How to Secure VA Benefits for Senior Home Care

A little-known benefit from the Veterans Benefits Administration called Assistance Aid and Pension is available to help qualified veterans and their spouses receive assistance with daily living tasks to safely age instead.

The benefit is a monthly, tax-free cash payment available to certain financially needy veterans and their survivors. It is designed for veterans who do not have a service-connected disability as a result of their military service and is available to those who need the “help and assistance” of another person for their routine daily activities on an ongoing basis.

These five basic activities of daily living, or ADLs, include eating, bathing / grooming, dressing, continence (using the bathroom), and mobility (moving around, walking). Home care agencies provide assistants who can help those who need help with activities of daily living. Help and Assistance helps veterans and their spouses pay for that assistance.

To qualify, a veteran, or the surviving spouse of a veteran, must meet three levels of criteria or what we call the three “Ms.”

Military service is the first consideration. A veteran, or the surviving spouse of a veteran, must have served at least 90 days on active duty, at least one day during the war. This must include an honorable or general discharge. (Persian Gulf War veterans must have two years of active duty or the entire period for which they were called up for active duty.)

A medical condition is the second criterion.. It also requires a non-service-related medical problem that causes people to need help with activities of daily living.

Money is the third consideration. Individuals (or married couples) must have a net worth of less than $ 130,773. (limit established by Congress 12.1.2020). The principal residence and the value of the car are not counted as part of the net worth. Ongoing non-reimbursable medical and long-term care expenses can also reduce countable income.

Service is also required during one of the VA-defined wartime periods. These dates include World War II, from December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946; The Korean Conflict, June 27, 1950 to January 31, 1955; The Vietnam Era, August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975; Veterans who served between February 28, 1961 and August 5, 1964 must have served “in the country” (Vietnam). And the Persian Gulf War, on August 2, 1990, a date yet to be determined.

Social workers play a key role in helping veterans and their families understand the nuances of getting the assistance and assistance benefit. Usually the trigger that involves social workers is the hospital stay. When older patients transition from a hospital or rehab center to a home setting, they often need help with daily activities.

A successful example of a veteran who was able to obtain and use these benefits was Albert Warren, a Korean veteran. He was a patient at a rehab center in Texas. Widowed, he was referred to home care through the VetAssist Program. He was able to live at home for seven years before he passed away at age 86.

A 90-year-old woman, Catherine DeNova and her daughter, were also able to obtain the attendance and assistance pension benefits also through VetAssist. DeNova had a pacemaker and suffered from congestive heart failure. She was the surviving wife of a WWII veteran. She had relied solely on her daughter to manage her care. They secured home care, improved Catherine’s quality of life, and provided respite care for her daughter. Ms. DeNova continued to receive her VA benefits for private home care for almost two years before passing away.

A social worker can help veterans, their surviving spouses, and their families obtain the appropriate information to determine if the person qualifies for the attendance and assistance pension. They can also help refer the patient to an agency to assist with the processing of documentation to ensure a positive result in the shortest time possible.

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