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Aid & Attendance is a great financial benefit provided by the Department of Veteran Affairs to help fund at-home care, nursing home care, or assisted living for qualifying veterans and their surviving spouses. While not everyone will qualify, it is something to be aware of, considering the unfortunate, heavy expenses of senior care today.

However, when applying for the first time, there tend to be some myths and misunderstandings regarding the Aid & Attendance application and who qualifies as well as the actual benefit itself. Before you decide if this benefit is right for you or a loved one, or even relevant at all, make sure to distinguish fact from fiction and have all of your questions answered beforehand.

Applying for Aid & Attendance is free.

Many automatically assume that the application for Aid & Attendance isn’t free. For that reason, they may avoid applying at all for fear they will pay a pesky application fee, only for it to get denied.

The truth is, applying for the VA benefit is free of charge. No one – and we mean no one – will be able to charge you for the application. There isn’t any fine print indicating hidden costs, and you won’t be charged if you do or don’t get your application accepted.

If for whatever reason your application gets denied, whether you didn’t fill out the forms correctly or failed to provide enough information, you can always reapply. However, there are a few disadvantages to reapplying: 1) the application is lengthy and complicated, and 2) you may have to wait 12 months before applying again.

You don’t even have to be a veteran to qualify for Aid & Attendance.

While Aid & Attendance is also sometimes referred to as the VA benefit, others can also qualify, including the surviving spouse of a Veteran. Additionally, Veterans who have not actually served in physical combat on the battlefield can also qualify.

Of course, there are still requirements before one can qualify for this benefit. In fact, not every Veteran or Veteran spouse can even qualify. For example, applicants must be in current need of assistance and must be able to provide a series of documents including proof of income, military records, and other information. The amount of active duty the veteran has had and during which war, among other considerations, will also be taken into account.

If you qualify for the benefit, it may impact other ways of paying for care.

Unfortunately, receiving Aid & Attendance can disqualify a veteran or the spouse of a veteran from receiving other forms of paying for care from both government programs and from the VA.

Even if you qualify, for instance, for both the Aid & Attendance benefit as well as Medicaid, it is impossible to receive compensation from both. For that reason, one should consider all programs they qualify for before deciding which will pay for their care.

Focusing on VA Aid & Attendance and Medicaid, there are clear distinctions between the two – besides the fact that Aid & Attendance is a federal benefit and Medicaid is regulated at the state level.

For example, Medicaid tends to have a quicker approval process, higher income limits, and lower asset limits. And according to Paying for Senior Care, Medicaid is most relevant for nursing home care while Aid & Attendance is best suited for assisted living or home care. That said, one program may be more suitable for one or another depending on one’s assets, needs for care, and the like. To decide which program may be best for you or a loved one, make sure to speak with a professional.

Before applying for this VA benefit, be aware of other myths.

Apart from the myths we previously discussed, there are other misconceptions many hold regarding Aid & Attendance. The problem with not being properly informed of the truths of Aid & Attendance is that many may either avoid the application process altogether, fill out the form incorrectly, or even find that their application gets denied because they never qualified from the start.

There’s a lot of dishonest information circulating regarding Aid & Attendance, but fortunately, we have a FREE guide discussing more who’s eligible for the benefit, how much one may be able to receive from the benefit, and the next steps for the application process.

If you have any further questions regarding the Aid & Attendance benefit or other forms of paying for senior care, reach out to our Idaho Estate Planning team. We have the information or resources for you to turn to. After all, staying informed is critical, and finding the best method of paying for senior care is important.