Caregivers and their elderly parents are often frustrated by the vague information they receive from the VA explaining how to apply for pensions to help pay for long-term care.
The following is an excerpt from "Checks for Vets" by Joseph Scott McCarthy. This guidebook helps vets apply for pensions to help pay for long-term care.
"Imagine that you have just made the agonizing decision to move your elderly father into an assisted living facility because he can no longer care for himself. He is an honorably discharged veteran with no dependents. The assisted living costs about $3,000 per month. Your father has a total income of $1,400 per month from social security and interest. His net worth is $60,000. How will you be able to afford the cost of the assisted living facility?
The answer could be an Aid and Attendance pension for veterans. Because your father was honorably discharged, has caregiver needs due to his disability and has a net worth of less than $80,000, and meets the income requirements, he is eligible to receive a pension check for $1,794 per month from the Department of Veteran Affairs Aid and Attendance pension program (as of 12/1/2016). In addition, after your elderly father starts to receive the Aid and Attendance pension, he will also be able to receive free medications from VA mail-order pharmacy.
Surviving spouses of wartime service veterans are also eligible for this pension; however they are not eligible for free medications.
While submitting an error-free claim can shorten your claim process, there will still be a waiting period before your claim can be approved. The waiting period for pension approval id different in each state and is dependent on a number of factor, including the retirement of significant numbers of VA regions office employees; the number of responsibilities place on the regional office, such as processing foreign country claims; and whether the regional office sends its claims to other offices for processing.
The waiting period also varies according to the backlog of claims the VA is processing. However, once the VA determines that you are eligible to receive a pension, the check you receive will contain a lump sum amount retroactive to the first of the month after your application date.
In addition to a wealth of information about veteran pensions, McCarthy's book "Checks for Vets" contains samples of the forms you need and tips for successfully filing a claim for an Aid and Attendance or Housebound pension.
There also is a special pension for care that many people don't even know about, and it is worth looking into to see if your veteran or surviving spouse qualify.
Joseph Scott McCarthy is a veteran advocate with more than 8 years of experience working with Aid and Attendance and Housebound pensions. He has educated and guided thousands of veterans and their surviving spouses and adult children through the VA pension process.