November 11th is Veterans Day – how are you going to honor our Veterans this year?
One way each of us can thank the veterans in our lives is to make sure they are aware of the benefits that they have earned as a result of their service to our country. Many, if not most, veterans do not know that they have earned a very important benefit that helps veterans and their spouses pay for in-home health care, assisted living care, or nursing home care. The benefits are known as “Housebound” and “Aid and Attendance” benefits.
Millions of veterans are eligible for the benefit, yet millions of veterans are failing to take advantage of this benefit. There are 2.3 million World War II veterans, 2.6 million Korean War Veterans and 7.7 million Vietnam veterans living in this country. Approximately 9.3 million veterans are 65 and older, and 6 million veterans have a disability. Yet only 105,000 veterans were using this benefit last year.
Why are so many veterans not taking advantage of this benefit?
Anchor Besides simply being unaware that the benefit even exists, some veterans may assume that they are ineligible because they do not have a service-related injury. However, unlike with certain other veterans benefits, eligibility is not dependent on service-related injuries. I talked to one daughter recently who thought her widowed mother would not be eligible because back in the 1980s her father had applied and been denied for certain veterans benefits. The eligibility test for “Aid and Attendance” and “Housebound” benefits is completely separate and distinct from the test for other veterans benefits, and much more straightforward. This woman’s mother easily met the eligibility requirements but did not even know they were available.
If a veteran qualifies, the “Aid and Attendance” benefit can provide a monthly benefit up to $1,644 for a single veteran, $1,056 for the widowed spouse of a veteran, and $1,944 for a couple. The greatest thing about the “Aid and Attendance” benefit is that it can help someone stay in their home, or the home of a loved one, rather than move into an assisted living or nursing home facility.
There are net worth and income criteria that must be met to be eligible, but never assume that a veteran is not eligible. There are several expense items, particularly unreimbursed medical expenses and the cost of an assisted living facility, that can be deducted that significantly reduce income. Some assets are considered exempt and are not counted in one’s net worth, and there are also planning options allowed by the Veterans Administration to reduce one’s countable net worth to become eligible.
In observance of Veterans Days this year, if you know an elderly veteran – family member, friend, neighbor – please mention this benefit to them so that they can get the care that they have earned and that