VA Aid and Attendance benefits are a little known benefit from the Veterans Administration that provides extraordinary assistance for veterans and their surviving spouses as they age and require caregiving.
The veteran’s disability does not have to be service connected. They only need to have served during a time of war. This benefit can pay a vet up to $2,120 per month in assistance with care if the veteran qualifies medically and financially. Receiving the financial support from the Aid and Attendance program can often help an aging veteran remain off of Medicaid and provide them the financial independence to choose the type of care they prefer. The proposed new rules will potentially make it much more difficult for the vet to qualify for this benefit that they earned through service to their country.
The new regulations propose penalizing veterans for gifts they might have given to their children for birthdays, holidays or even as payment for providing care. Penalties for this type of gifting can deny veterans vital assistance through the Aid and Attendance program for up to 10 years. The new regulations also add restrictions to the type of assistance that will be allowed for qualification for Aid and Attendance. Vets who are at the earliest stage of medical need and live in independent living facilities will no longer qualify for the program. These penalties are harsh and have extreme consequences for our nation’s veterans.
By denying benefits to those in independent living facilities, wartime veterans will either forgo care in order to save their money or deplete their money and be forced directly onto the Medicaid rolls, costing taxpayers more. Medicaid costs taxpayers more because Medicaid pays for the entire cost of care, whereas Aid and Attendance benefits just pay a partial amount of care, which stretches out the veteran’s available dollars for care and puts off the need for Medicaid.
The proposed regulations also result in an unfair penalty on surviving spouses of wartime veterans. The penalty for gifting money is essentially double for vulnerable surviving spouses than for the veteran. Additionally, if a surviving spouse has a disabled child, that surviving spouse cannot leave money for the child’s care in a trust for them. Although the veteran can fund a trust for a disabled child, the surviving spouse cannot, meaning that most surviving spouses will forgo Aid and Attendance benefits and instead go on Medicaid, at a higher cost for taxpayers.
Surviving spouses and veterans will be limited in the amount they can pay for home care to a national “average.” This does not take into account the regional variables that effect costs. This impedes veterans from receiving the highest levels of care. These individuals who have sacrificed so much for our country deserve better.