Most older adults worry about how they would pay for assisted living if they needed it someday.
If you are an eligible wartime service veteran, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will pay a pension to help defray long-term care costs. When you combine this VA pension with your social security, you will be able to afford 83% of the cost of assisted living. The pension is called Aid and Attendance and is often the best kept secret on how to pay for long-term care. I talk to vets or their families every day about this life changing pension and get remarks like “nobody ever told me about this” or “How do I get the money?” or “We just spent over $100,000 on assisted living for dad and never heard about this!”
Here is how the math works:
The 2010 Metlife Market Survey of long-term care costs has shown that the average cost of an assisted living private room is $3,293/month. This is a 5% increase over last year’s average of $3,131/month.
The 2010 census reported the average check for all Social Security beneficiaries was $ 1,073/month.
For eligible veterans, the VA will pay an Aid and Attendance pension that equals up to $1,644/month. Adding $1,073 plus $1,644 equals $2,717.
$2,717 is 83% of the 2010 assisted living cost of $3,293. Only 17% of the costs of assisted living will need to come out of the veteran’s savings.
To be eligible, the veteran should have served in wartime, on active duty for 90 days, with at least one day during a declared war, and honorably discharged. A general rule of thumb is that the vet should have less than $80,000 in assets (cash, CDs, etc) not counting first home and car. The veteran’s doctor needs to document that the vet needs assisted living (assistance with bathing, dressing, etc). To get the full amount of the pension, the veteran’s medical expenses such as assisted living costs need to be greater than or equal to income sources such as social security. Assisted living costs alone usually make medical expenses greater than income.
What about other costs like the cost of prescription medication? There is more good news. Veterans who receive the Aid and Attendance pension can also receive free prescription medication, incontinence supplies, and even hearing aids when needed.
Joseph Scott McCarthy is the author of Checks for Vets, a guidebook to help wartime service veterans and their surviving spouses receive VA pensions to pay for long-term care. www.ChecksForVets.com. Joe can be reached at 877-249-8387 toll free.