Updated August 31, 2021
When grandpa needs care, families often turn to the VA to check military benefits, but what about when grandma needs care? To access financial aid that can cover grandma’s care, families may be able to tap the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) for a little known survivor’s pension. Many grandmothers are eligible, as widows of a wartime veterans, and don’t realize it.
Finding long term care for grandma can be more challenging than for grandpa when caregivers aren’t aware of VA benefits for surviving spouses.
Elder Women Struggle with Poverty and Disability
Women are living longer, yet their golden years aren’t always bright and shiny. The two biggest reasons why older women struggle are disability and poverty. “Despite the fact that women live more years than men, they can expect fewer active years,” said Vicki A. Freedman, a researcher at the University of Michigan who has studied disabilities among senior citizens.
According to the National Institute on Retirement Security, a nonprofit research center, women are 80% more likely than men to be impoverished at age 65 and older. Women age 75 to 79 are three times more likely. Could this happen to your grandma?
Available VBA Benefits for Grandma Care
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) doesn’t offer health care to veterans’ spouses or their surviving spouses. However, the VBA, a branch of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), offers a pension for surviving spouses of wartime veterans with limited financial resources. If the widow needs the “aid and attendance” of another for normal daily living, an additional “Aid and Attendance” benefit is added to the VA pension.
This makes the VA a valuable resource for many elderly, low-income, disabled grandmothers who need custodial care such as bathing, dressing, and medication reminders. Yet these VA benefits for women are often overlooked.
If grandpa served during wartime and was eligible, be sure you’re accessing this available benefit for your grandma’s care. You should also know that grandpa didn’t have to fight in combat, serve overseas, or suffer an injury during his service.
How to Qualify for the Survivors Pension with Aid and Attendance
The Survivors Pension benefit, is a tax-free monetary benefit payable to a low-income, surviving spouse of a deceased veteran with wartime service. The VBA adds an additional “Aid and Attendance” amount if the surviving spouse is disabled and needs assistance with activities of daily living. The surviving spouse’s net worth (income and assets) must be at or less than the Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA), a limit set by Congress each year ($130,773 in 12/2020). A primary residence or vehicle is not included the net worth.
In order to qualify, the deceased veteran must have:
- Served a minimum of 90 days active duty, (Persian Gulf War veterans may require additional time.)
- Served with at least one day during wartime
- Received an honorable or general discharge.
The surviving spouse of the deceased veteran must have been:
- Married to the veteran for at least one year
- Married to the veteran at this time of his/her death
- And in most cases, has not remarried.
Remember, your grandmother probably doesn’t know if she qualifies. The VA doesn’t notify surviving spouses that they are eligible. In fact, they don’t notify veterans that they may be eligible for the Aid and Attendance Pension, so often these benefits go unclaimed. The application process can also be overwhelming for someone who needs assistance with daily living.
Veterans Home Care can help with both grandpa’s and grandma’s care, especially when a veteran or surviving spouse chooses to use their VA benefit primarily for in-home care or adult daycare. With our expertise, we help file the claim, arrange for caregivers and get care started right away. There’s no wait for the VA funds to arrive.
For more information and to learn about veterans aid and attendance, contact Veteran’s Home Care at (888) 314-6075.