Under the right circumstances, a little-known federal program will pay additional income to cover long term care costs for at least 1/3 of all US senior households -- that's how many war veterans or their surviving spouses there are in this country. But the provisions of this program are such a well-kept secret that only 4.7% of US seniors are actually receiving the benefit. The great news about this program is the Department of Veterans Affairs will pay you to hire your family, friends or just about anyone to take care of you (Caregiving spouses can't be paid under this program). The program is called "Veterans Pension."
Most people who have heard about Pension know that it will cover the costs of assisted living and, in some cases, cover nursing home costs as well. But the majority of those receiving long term care in this country are in their homes. Estimates are that approximately 70% to 80% of all long term care is being provided in the home. All of the information available about Pension overlooks the fact that this benefit can also be used to pay for home care.
It also comes as a surprise to most people that the Department of Veterans Affairs 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. This annual cost is deducted from household income and used to calculate a lower "countable income" which in turn enables families to receive this disability income from VA. Even though VA claims the benefit is for low income families, because of the special provision in the regulations -- allowing for deduction for care costs -- households earning between $3,000 to $6,000 a month or more can still qualify for Pension under the right conditions.
This extra income can be a welcome benefit for families struggling to provide eldercare for loved ones at home. Under the right circumstances, this annualized medical expense for the cost of family members, friends or any other person providing care, could create an additional household income of up to $1,130 a month for a single surviving spouse of a veteran, up to $1,759 a month for a single veteran or up to $2,085 a month for a couple.