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 compensation 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, veterans benefits such as the Veterans Aid & Attendance Pension will pay additional income to cover long term care costs. The great news about this program is that 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.
Pension can provide an additional monthly income of up to $2,085 a month for a couple, $1,759 a month for a single veteran or $1,130 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, and assisted living or nursing home services.
A family member can 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 and completely arm's-length.
The care arrangements and payment for home care must be made prior to application and there must be evidence that this care is needed on an ongoing and regular basis. We recommend a formal care contract and monthly invoice billing for services. Money must exchange hands and there must be evidence of this. All of this documentation must be provided as proof to VA when making application for the pension benefit. Costs for these services must be unreimbursed; meaning these costs are not paid by insurance, by contributions from the family or from other sources. Even though the family member being paid for services cannot reimburse the veteran household directly, the family may pay the bills for the veteran household. This indirect form of support is allowed.
In 2007 the AARP released a study on Caregivers in America in which they reported, “Many caregivers make direct out-of pocket expenditures to help support a family member or friend with a disability. Non-spousal caregivers were asked how much money they spend in a typical month for groceries, medicines, or other kinds of cash support for the care recipient. About half of caregivers contributed financially, spending an average of $200 per month ($2,400 per year). Caregivers who had the greatest level of caregiving burden reported spending $324 per month ($3,888per year) out of pocket.”
The study went on to say, “In addition to direct out-of-pocket expenditures made by caregivers, many caregivers experience other significant economic losses. The majority of caregivers in the United States (59 percent) are employed either full or part time. The financial impact of caregiving on caregivers in the workforce can involve multiple aspects of their income security, including their wages, job security and career paths, and employment benefits such as health insurance and retirement savings.
Those family members acting as caregivers for America’s veterans and/or their spouses can help reduce the stress on their own and their families emotional, social and financial well-being by making use of the VA Pension Benefit.
The secret for receiving a successful award from the VA is not in filling out the form but in knowing what documents and evidence must be submitted with the application. Knowing the secrets for a successful award – with the special case of long term care recipients – is 95% of the battle. A knowledgeable, accredited consultant can provide information to shorten the VA’s decision window of 6 to 12 months to possibly 3 or 4 months.