Navigating the path to receiving home care-based Veterans Affairs benefits can be as daunting as it is necessary. For our Veterans, their loved ones, and potential surviving spouses, understanding this maze of support is crucial in ensuring that those who served our nation can live with dignity and comfort in their later years.
This guide aims to simplify, highlight, and explain how to obtain these well-deserved benefits, with a focus on home care, Aid and Attendance benefits, and what’s available for Veteran spouses.
How Home Care-Based Veterans Affairs Benefits Work
If you’re a Veteran or a family member of a Veteran, you may be wondering what kind of home care and home health care benefits they can receive. Home care-based benefits for Veterans are designed to support those who prefer to stay in the comfort of their homes but require assistance with daily activities due to health-related issues. These benefits can also extend to those in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, ensuring that regardless of where a Veteran resides, they have support.
The Perks of Veterans Home Care Benefits
Whether a Veteran is living at home, in a nursing home, or in an assisted living facility, there are specific benefits available to aid their needs. It’s important to understand what these are and how they can be tailored to each living situation.
- Nursing Homes: For Veterans in nursing homes, benefits can cover a range of health care services, including nursing care, physical therapy, and other rehabilitative services. The VA may also provide financial assistance to help cover the cost of nursing home care for eligible Veterans.
- Assisted Living Facilities: Veterans residing in assisted living facilities might be eligible for benefits that assist with the cost of these facilities, focusing on assistance with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and medication management. The VA does not pay directly for Veterans to live in assisted living facilities. For example, it does not cover room and board in such a facility. Veterans can also receive Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) through the VA while they reside in assisted living facilities. Some of those services are available through the Standard Medical Benefits Package, but not all of them are.
- Home Care: For Veterans who prefer to stay at home, home care benefits can include a visiting home health assistant, aid for personal care, and even help with household chores. This support aims to make living at home as safe and comfortable as possible.
- Home Health Care: Similarly, home health care for Veterans is available through Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies. Some healthcare services Veterans receive at home and in the community are part of the VA’s VHA Standard Medical Benefits Package, including palliative care, skilled home health care, and home-based primary care, if the Veteran is eligible for the service.
How Aid and Attendance Benefits Work
A significant portion of Veteran care benefits is the Aid and Attendance (A&A) benefit, which is perhaps one of the most invaluable supports offered to our Veterans and their spouses. This pension benefit is designed for Veterans and surviving spouses who require the aid and attendance of another person for personal daily living activities.
Who Is Eligible?
To be eligible for Aid and Attendance, the Veteran must:
- Have served at least 90 days on active duty (with at least one day during a wartime period), were honorably discharged, and currently meet the net worth limits can qualify. Be at least 65 years old or
- Have a permanent and total disability or
- Be a nursing home patient for long-term care because of a disability or
- Be a recipient of Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income
Veterans who served must also:
- Need the assistance of another person to help perform daily activities like feeding, dressing, and bathing or
- Spend large portions of the day in bed due to an illness or
- Be a nursing home resident due to the loss of physical or mental abilities related to a disability or
- Have limited eyesight — even with the aid of glasses or contact lenses, they only have 5/200 vision or less in both eyes, or their concentric contraction is five degrees or less
What Does A&A Cover?
The A&A benefit can cover costs associated with in-home care, professional care in assisted living facilities, or even nursing home expenses. Specifically, it’s there to assist those who need help performing everyday tasks, such as feeding, bathing, and dressing, or who need assistance due to a physical or cognitive condition like Alzheimer’s.
How to Apply for Aid and Attendance Benefits
You can go directly through the VA to receive home care Veteran benefits. Achieve this by:
- Gathering Documentation: You’ll need the Veteran’s discharge or separation papers, medical evidence of the need for Aid and Attendance, and proof of income and assets.
- Completing the Application: The application process involves filling out VA Form 21-2680 for the Veteran or VA Form 21-534 for a surviving spouse. Sometimes, a visit by a VA representative to the home may be required as part of the assessment.
- Submitting the Application You can apply by mailing the completed forms along with the necessary documentation to the pension management center (PMC) of your state. Alternatively, you can apply in person at your local VA office.
Despite these options, however, going straight to the VA means that you might not be exploring all of your or your veteran’s possible care options. At AVCC, we will work with you and with home care providers to help you or your veteran receive the services they need to get through the day. Your veteran did their military service, including active duty service, and now we can help them reap the benefits they are entitled to.
Navigating Veteran Spouse Benefits
It’s not just Veterans who can receive benefits; their spouses, too, are entitled to support, both while the Veteran is living and after they have passed away. These benefits, while they can vary in type and amount, are crucial in supporting spouses through home care needs or in assisted living situations. They include:
- Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC): For surviving spouses of Veterans who died in the line of duty or from service-connected disabilities.
- Survivors Pension: Available to low-income, surviving spouses of wartime Veterans.
- Aid and Attendance for Spouses: Surviving spouses of Veterans may also be eligible for Aid and Attendance benefits if they meet certain eligibility criteria, providing them with necessary funds for in-home care or assistance in living facilities.
How Spouses Can Apply
The application process for spouses seeking benefits mirrors that of Veterans, requiring accurate documentation, application forms (VA Form 21-534 for surviving spouses), and patience. For spouses, proving the necessity of care and the connection of the Veteran’s service to the need for benefits is crucial.
The Bottom Line
For our senior-aged Veterans and their spouses, understanding and accessing the home care-based Veterans Affairs benefits designed to support them can make a significant difference in their quality of life. Yet, navigating these benefits can be overwhelming. Remember, you are not alone in this journey. The VA, alongside various Veterans service organizations, stands ready to assist with applications, answers, and support.
Encouraging Veterans and their families to seek out these benefits is not just about accessing financial support or medical care; it’s about honoring their service with the dignity, respect, and care they deserve. Whether you’re a Veteran, a loving spouse, or a caring family member, taking the first step towards understanding and applying for these benefits is a brave and necessary one. For those who have given so much, it’s our opportunity to give back in their time of need.
Find Top-Quality Home Care Services With AVCC
Let AVCC guide you through the complexities of home care-based Veterans Affairs benefits, ensuring Veterans and their loved ones receive the dignified support they deserve. Contact us now to explore the comprehensive care options available, ensuring every Veteran can live comfortably and with dignity in their desired setting.