Mildred, a widow of a Korean War veteran, needed help paying for home care. She had been married to her husband Ted for more than 50 years. They had a good marriage, raised three wonderful children, and when their children were full grown and out on their own, they all scattered across the country. The closest family they had in was more than three hours away by car. It was difficult for them at times, but they did have good friends and a couple wonderful neighbors to help, but after Ted passed away, Mildred became concerned.
She knew home care was a great option, but Ted’s pension ended when he passed away and she was now living on social security and her savings. She couldn’t cover her basic monthly expenses and afford home care. She heard about the Aid and Attendance benefit through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), but didn’t think she would qualify because she assumed these pensions were only for veterans.
The Aid and Attendance benefit can provide financial assistance to widows.
Veterans and their dependents can receive financial assistance to pay for home care support, also known as custodial care, if they meet VA guidelines.
As a Korean War veteran, even though Ted didn’t see active combat, his wartime service made him eligible for this benefit. However, since he was no longer alive, Mildred didn’t realize she was eligible.
A widow of a qualifying veteran can receive Aid and Attendance
Widows of qualifying veterans can receive financial support through the Aid and Attendance benefit, as long as the veteran met the qualifications. In order to qualify, the veteran needs to have served at least 90 days active duty, with at least one day during a wartime. The Korean War qualifies as wartime.
A widow, or surviving spouse, also needs to show that home care is a necessity. In order to do so, a physician must document the need for assistance.
It’s also important to understand there are income and asset limits for Aid and Attendance. However, the VA currently does not have a bona fide net worth limit.
About filing an Aid and Attendance claim for a veteran’s widow
While you can rely on an attorney, anyone can file his or her own claim without an attorney by contacting the VA for the appropriate forms (including VA form VBA-21P-534EZ-ARE). However, when people need assistance with routine tasks such as bathing, grooming, or using the bathroom, they typically need help completing forms. There are not-for-profit veteran service organizations that can act as an agent to file VA claims at no charge. Another option is Veterans Home Care’s VetAssist Program.
Because it can be a long time (months) for the VA application approval process, many widows of veterans turn to Veterans Home Care. As a private company, Veterans Home Care can provide a free loan to clients for home care during the VA application approval process. Because the VA’s first payment is retroactive from the date of the application, the loan can be paid back with those funds. Veterans Home Care specializes in Aid and Attendance benefits and contracts with more than 2,500 home care agencies throughout the country to provide home care or adult day care to veterans or their surviving spouses. Unlike Veterans Home Care, veteran service organizations do not offer free loans to start care before VA entitlement.
In addition to growing Veterans Home Care to become the largest provider of its kind in the industry, Bonnie has been a strong supporter of numerous charitable and social organizations with both a local and national impact. Wings of Hope and Lydia’s House have both benefited from Bonnie’s support to continue much needed services to our most vulnerable in need. Bonnie also is a member of the American Red Cross Tiffany Circle, a national society of women leaders. Bonnie serves as Chairperson for the American Red Cross Service Armed Forces Committee.
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