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November 24, 2013

VETERANS' CORNER: Many veterans, families don’t know of living care assistance

By JIM VINES

According to a Harris Interactive survey commissioned by “A Place for Mom, Inc.” (APFM), the nation’s largest senior living referral service, 70 percent of veterans and their families who are 55 and older are not aware of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Aid & Attendance benefit, which provides financial assistance to help pay for assisted-living care for veterans and their spouses.

The survey was conducted Nov. 4-8. As the supply of senior housing struggles to meet the needs of the U.S. senior population, the cost of care for seniors is steadily increasing. Simultaneously, Americans are finding that they are financially unprepared for both retirement and aging. Due to these factors, planning and overseeing care for an elderly loved one has become a source of strain for many families.

The survey results highlight what advisors have found to be true based on work with nearly 200,000 veterans since 2010. There is a gap in awareness when it comes to financial resources available to veterans and their spouses seeking assisted living care. Veterans and their spouses are often eligible for benefits, but the process to apply is not well promoted, or may be so complicated that families are unsure where to begin. APFM’s goal is to raise awareness and to help our nation’s veterans access the support they need as they seek senior care solutions.

While there are several required qualifications for the VA Aid & Attendance benefit, veterans can begin determining eligibility by considering three factors:

• Any veteran with 90 days of consecutive active duty services.

• Any veteran who served at least one day during active war time.

• The surviving spouse of a veteran, if married at the time of a veteran’s death.

The VA Aid & Attendance benefit applies to individuals who require the regular attendance of another person to assist in bathing, dressing, meal preparation, medication monitoring or other activities of daily living. This benefit is available to individuals who reside in assisted living communities, residential care homes, skilled nursing facilities and those receiving personal in-home care. Benefits for veterans, couples and a surviving spouse can range anywhere from $1,000-$2,600 a month in financial assistance.

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