There are several ways to receive financial help for veterans assisted living. There are also plenty of assisted living options to choose from. A survey conducted in 2010 found that among those in residential care facilities, 16% were veterans and 17% were spouses or widows/widowers of a veteran. Among the 21.8 million veterans in the U.S., 9 million are over the age of 65. There are several independent organizations and government programs that make is possible for veterans to be taken care of after they can no longer live independently. To see whether a veteran qualifies for financial assistance, they’ll need to be enrolled in the VA health system. The system will take into account the veteran’s length of military service, age, disability and financial need to determine how much financial aid will be given. Most health care coverage will handle preventative care, diagnostic tests, hospitalization and prescription meds. Long-term care coverage includes home care, rehab services, respite care and hospice. A disability pension is available to those who are disabled, whether it occurred during the course of service or not.
Aid and Attendance Pension
Veterans can take advantage of the ‘Aid and Attendance’ Pension Benefit whether they sustained injuries during their time in service or not. This benefit is offered by the Veterans Administration, and it aids both veterans and their spouses. It’s applicable to those who need assistance to eat, bathe, dress, etc. It can be applied to expenses relating to assisted living facilities, nursing homes, in-home care and for those who are blind. Those who qualify may receive a maximum of $1,732/month, with their spouse eligible for up to $1,113/month. This number varies depending on whether the veteran has a spouse or whether their spouse is sick. Maximum benefits are granted to those with an income of $0.
To qualify for the Veteran’s pension program (monthly benefits for veterans and surviving spouses), you must meet these qualifications:
- Non-dishonorable discharge from service, with at least 90 days of active service and one day during a period of war.
- Countable income is below the max annual pension rate
- Net worth limitations met (must have, on average, less than $80,000 in assets)
- 65 years of age or older OR disabled from non-service-connected causes OR is a patient in a nursing home OR receives Social Security disability benefits.
- If veterans entered active duty after September 7, 1980, they must have served a minimum of 24 months. If they did not serve this long, they must have completed their entire tour of active duty.
A Housebound Pension is available to those who wish to remain in their homes or live with a relative. It is geared toward those who need minimal assistance, and can be applied to eligible spouses as well. To qualify, you must:
- Have a single, permanent disability determined to be 100% disabling
- Be substantially confined to your immediate premises as a result of this disability OR
- Have a single permanent disability evaluated 100% disabling and another disability evaluated at 60% or more disabling
This benefit is geared toward those who are the un-remarried, surviving spouse and/or unmarried child(ren) of a deceased veteran with wartime service. This benefit is tax-free and doled out monthly. The deceased veteran must meet VA requirements listed under the Pension section. To continue receiving this benefit, survivors must remain unmarried and meet low-income requirements. Pension amount is based on yearly family income. If you are a child taking advantage of this pension, you must be:
- Under 18 OR
- Under 23 if attending a VA approved school OR
- Permanently incapable of self-support due to a disability
You can apply for VA Assisted Living and Home Health Services here.
Within Missouri, there are 1,350 beds reserved for veterans as part of Missouri Veterans Homes. Along with housing, these residents are provided with long term, skilled nursing care. Though we focus on assistance for the Cameron Veterans Home, there are also locations in Cape Girardeau, Mexico, Mount Vernon, St. James, St. Louis and Warrensburg. To qualify for these homes, you must meet these stipulations:
- Veteran cannot have been discharged dishonorably
- Veteran must be a resident of Missouri for at least 180 days at some point in their life
- Veteran must have proof that they require skilled nursing home care from a physician
The veterans assisted living home must have the resources to care for the patient’s needs as well. Ultimate decisions are made by a committee—the Administrator, Physician, Director of Nursing, Social Worker, and Veterans Service Officer. You’ll need to make sure that you qualify for Veteran status as established by the U.S. Dept. of Veteran Affairs. If you meet these qualifications for aid and attendance, the VA provides for reasonable costs toward medical expenses (whether care providers are licensed or not). In the case that the veteran has Alzheimer’s, you’ll need a physician statement confirming that the patient needs a protective environment. Without this statement, only medical costs are covered. Funding for a ‘protective environment’ can go toward room/board and some un-reimbursed billable services.
If your loved one is part of a veterans home, you can rest assured that they’re getting the best care. Each Home has a licensed nursing home administrator, register nurses on duty 24 hours/day, physician care, occupational/recreational therapy and cosmetology. Plus, they have staff to help with speech therapy, medications, maintenance, environmental/social services and dietary needs. There’s also specialized programming for dementia care and pastoral services. Veterans have access to a dining room, activity area and enclosed courtyard as well. There are seven Homes to choose from in Missouri, making it easy for Veterans to remain close to their families and home towns. This is one of the best options for veterans assisted living.
Other Living Options
Community Nursing Homes and Community Living Centers
Community Nursing Homes are owned and operated by the VA. They are regular nursing homes under contract with the VA to help veterans. The reason for this ‘outsourcing’ is to ensure that veterans can access assisted living within a broader range of locations. These are not under VA control, but Community Living Centers are. Services are similar, and they can be accessed on a short-term and long-term basis.
Veterans assisted living is not paid for directly by the VA, but Home and Community Based Services are available to reduce fees that would typically come with assisted living communities. In a lot of these cases, residents are charged by the amount of assistance they require.
Adult Foster Care Homes and Medical Foster Homes
Another veterans assisted living option is adult foster care homes (adult family homes) which normally handle about 6 residents at a time and are more affordable than assisted living residents. Keep in mind though that these typically have less recreational activities. Medical foster homes are similar, but are best described as personal nursing homes. Though the VA does not cover the costs of room and board, the VD-HCBS’ Homemaker and Primary Care programs cover primary care, personal care and assistance with daily activities. Aid and Attendance pension benefits can also cover room and board for medical foster homes. Because medical foster homes focus on health maintenance and assistance with daily living, they employ nurses, nursing assistants, therapists and nurse practitioners.
Home Medical Care, Personal Care and Chore Service
Home medical care is provided for by any veteran who receives Veterans Health Administration Medical Benefits. Personal Care is non-medical assistance with the activities or the instrumental activities of daily living. It includes bathing, up keeping personal hygiene and preparing meals. It’s a very similar option to medical home care, but home medical care professionals have more advanced medical training. A convenient option for veterans who can take care of themselves but struggle doing some things around the house is Chore Service. This can include anything from yard work to changing lightbulbs. These are services that are outside the realm of medical care professionals but are necessary to maintain a safe living environment.
Adult Day Care
Adult day care is a veterans assisted living option that provides basic primary care service and assistance with daily activities. This includes meals and recreational activities. Because it’s a group environment, costs are typically lower than in-home care. You’ll get constant supervision without paying an exuberant amount. The VA has adult day cares in many of their medical centers. The same is offered at state veterans’ homes. Other adult day cares can be found independently in communities.
For those caring for elderly veterans, there are options to give you a quick break from the consistent stress and work. Respite caregivers can substitute for a full-time caregiver when they need a vacation. Many adult day care centers and state veterans homes offer respite care on an overnight basis. Respite has been found to help sustain the caregiver’s health and well-being and reduce possibilities of abuse and neglect. Plus, some studies found that respite helps prevent divorce. Caregivers work long hours, so it’s important to switch out caregivers consistently and show appreciation for what they’re doing.
Our goal is to better the lives of veterans in assisted living situations. If you feel called to help those in the Cameron Veterans Home, consider donating today. Your contribution goes a long way to help with transportation and the recreational activities for these brave men and women.