Long-Term Care Benefits You May Be Entitled To

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If you’re a veteran who is also a senior citizen (65 years of age or older), you might need long-term care assistance in your home to help with medical conditions or disabilities. You might also be considering assisted living facilities.
If this is your situation, you’ll want to research and ask for referrals to find the highest quality of care. A startling 10 percent of Americans over 60 years old have been a victim of elder abuse. Elder abuse can be physical, such as pinching or hitting a senior, or psychological, such as abusive or threatening behaviors, or simply neglect or abandonment. A good rule of thumb is to ask your local senior citizen, friends or family for referrals as you search either for long-term care assistance in your home or an assisted living facility.
Assisted living facilities can be expensive for many seniors, however. The median household income for people 65 and over totaled $2,968 per month in 2013. The monthly cost of the base rent for assisted living in 2014 was $3,771.
Long-Term Care Benefits for Veterans
There are two important benefits for veterans and their spouses that can assist with long-term care as they get older. The first is “Aid and Attendance” and the second is “Housebound.” While over 1.5 billion veterans and their spouses are eligible for the two benefits, they are underutilized because many veterans and their families are unaware of their existence.
They are considered non-service-related pensions because the conditions or disabilities covered need not have been incurred or aggravated during active military service. They are different from Veterans Administration service-connected disability compensation payments. These are designed for veterans with disability stemming from an injury related to combat or illness.
The veteran does need to have served at least 90 days, with at least one day during wartime. For example, a veteran who was in stationed in Alaska during WWII would be eligible.
Aid and Attendance vs. Housebound: The Differences
The primary difference between the two benefits are the amount and degree of care needed and the rates of payments. For the Aid and Attendance pension, a veteran has to require support for the needs of daily living (ADL), including bathing or dressing.
For example, a veteran might suffer from severe arthritis that has made bathing without help impossible. They might want to age in place, as many seniors do, and simply want home healthcare or a family member’s help. Perhaps the veteran and spouse may decide that assisted living would better suit their needs. In either case, due to the difficulty with ADL, they would be eligible for the Aid and Attendance pension.
A Housebound pension requires that the veteran be significantly confined to their immediate premises due to permanent disability.
It’s important to note that veterans who can perform ADL may be eligible for a Housebound pension if they have a condition or disability that confines them to their home. A veteran who has glaucoma or low vision, for example, may be unable to renew their driver’s license due to vision problems. As a result, the lack of ability to drive a car may leave them homebound.
At the same time, their home may be arranged so that the vision impairment does not render them unable to perform ADL. If the veteran requires transportation services in order to leave the home, they qualify for a Housebound pension.
The pension benefits can be substantial. A veteran with a dependent for example, may be eligible for up to $23,000 annually to pay for un-reimbursed long-term support provided by a family member, in-home aid or assisted living care.
In addition, veterans approved for an Aid and Attendance or a Housebound pension become eligible for no-cost hearing aids, medications and incontinent supplies. Note that veterans will need to file a form 1010EZ to receive these benefits.
Note that, if veterans and their families qualify for both, they can receive both types of pensions.
Income Limits
To receive either long-term support pension, veterans must also not exceed an annual income limit. For the Aid and Attendance pension, the 2016 limits are:
 

Single veteran $21,466
Veteran that has one dependent $25,448
Single surviving spouse $13,794
Surviving spouse with one dependent $16,456

 
For a Housebound pension, the limits were last set in 2009. They are:
Wartime service veteran, no dependents: under $14,457
Wartime service veteran, one dependent: under $18,120
There are other limits connected to financial status. For example, although there is no set limit, if the assets a veteran owns (for example, the house and car) are over $80,000, they may not be eligible. Total assets are defined as assets minus debts.
For more on these two pensions, check the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or touch base with the local offices of national veteran service organizations, such as the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).

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