Plan for Long-Term Care With VA Benefits

Can veteran’s benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs be used to help subsidize the cost of long-term care? The answer is, as with most governmental things, complicated. A much-underused pension benefit known as Aid and Attendance can provide some money to cover costs for assistance performing everyday tasks. Aid and Attendance benefits may even be available to veterans with incomes above the eligibility limit if they have a large enough medical expense(s) for which they receive no reimbursement.

VA benefits also pay for those veterans without service-related disabilities but who cannot pay the cost of necessary care if their income level does not exceed eligibility requirements. Aid and Attendance as a pension benefit are available to those veterans who served a minimum of ninety days with at least one day during wartime. However, the veteran did not have to see actual combat. Find out about eligibility requirements here at the website. All VA benefits have a service requirement to qualify for long-term care, and the veteran applicant must have an honorable or general discharge to qualify for these benefits.

Typically, long-term care services occur in veterans’ home settings as care in facilities is limited due to availability, staffing issues, and an overall failure of the US long-term care marketplace to provide quality long-term facility care at reasonable prices. At-home care has two programs that help veterans.

What are Veteran Aid and Attendance Benefits?

The first, as mentioned, is Aid and Attendance Benefits (A&A Benefits) coupled with Housebound allowance. This program provides cash to eligible veterans with disabilities and their surviving spouses to purchase at-home and community-based services. These services include caregiver assistance and personal care. The cash is a supplement to existing eligible veterans’ pension benefits.

What is the Veteran Directed Care Program?

The second is the Veteran Directed Care Program, providing veterans with a flexible budget for purchasing services like counseling or other support provided by the Aging Network in partnership with the VA. The program is available to veterans of all ages who need at-home and community-based services in a consumer-directed way and provide help with daily living activities and more.

While not all long-term care provision is in a home setting, many veterans are most comfortable receiving aid in their own homes, mainly if a spouse or other family member is available for ad hoc caregiving.  For those veterans who live alone, a nursing home, assisted living center, adult health center, or private homes where caregivers support a small group of veterans may be a better solution. Some of these facilities will be run directly by the VA, while others are VA-approved state or community organizations.

Long-term care services for qualifying sick or disabled veterans include:

  • 24/7 nursing and medical care
  • Help with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, personal care, dressing, taking medications, and making meals
  • Pain management and comfort care
  • Caregiver support

Planning for long-term care through VA benefits is a complex set of tasks. The most comprehensive and best solutions generally come from elder law attorneys who specialize in VA benefits. In addition to VA long-term care benefits, your attorney may be able to ensure additional services not covered by the VA but may be available through Medicare, Medicaid, or a private insurance policy. Your attorney also understands techniques of transferring wealth, including the three-year look-back rule and how it affects a veteran’s eligibility for VA long-term care benefits.

The Importance of Long-term Care Planning for Veterans

According to Forbes, many veterans miss out on long-term care benefits with a mere five percent application rate for the assistance funds because veterans are unaware of the programs. Knowing about the programs and if you qualify, locating the necessary paperwork, filling it out, and filing applications can be daunting. Incorrectly filed applications can delay the process of receiving benefits. is an online free resource for veterans and their surviving spouses and families. The website details A&A Pension Benefits and how to apply.

If you are a veteran or have a loved one who is a veteran, it is imperative to maximize all long-term care benefits due to them for their military service. The sooner you can identify what is available to you, the quicker you can fill out the applications and get the process of receiving VA long-term care benefits moving forward. As with all long-term planning, you will typically have a better outcome if you address the situation early. We hope you found this article helpful. Contact our Reno office by calling us at (775) 853-5700 today and find out about the assistance funds that may be due to you for long-term care.

Elder Living, Healthcare

Don’t Wait for a Crisis to Discuss Long-Term Care With Your Parent

It is unclear whether or not your parent has a plan in place for long-term care. It is a difficult topic to broach; no one wants to talk about death and the financial realities that come with aging.  Instead of having a proactive conversation early in a parent’s aging process, most families have a reactive discussion under high levels of stress and emotions while their parent is experiencing an adverse health event.  The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) has reported that 85 percent of the time long-term care decisions are made during a medical crisis. The message is clear, be proactive and start discussing the important financial questions with your parent.

Prepare Yourself

Your parent will feel more comfortable and at ease if you have processed your feelings before talking to them.  Conduct research so that you are knowledgeable enough to present a clear and concise set of options for your parent.  Having options allows your parent and family to make decisions and feel in control of the process.  You are seeking progress, not perfection. It may not all become settled in one conversation, but the price of silence about your parent’s plan may be very costly to you.

Review Documents

Two of the most critical personal legal documents are a durable power of attorney (DPOA) and a healthcare proxy. All older adults should have these documents as it gives legal authority to a designated representative to make financial, legal, and health care decisions on your parent’s behalf. If your parent does not have a DPOA and becomes incapacitated, you will have to go to court to get appointed as your parent’s guardian which can be a complicated legal process at a time when your energy is better spent in the care and decision making for your parent. If they do not have a DPOA and health care proxy in place make arrangements for them to meet with a trusted elder law attorney to properly draft the legal documents.

Often a parent will have a will, retirement account information, and insurance policies that have not been revisited or updated in years, sometimes decades. When was the last time your parent reviewed beneficiary designations? Family circumstances change, and the birth of a child, death, or divorce can affect how your parent may want beneficiaries designated. It is best to review financial and insurance data annually with your parent and make adjustments if necessary. For example, if the parent’s children are grown it might be best to cut back on the amount of life insurance they carry to save money on annual premiums.

Long Term Care Plan

Address the issue of long-term care. According to the PBS, a full 70 percent of all seniors will need some long-term care as they age. Even if your parent is healthy today odds are they will require long-term care and the costs are staggering. Some life insurance companies will add a long-term care rider to an existing policy. Medicaid also can cover some long-term care costs, but neither standard health insurance nor Medicare will cover your parent’s long-term care expenses.

Meet the Team

Ask your parent about their financial advisors and request a brief introduction to them.  Find out who they are and how you might contact them in the event your parent is unable to do so. This information will allow you to keep an eye on your parent’s accounts and be confident the advisors are trusted, objective, and well versed in elder financial issues. Oversight by you in a slightly detached way provides your parent privacy and independence about their finances but allows you to protect them from unscrupulous advisors. 

Understand Filing System

The last thing you need to discuss is where this vital information is filed so that before a crisis hits you know where to find the important documents, online passwords, and forms of ID you will need to facilitate your parents well being. While you do not have to see all the specific contents of the information, particularly the financials, knowing where they keep the data is critical in a crisis. Remember that as your parent ages they may start to change the location of the information. Check with them a couple of times a year to ensure the information is still in the same place and physically look to be sure it is.

Discussing your parent’s strategy is best begun while they are healthy.  Proactive planning is the best way to help your family as your parents age.  Contact our office today and schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help you and your family.