom of “Senior Housing for Veterans.”
Updated: May 30, 2012