As Veterans Day approaches, we honor all who have served in the military and recognize the great sacrifices Veterans and their families have made. As a senior living community, did you know there may be current Veteran residents who qualify for the VA’s Aid and Attendance benefit and do not know it? This is a valuable, but complex, benefit for current and prospective Veterans in your community to help pay for senior care.
Understanding the Aid and Attendance benefit is not only beneficial to your residents, but it can help open more doors for Veterans to move into your community and receive the care that they need. For example, one of the most common misconceptions of the Aid and Attendance benefit is that only certain branches of the military can qualify a Veteran and their spouse. In fact, ElderLife confirms that “all military branches that existed during the approved wartime qualify: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, as well as National Guard, Merchant Marines, and reservists of any branch of the military if they served active duty.” Senior living communities can honor more Veterans by simplifying the complexities of how to pay for senior care and by understanding the frequent myths around the Aid and Attendance benefit.
Why should your community care about this? Here are 3 reasons:
Emily Schwarz, co-founder of AidandAttendance.com, a technology company that helps families understand and apply for VA pension programs, mentions, “The Aid and Attendance pension program is truly a helpful benefit for Veterans, but it’s also really complex. There are a lot of misconceptions out there that make it confusing.” ElderLife recently busted common myths about eligibility for the Aid and Attendance benefit in a new article, VA Aid and Attendance Benefit: What You Need to Know. SilverAssist spoke with Emily Schwarz to learn how we can educate senior living community staff and residents to better understand the Aid and Attendance benefit and what they may qualify for. Here are some great tips you can share with Veteran families living in or considering your community.
Myth: The only part of a senior living community’s expense that an applicant can deduct from their income is the care costs, not the rent.
Fact: The applicant can deduct the entire invoice of the senior living community from their gross income — both care and rent costs. The entire cost of the community is considered a countable medical expense for this benefit.
Myth: It’s a good idea to pre-apply for the benefit before the applicant moves into a senior living community.
Fact: An applicant is more likely to meet the income requirement if you move into a senior living community before applying. In order to be eligible for the benefit, you have to show the VA that you are incurring medical expenses that account for most or all of your income. A senior living community is one of the largest medical expenses that people incur. You need to be able to show that you’re spending your money on care in order to receive the benefit.
Myth: The VA pays the benefit to the senior care provider.
Fact: The VA funds are paid directly to the bank account of the applicant. It does not go to the community or care provider. The Aid and Attendance benefit is a relationship between the VA and the Veteran / surviving spouse.
Myth: People in households with higher incomes can not receive this benefit.
Fact: Even people in households with high incomes can still receive the benefit. The income criteria are based on the household’s net income — the remaining income after all medical and senior care expenses are paid. If you are spending most or all of your income on your senior living community or care expenses, you may still meet the income criteria.
Myth: A person must have a cognitive impairment and need help with at least two activities of daily living in order to meet the health criteria.
Fact: You can be eligible if you have cognitive impairment but do not need help with your ADLs. For example, a person can have a dementia diagnosis and is otherwise in good health. You can also be eligible if you need help with at least two activities of daily living but do not have a cognitive impairment. E.g., you do not have dementia but you need help with bathing and dressing.
Senior care communities have the valuable opportunity to educate current and future residents about the VA Aid and Attendance benefits that they qualify for. Emily Schwarz holds frequent webinars about the requirements and qualifications of the Aid and Attendance benefit to educate Veterans, their families and senior living communities to support your Veteran population. If you’re interested in learning more, please visit AidandAttendance.com.
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