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Long-term Care Insurance for Veterans


Last week we observed Veterans’ Day, and we have been talking lately about Long-term Care insurance (LTCi).  One of the problems with LTCi is the cost, which is never cheap, and the lack of having LTCi can be even costlier.

After affordability, another big barrier is underwriting.  This means that health problems which might cause you to need care can, ironically, prevent you from obtaining Long-Term Care insurance.  This is not unique to LTCi, most types of insurance work this way.  

For some veterans, help is on the way, in the form of the Veterans’ Aid and Attendance Improved Pension Program.  It is named because it kicks in when a veteran of wartime requires the aid and attendance of another person to live his or her daily life.  The benefits provided are tax-free additional pension payments for the life of the Vet and/or spouse.  Although the Aid and Assistance Program has been around for a while, it is little-known and seldom advertised.

For a full description, go to:

www.benefits.va.gov/pension/aid_attendance_housebound.asp

What is this program and do I qualify?

  • Designed for, and available to, veterans ages 65 and up who qualify both medically and financially, it provides a tax-free supplemental pension income to be used especially for Long-Term Care services
  • Medical eligibility is very similar to private LTC insurance rules
  • The Vet must require assistance with the Activities of Daily Living, or ADLs
  • Financially, the Vet must have less than $80,000 in assets, excluding home and vehicles
  • Perhaps the highest hurdle for qualification is the determination of who qualifies by being a War-Time Veteran
  • Generally, this means the Vet must have had 90 days of active duty, 1 day beginning or ending during a period of War, as determined by the U.S. Government
  • Qualified spouses, meaning those married at the time of death of the Vet, also qualify (with no age restriction)
  • Monthly tax-free benefits range from $1,149 to $2,837, and continue for life
  • Benefits cover in-home care as well as nursing home care

If you think you might qualify, the first step is to check on the definition of War-Time Vet.  Eligible War-time periods are listed on the website above under the tab, “Eligible Wartime Periods” (they got that one right!).

If you qualify under the Wartime rules, and are 65 or older, and you believe that you need care, an application has to be prepared.  The form is called DD-214, Medical Evaluation, and is available from the website.

A word of caution is advised.  The application process may require assistance.  It is against the law to charge a Vet for assistance in filling out the application.  There are plenty of services that can help – do a Google search.

While the Aid and Assistance program is great benefit, qualified recipients are limited.  But if you believe that you might qualify, start the application process.  It could mean a great deal to your economic and medical future.