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Veteran Financial Aid for Long-term Care and Home Healthcare

Over 1.5 million wartime service veterans and their surviving spouses are eligible for billions of dollars a years in VA pensions to help pay for long-term care such as assisted living, nursing home and home care. The pensions are called "Aid and Attendance" and "Housebound." Many are not getting the benefits they are eligible for, because they lack the knowledge of what programs are available and don't know how to file for pension benefits.

Although many veterans are eligible for pensions, filling out the necessary forms and understanding the filing process can often be overwhelming and frustrating.

Author Joseph Scott McCarthy helps make the process easier with his book, "Checks for Vets." In addition to containing information about veteran pensions, the book contains samples of the forms veterans and their caregivers need, as well as tips for successfully filing a claim for an Aid and Attendance or Housebound pension.

Q. Can caregivers get any financial assistance for caring for a vet? Can they get paid for care giving?

Yes, both professional caregivers and spouses or family members of veterans may get tax-free money for caring for veterans or surviving spouses. The VA program is called Aid and Attendance or Housebound pension and requires the claimant to meet eligibility to receive the money. A veteran with a dependent for example, may receive as much as $23,000/year to use to pay for un-reimbursed long-term care.

Q. Do VA benefits cover nursing homes or assisted living?

A. Yes, VA pension benefits can cover a portion of nursing home care if the veteran or surviving spouse is paying for the care out-of-pocket. Since with some exceptions, assisted living is un-reimbursed by insurance, the money from the VA pension can be the difference that allows the veteran or surviving spouse to afford the cost of assisted living.

When you add the social security income sources to the VA pension, many claimants can afford the monthly bill for assisted living. For example, if a veteran has $1,400 per month in social security and pensions and receives the maximum pension ($1,644 per month, with no dependent) the total money available is $3,044 per month and should cover most of the monthly bill from assisted living.

Q. Does it have to be a VA facility, or can the vet and/or caregivers choose any nursing home they want?

A. The vet can choose any assisted living, home care provider, or nursing home they want. It does not have to be a VA facility. The provider does not have to be VA certified and any physician can document the care-needs of the claimant.

Q. Do any vet programs cover the cost of home health care?

A. Yes, the Aid and Attendance and Housebound Pension is available in the home provided all eligibility criteria is met. The pension can pay for the care in the home, assisted living, independent living, and nursing homes.

Q. What is the difference between Aid and Attendance and Housebound pensions?

A. The care-needs and the rates of payment are the main difference. For an Aid and Attendance pension, the claimant must need activities of daily living such as dressing or bathing. For the Housebound pension, the claimant must be substantially confined to his or her immediate premises because of a permanent disability. For example, your sister, a veteran of the Korean War, is a widow, is confined to her home due to a permanent disability, but is able to provide her own activities of daily living care. Because of her disability, she requires oxygen therapy, has difficulty walking for which she uses a wheeled walker, and her physician ordered her driver's license taken away. She is paying out of pocket for transportation services in order to go food shopping and to keep doctors' appointments. Since her disability caused her to lose her driver's license, and she now needs transportation services to leave her home, she satisfies the care-needs qualification for Housebound benefits.