Honoring Our Veterans: Resources for Older Veterans

Darryl Fyall, circa 1986 (Barbara Scurry’s husband)

On the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we honor those that served our country. Nationally, there are 21 million men and women who have served in active duty, and there are 690,208 veterans in the state of Georgia, according to the U.S. Census.

Thank you to those that have served: I especially want to thank my husband, who is a Navy veteran; and my father, who served in the Air Force during Vietnam. You were willing to sacrifice so much for us and for our way of life.

Recognizing Our Elderly Veterans

Over 35% of the 690,208 veterans living in Georgia are over the age of 65. We have had the privilege of working with many of these older veterans. They tell us stories of their time in uniform, and we can see the impact their service has had on their lives.

One way that their service impacts their lives today is their ability to now use a little-known veterans benefit to help pay for their long-term care costs.

The VA offers a special pension to wartime veterans and their surviving spouses. This pension, known as Aid and Attendance, is a tax-free benefit that veterans (or widows) can use to pay for in-home care, assisted living care, or nursing home care.

If a veteran served at least 90 consecutive days of active duty, had at least one day of service that was during wartime (see the va.gov for official wartime dates), had a discharge that was other-than dishonorable, and is now over the age of 65 and needs the aid and attendance of another person to meet his/her needs, that veteran (or widow) may be eligible for the VA’s Aid and Attendance Benefit.

The VA’s Aid and Attendance Benefit can range from about $1,100-$2,100/month in extra income! For many, getting the benefit can be the difference between being able to afford in-home or assisted living care or not.

An extra monthly income of $1,100-$2,100 is a big deal, yet so many older veterans do not know about this benefit and are leaving this extra money on the table.

Applying for the VA Aid and Attendance Benefit

If you are a wartime veteran (or the family member of a wartime veteran) and are now over the age of 65, you need to learn more about the Aid and Attendance Benefit. You or your spouse may need to access this benefit in the future, and it is best to be prepared with knowledge before you actually need it.

There are asset and income requirements for the Aid and Attendance Benefit. The VA restricts access to those veterans that are in danger of outliving their money. And on October 18, 2018, the VA instituted new asset rules: there is now a $123,600 limit to assets (and this excludes one house and one car), and there is a 36-month lookback period to make sure you do not give away any assets in order to qualify for the benefit.

Planning for one day needing the Aid and Attendance Benefit should begin earlier than you think.

To learn more about the VA Aid and Attendance Benefit, here are some helpful links:
To find someone to help you with the benefit:

The application process can be time-consuming and arduous. The VA requires a comprehensive list of documentation be provided with their basic application, the 21P-527EZ. Along with the VA form, here are some of the documents also required:

  1.     DD214 – Discharge Papers
  2.     Marriage License
  3.     Birth Certificate – Any children under the age of 18, any children under the age of 23 enrolled in an approved college, or any child deemed completely and totally disabled.
  4.     Social Security Numbers for all dependents and spouse
  5.     Proof of total gross income – retirements, social security, Annuities, etc.
  6.     Proof of net Worth – IRA’s, Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds, etc.
  7.     Receipts from out of pocket medical expenses for the previous year (e.g., over the counter medications, pharmacy co-pays, doctor co-pays, optometry, dental, medical supplies, incontinence items, insurance premiums, etc.)
  8.     Physician Statement
  9.    Care provider report

Even with proper documentation, the VA can take 5-9 months to process a claim!  If the claim is submitted without all of the necessary documents, a delay of 2-3 months can be added on to the wait time. Fortunately, the VA pays the claim retroactively back to the date of application.

Because the application process can be so difficult, many veterans and their families are afraid to apply. They simply do not have the hours nor the ability to sift through old documents, chase down bank records, locate marriage, birth, and death certificates. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the application process and required documentation.

The Daily Money Managers at Senior Partners can help pull the required documents, organize the information, and essentially do the leg work to help the veteran complete an application for VA benefits. We work alongside attorneys, certified claims agents, and other senior providers to get this important job done.

To learn more about our services, please contact our office at (678) 278-8410 or schedule a consultation on our website.

Thank you to the men and women who have served our nation in uniform.