In my financial planning practice, I frequently meet seniors who have health issues that make it difficult to live independently. If medically appropriate, most seniors, when given the choice, prefer to live at home or in an assisted living community.
However, many seniors cannot afford home health care or the monthly cost of an assisted living community. Medicare provides little or no financial help in this area, and if you are single Medicaid requires you to spend-down your assets to the poverty level.
There is however, a little known resource available for wartime veterans, that is not used nearly enough. The benefit is called, The Aid and Attendance Pension.
This veterans benefit has nothing to do with a service-connected disability. Wartime veterans can receive a check from the VA to help pay for in-home health care, assisted living facility fees, and other unreimbursed medical expenses.
Under this program, a married veteran may receive up to a maximum of $1,949 per month, and a single veteran may receive up to $1,644 per month. In addition, an unmarried, surviving spouse can receive up to $1,056 per month. The surviving spouse would have to be married to the veteran when he/she passed away, and not divorced.
In general, to qualify, a veteran must have 90 days or more of active duty and an honorable discharge. At least one day of service must have been served during wartime. It is not a requirement that the veteran served in battle.
Another area of qualification is the medical needs test. The VA will want to know what type of assistance is needed by the veteran, or surviving spouse. Typically you would need assistance with some activities of daily living, or have a cognitive impairment such as Dementia or Alzheimers.
There are income and assets tests to meet, as well. Therefore, an experienced counselor is a benefit when navigating these waters.