Government Program Pays Family Members for Taking Care of Mom and Dad

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 extra income 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, the Veterans Aid & Attendance Benefit 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.

The pension can provide an additional monthly income of up to $1,949 a month for a couple, $1,644 a month for a single Veteran or $1,056 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, assisted living or nursing home services.

In order to reduce income to meet the income test for pension, a rating for “aid and attendance” or “housebound” is crucial. Not only does the rating significantly increase the benefit amount but without a rating, room and board costs for assisted living are not deductible for purposes of reducing income. Only the much smaller assisted living medical costs are deductible.

For home care, non-medical costs are only deductible if the in-home attendant is licensed for healthcare in that state or if there is a rating. Since the non-medical costs for home care represent the bulk of all costs for long-term care at home, without a rating, those households with a non-licensed attendant would not qualify for the benefit. Examples of medical or nursing services at home would be help with activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, toileting, ambulating, feeding, diapering and so on. Other services might include medication reminders or supervision necessary to provide a protective environment for the care recipient — in the case of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

A rating for aid and attendance is automatic if someone is a patient in a nursing home or that person is blind or so nearly blind as to need assistance.

A non-licensed in-home attendant can be just about anyone receiving pay for providing services. This might be members of the family, friends, or someone hired to live in the home. Unfortunately, a spouse cannot be included in this list for reimbursable caregivers.

For a disabled person who has been rated, a family member will be considered an in-home attendant, but that family member has to be paid for services duly rendered. Documentation for this care must be provided to VA, and such arrangements must be extensively documented to prove they are legitimate.

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. For our clients, I recommend a formal care contract and monthly invoice billing for services. Money must exchange hands, appropriate taxes must be paid, and there must be evidence of this. All of this documentation must be provided as proof to VA when making application for the 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.

There is an application form to be submitted, along with a doctor’s report form, documentation of medical expenses and payment of home care services or facility fees. Other documentation includes original discharge papers, marriage records if applicable and a death certificate where applicable. An inventory of all sources of household income and all household cash equivalent assets is also required. Providing complete documentation with the initial application will expedite a rating and approval for pension payment.

Accredited Attorney
Evan H. Farr is an Accredited Attorney with the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs. The Farr Law Firm is an Elder Law and Estate Planning Firm that also specializes in helping Veterans and their spouses obtain the financial assistance to which they are entitled. If you are a Veteran or spouse of a Veteran and you need assistance in your home, or are living in or considering moving into an Assisted Living Facility or Continuing Care Retirement Community, please contact us to see if you might qualify for the Veterans Aid and Attendance Special Pension Benefit or the Veterans Housebound Special Pension Benefit.

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.