The word is getting out that VA Pension Aid and Attendance can be a valuable source of funds to help pay for long-term care. What many veterans don’t know is that service-connected disability, what VA calls “Compensation” can also help pay for long-term care.
VA disability compensation is service-connected, meaning the disability must be related to military service. Unlike Pension with Aid and Attendance, Compensation has no requirement that the veteran have served during a particular time period. Also unlike Pension with Aid and Attendance, Compensation is not means tested, meaning that the veteran’s income and savings do not matter.
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VA Compensation assigns a disability rating between 0% and 100% based on how the disability impacts your daily life. The rating you receive determines the amount of your monthly tax-free payment.
What many veterans and their families don’t realize is that changes in how the disability impacts your daily life can result in increased rating by the VA. In addition, VA Compensation recipients may also be eligible to receive additional monthly benefits, called Special Monthly Compensation. Special Monthly Compensation is available to help a veteran who requires significant assistance with personal care needs by another person or a veteran who is bedridden because of the disability.
What this means is that a veteran whose service-connected disability significantly affects their need for long-term care at home, in an assisted-living facility, or a nursing home, should consider whether the need for such care is causally related, even only in part, to the service-connected disability.
For example, a Vietnam veteran diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus Type II may be presumptively disabled as a result of Agent Orange exposure. If the Diabetes Mellitus Type II eventually progresses to the point where the veteran needs to live in an assisted-living facility as a result, a veteran may be eligible for an increased disability rating and Special Monthly Compensation to help cover the cost.
To qualify in a case such as this, the veteran would need to show a causal connection between the Diabetes Mellitus Type II and the need for care. It is not necessary, however, that the veteran show financial need.
These cases are won and lost based on medical evidence and the way it is presented to the VA. It is recommended that a veteran pursuing such a claim seek the advice of a qualified advocate.