My husband and I have been providing emotional and physical support to his uncle for several years now. However, a recent change in health has made that very difficult to continue doing. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease about 8 months ago.
Uncle Jim has been a widower for over 10 years. He’s very independent and fiercely proud. But the changes we started detecting about a year ago made us concerned about his safety. After convincing him it was time to see a doctor, we were sad to receive this diagnosis.
Though we live fairly close, he is alone all day long and many evenings. My husband, children, and I are in and out, but I think he needs more. I worry he will wander from home, become lost, and something awful will happen to him.
Our uncle is on a fairly tight budget, but since he’s a veteran he might be entitled to more assistance from the Veterans Benefits Administration. My friend told me there is a benefit that specifically helps finance senior care and different health care needs.
Could this benefit help pay for a move to a memory care community? While we are sad not to be able to care for him at home, we know that his safety and well-being will likely be better in a community known for caring for people with dementia.
Can you help connect us with information about this benefit for veterans?
Jake and Jenny in Midland, MI
Understanding the Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit for Senior Care
Dear Jake and Jenny:
I’m glad your friend talked with you about this benefit. It’s sometimes overlooked because veterans and their families aren’t aware it exists. It is known as the Aid and Attendance benefit and was created to offer financial support to veterans and their spouses or the surviving spouses of deceased veterans.
Veterans aged 65 or older who served at least 90 days of active military service, at least one day of which was during an acknowledged period of war, may be eligible for this support. This benefit also extends to surviving spouses of veterans.
Here’s a quick overview of what veterans and their loved ones should know:
- Demonstrate need: The veteran or surviving spouse must be able to demonstrate the need for assistance. The Veterans Benefits Administration conducts an evaluation to make this determination. Factors such as the senior’s ability to independently perform daily activities and any disabilities one or both spouses have are used in the assessment.
- Financial qualification: The Veterans Benefits Administration will look at the family’s yearly income and total net worth when deciding if they qualify for assistance and in determining how much they will receive. These guidelines are established by Congress and are adjusted each year.
- Current pension recipient: Applicants must already be receiving a VA pension or must be eligible to apply.
- Honorably discharged from service: A veteran must have parted from their military service in good standing. Those who received a dishonorable discharge are usually not eligible for these benefits.
- No service-related injury required: One myth is that the veteran must have sustained an injury during their time in military service to qualify for help. That’s not true. A qualifying health condition does not need to be related to their time in the service.
Finally, the Veterans Benefits Administration mandates that a veteran must have served least 90 days of active military service to receive this benefit. At least one day of that service must have taken place during an acknowledged period of war. This is the current list of wars and conflicts that meet the period of war requirement:
- World War I (April 6, 1917–November 11, 1918)
- World War II (December 7, 1941–December 31, 1946)
- Korean conflict (June 27, 1950–January 31, 1955)
- Vietnam era (November 1, 1955–May 7, 1975 for veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period; otherwise, August 5, 1964–May 7, 1975)
- Gulf War (August 2, 1990–a future date to be set by law or presidential proclamation)
I hope this information is helpful to you and your uncle. If you have questions, I encourage you to contact one of the Heritage Senior Communities. Our team members are well-versed in the Aid and Attendance benefit and may be able to help you find answers.