Page Reviewed / Updated – January 12, 2021

Many people find that as they get older, they require more support with day-to-day tasks than their loved ones can provide. Moving to an assisted living facility offers seniors a chance to receive that support in a cost-effective fashion. Veterans may be eligible for financial support in their retirement years, helping them pay for the costs associated with care in an assisted living facility.

Help for Veterans to Cover Assisted Living Costs

The average monthly cost of assisted living in the United States is $4,051 per month. Fees vary from state to state, and assisted living is usually more affordable than home care, but veterans on a smaller pension may struggle to pay those fees.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers some benefits for former service members or their surviving spouses. Veterans who were honorably discharged should be eligible for the VA pension. On top of this, there’s the Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit for those who meet certain needs-based and service-based requirements. In addition, some Medicaid waivers for seniors may be used to offset the cost of assisted living or other long-term care. These benefits and waivers make assisted living more accessible for seniors who don’t have large pensions.

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Assisted Living Benefits for Veterans Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible for Veterans Aid and Attendance benefits?

The Veterans Aid and Attendance benefit is for seniors who meet needs-based requirements and who served at least 90 days of active military service, of which at least one day was during an acknowledged war. Surviving spouses may also be able to receive this benefit.

The military service requirement covers:

  • World War I
  • World War II
  • Korean Conflict
  • Vietnam Era
  • Gulf War

In addition to passing the needs and eligibility requirements, seniors must meet household income tests. Additional components, such as the Housebound Allowance, are for those who qualify for the basic payment and have extra care needs due to limited mobility or eyesight.

Can I sell my home to cover the cost of assisted living?

Some veterans may find that their household income or assets are too high to allow them to receive the Aid and Attendance benefits, or their period of service means they’re not eligible for anything above the basic veteran’s pension.

Those who need to, or would prefer to, self-fund their care by spending down the value of their assets may opt to sell their home or take advantage of bridge loans or reverse mortgages. These financial offerings allow property owners to borrow against the equity in their home, repaying the loan by either refinancing the property over a longer period or selling the property outright.

For a senior who is moving into an assisted living facility, a bridge loan provides the short-term funds required to cover the cost of their care while they wait for the sale of their home to complete.

Are there veteran-specific places to go for advice or care?

Most states have several VA offices, allowing people to seek advice about pensions, benefits, social security and medical care in person or over the telephone. Seniors can find their nearest VA Office location on the website.

Is there support for those on a low income?

Veterans who are on a low income and ineligible for the Aid and Attendance Allowance may be able to apply for Medicaid waivers. Each state has its own system for distributing waivers.

Most states offer a Home and Community-Based Services waiver to support seniors who would otherwise require a nursing home level of care, allowing them to remain in the community, living in their own home or an assisted living facility for as long as possible.

Medicaid waivers are assessed based on age, care needs and income.

Can I get help if my spouse is still below retirement age?

Medicaid payments are assessed based on the needs and age of the person who is applying. If a person is eligible for Medicaid based on their care needs, then they can receive help with long-term care even if their spouse is younger and in good health.

It’s possible for a couple to live together in an assisted living facility, although pricing for couples varies from facility to facility. The relative care needs of each member of the couple must also be taken into account. If one spouse has no extra care needs and is paying only for room and board, they may not receive additional financial support.

Veterans who are considering moving into an assisted living facility with their spouse should talk to an advisor at their VA Office to determine which social security benefits, pensions or other support are available to their family.