What Types of Senior Care are Available for Veterans?

veteran benefits
VA Aid & Attendance can help defray the costs of senior care.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers some funding programs that can help offset the cost of some types of senior care.

U.S. News & World Report’s recent article, “Veteran Benefits for Assisted Living,” explains that many senior living companies try to help many veterans maximize their benefits, which in some cases can significantly reduce the cost of senior living.

Note that the VA won’t pay for a veteran’s rent in an assisted living facility. However, VA benefits may pay for some of the extra services required, like nursing assistance, help with bathing and toileting, and possibly meals.

There are a variety of benefits that may help, based on a vet’s specific service history and eligibility. The most commonly used benefits are the Aid & Attendance Pension. Another common benefit is the Survivor’s Pension for spouses of a deceased veteran with wartime service.

The VA’s Aid & Attendance and Housebound program is part of the pension benefits paid to low-income veterans and surviving spouses. The VA says these benefits are paid in addition to a monthly pension to veterans or their surviving un-remarried spouses. A vet must meet certain military service conditions, and also satisfy one of the potential medical conditions, including:

  • Requiring the aid of another person to perform personal functions, like bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, or staying safe from hazards;
  • Being disabled and bedridden, above what would be thought of as recovery from a course of treatment, such as surgery;
  • Being a patient in a nursing home due to physical or mental incapacity; or
  • Having very poor eyesight (5/200 corrected visual acuity or less in both eyes) or a field of vision limited to five degrees or less.

Vets may qualify for these benefits, which are added to the standard monthly low-income pension, when he or she is “substantially confined to your immediate premises because of permanent disability,” the VA says. Eligibility for the program is based on a case by case basis and involves a review by the VA.

It’s important to begin the application process early, rather than waiting for a crisis to occur. Ask an experienced estate planning or elder law attorney to help you and to discuss your options.

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VA Pays Millions in Home Loan Refunds

VA Home loan form
Roughly 53,000 disabled veterans were mistakenly charged VA funding fees on their home loans.

Officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs said they reviewed 130,000 cases over the summer to look for errors. Many of these were simple clerical mistakes or disability ratings changes, after veterans settled on their loans.

The Military Times’ recent article entitled “VA refunds $400 million in mistaken home loan fees” explains that with the current regulations, veterans and service members must pay a VA funding fee when they apply for a VA home loan. This charge can be between 0.5 and 3.3% of the total loan. The money is supposed to pay some administration costs for the department. Disabled veterans are exempt from this fee.

However, an inspector general report released earlier in 2019 found that roughly 53,000 disabled veterans were charged these fees in recent years.

VA officials announced in May that they would review current and past loans, and contact veterans eligible for refunds.

In a statement, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie explained that the effort stretched back as far as 20 years. “Our administration prioritized fixing the problems and paid veterans what they were owed.”

The total amount of the payouts was significantly higher than the nearly $290 million total investigators estimated earlier this year.

The refunds ranged from a few thousand dollars to more than $20,000 for some vets.

Veterans Affairs officials also announced a new policy guidance for lenders to make certain that they’re asking veterans applying for the loans about their disability status. The VA also has created new internal processes for oversight over future loan applications which may be eligible for waived fees.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has also planned new outreach efforts to help get the word out to veterans about the waivers they’re eligible to receive.

VA officials said they believe that their review of the issue is now complete. However, any veterans who think they may be entitled to a refund for mistaken fees can contact the department’s regional loan center office at (877) 827-3702 or visit the VA’s website for more information.

Reference: Military Times (October 8, 2019) “VA refunds $400 million in mistaken home loan fees”

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