What You Should Know About Long-Term Care Assistance From the VA

What You Should Know About Long-Term Care Assistance From the VA
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(Updated Sept. 30)


For veterans seeking assistance with their caregiving situation – those who may not have long-term care insurance or enough individual assets – the only programs available are through the VA.


The federal VA programs are called Aid and Attendance (A&A) and Housebound. Each state also manages state VA facilities that may be accepting new residents.


The A&A and Housebound programs pay an additional amount on top of established VA pension compensation to help cover the extra costs of long-term care expenses.


Both programs are available only to those who receive a VA pension, and surviving spouses of these veterans.


[RELATED: Learn More About MOAA-Endorsed Long-Term Care Insurance]


For the A&A program, you also must meet at least one of these requirements:

  • Someone helps you perform daily activities, like bathing, feeding, and dressing, or
  • You are bedridden or spend a large portion of the day in bed because of illness, or
  • You are in facility due to mental or physical issues related to a disability, or
  • Your eyesight is severely limited.


For the Housebound program, you must spend most of your time in your home due to a permanent disability. A person cannot receive both A&A and Housebound benefits at the same time.


[RELATED: Long-Term Care Resources From MOAA] 


Receiving a VA Pension

The key factor from the program descriptions above is receipt of a VA pension. A VA pension is a financial needs-based program with three eligibility hurdles:


1. Both of the following statements must apply:
  • You did not receive a dishonorable discharge, and
  • Your yearly family income and net worth are within legal limits.


Net worth includes all personal property you own (except your house, your car, and most home furnishings) minus any debt you owe. It includes the net worth of your spouse.


Becoming a patient in a caregiving facility often dramatically reduces countable income, allowing you to meet the income test and qualify for A&A.


You must work with a veteran service office to determine your net worth. Search “county veteran service office” online to find your nearest offices, check out the VA’s directory of State Veterans Affairs Offices, or use another online directory. These offices also can help you determine availability at a state VA facility.


[RELATED: More Health Care Resources From MOAA]


2. You must fall within one of these service windows:
  • Initial active duty before Sept. 8, 1980, with at least 90 days on active duty and at least one day during wartime*, or
  • Initial active duty as an enlisted member after Sept. 7, 1980, and served at least 24 months or the full period for which you were ordered to active duty with at least one day during wartime*, or
  • Were an officer with initial active duty after Oct. 16, 1981, with no previous active service in the prior 24 months.


* Learn how the VA defines periods of wartime service for pension eligibility here.


3. You must meet at least one of these requirements:
  • Are at least 65 years old, or
  • Have a permanent and total disability, or
  • Currently in a facility for caregiving because of a disability, or
  • Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.


Learn more about the VA pension, A&A, and Housebound at https://www.va.gov/pension/eligibility/. Besides these programs, you can ask your County Veteran Service Officer about the possibility of eligibility for VA’s Veteran-Directed Care and Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers programs. You can also call the VA Hotline at (800) 827-1000 or go to the VA homepage (www.va.gov) for more resources.


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About the Author

Lt. Col. Shane Ostrom, USAF (Ret), CFP®
Lt. Col. Shane Ostrom, USAF (Ret), CFP®

Ostrom is MOAA's former Program Director, Financial & Benefits Education/Counseling