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    VA Program pays for Mom and Dad’s Long Term Care

    Looking for a way to help Mom and Dad pay for home care or assisted living? Perhaps you are their caregiver. Wouldn’t it be nice to receive some extra income to help you provide their care? There is financial help available for senior veterans and their spouses.

    For veterans who served during a time of war or for their surviving spouses, the Veterans Aid & Attendance Pension will pay additional income to cover long-term care costs. The great news about this program is that the VA will allow veterans’ households to include the annual cost of paying any person such as family members, friends or hired help for care when calculating the Pension benefit.

    In 2017, Pension can provide an additional monthly income of up to $2,127 a month for a couple, $1,794 a month for a single veteran or $1,153 a month for a single surviving spouse of a veteran. This money can be used to help pay the cost of home care, adult day services, assisted living or nursing home services.

    In order to reduce income to meet the income test for pension, a rating for “aid and attendance” or “housebound” is crucial. Not only does the rating significantly increase the benefit amount but without a rating, room and board costs for assisted living are not deductible for purposes of reducing income. Only the much smaller assisted living medical costs are deductible.

    For home care, non-medical costs are only deductible if the in-home attendant is licensed for healthcare in that state or if there is a rating. Since the non-medical costs for home care represent the bulk of all costs for long-term care at home, without a rating, those households with a non-licensed attendant would not qualify for the benefit. Examples of medical or nursing services at home would be things such as help with activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, toileting, ambulating, feeding, diapering and so on. Other services might include medication reminders or supervision necessary to provide a protective environment for the care recipient, as in the case of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

    A rating for aid and attendance is automatic if someone is a patient in a nursing home or that person is blind or so nearly blind as to need assistance.

    It is our understanding that a non-licensed in-home attendant could be just about anyone receiving pay for providing services. This might be members of the family, friends, or someone hired to live in the home. Unfortunately, a spouse cannot be included in this list for reimbursable caregivers.

    For a disabled person who has been rated, a family member will be considered an in-home attendant, but that family member has to be paid for services duly rendered. There is potential for fraud here where a family member may move into the home and ostensibly receive payment as a caregiver but not actually provide the level of care paid for. Documentation for this care must be provided to VA, and it is reasonable for VA to question whether the services being purchased from a family member living in the household are legitimate. Such arrangements should be extensively documented.

    Refer to the Veterans’ Administration Geriatrics and Extended Care program for additional information.

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    Bob Mauterstock

    All stories by: Bob Mauterstock

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