Step-by-Step Guide: How to Apply for VA Benefits for Assisted Living
If you or your loved one is looking to apply for VA benefits for assisted living, look no further. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs supports military service members, retired members, and military spouses with various programs and (VA) benefits throughout a veteran’s life.
Applying for VA benefits can seem daunting, but we’ve simplified the steps and broken down the process for applying for VA benefits for assisted living.
What Are VA Assisted Living Benefits?
Assisted living provides elderly individuals personalized care in a home-like setting, also known as an assisted living community. These specialized residential locations are created to meet the health and wellness needs of individuals with various illnesses, medical conditions, or simply aging-related needs. In addition, many assisted living communities provide state-regulated support per health assessments.
For veterans, veterans affairs (VA) benefits could be available to veterans and spouses who require assistance with daily living activities, such as bathing, dressing, transportation to and from appointments, and other medical services.
Some VA benefits may include coverage of costs for assisted living, including room and board, as well as medical supplies and equipment. However, read on to learn about which VA benefits can be used towards assisted living and how the benefits work.
How Do I Apply for VA Benefits for Assisted Living?
Technically, the VA does not pay for assisted living directly. However, various VA benefits can be utilized towards assisted living costs. To apply for VA benefits for assisted living, an individual must meet the eligibility criteria to qualify for a particular benefits program.
Prior to applying for VA benefits, do your research to understand what your or your loved one’s care needs are.
If you need guidance on care needs – call one of Nurse Next Door’s Care Team members at 1-877-588-8609. They will happily guide you through identifying the care services you or your loved one may need going forward.
Before applying for VA benefits, explore the benefits available on the VA website. Benefits you may consider for assisted living include but are not limited to:
1) Aid and Attendance Benefit & How to Apply
VA offers this benefit to war-era veterans and their surviving spouses called the Aid and Attendance benefit. Veterans can utilize the funds they receive from the Aid and Attendance benefit to pay for their assisted living costs. The benefit provides eligible veterans up to $3,536 (tax-free) monthly. The funds are meant to help individuals who need support with at least two daily living activities, including bathing, dressing, toileting, eating, and transferring. A doctor or professional note is typically required to be eligible for attendance benefits.
You must first receive a VA pension to apply for aid and attendance. If you meet these criteria and the following, you can apply using the VA Form 21-2680 to download and send to the VA. For more details on how to apply, visit the Aid and attendance page on the VA website.
“At least one of these must be true:
- You need another person to help you perform daily activities, like bathing, meal preparation and feeding, and dressing, or
- You have to stay in bed—or spend a large portion of the day in bed—because of illness, or
- You are a patient in a nursing home due to the loss of mental or physical abilities related to a disability, or
- Your eyesight is limited (even with glasses or contact lenses, you have only 5/200 or less in both eyes; or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less).” 
2) VA Pension & How to Apply
A VA Pension is a tax-free pension assistance program created for low-income veterans. Again, the funds received from the VA Pension can be used at the discretion of the individual and may go towards assisted living costs. *Note that this benefit differs from the basic pension received through Veterans Affairs.
Before applying, find out if you’re eligible for VA pension benefits and gather as much information as you’ll require to complete your pension application.
Have this information ready:
- Social Security number and VA file number (required)
- Your military history or your spouse’s military history (required)
- Your financial information and the financial information of your dependents (required)
- Your work history
- Your bank account direct deposit information
- Any medical information relevant to your application
- Once you have all of your information ready, you can apply using the VA pension portal or by mail or in person. For more information on applying for a VA pension, visit the VA website.
3) VA Disability Compensation & How to Apply
Sick or disabled veterans who’ve become injured or ill due to their military service or had a pre-existing condition that worsened due to active duty can receive tax-free monthly payments from Veterans Affairs. The VA Disability Compensation benefit can contribute towards assisted living expenses, including an assisted living facility, assisted living services, and specialized care, or can be utilized however they choose.
To qualify for VA Disability compensation, the following must be applicable:
“Both of these must be true:
- You have a current illness or injury (known as a condition) that affects your mind or body, and
- You served on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training
And at least 1 of these must be true:
- You got sick or injured while serving in the military—and can link this condition to your illness or injury (called an in-service disability claim), or
- You had an illness or injury before you joined the military—and serving made it worse (called a preservice disability claim), or
- You have a disability related to your active-duty service that didn’t appear until after you ended your service (called a postservice disability claim).” 
If you meet the criteria mentioned above, you can apply for disability compensation through the VA via their website.
4) VA Health Care Benefits & How to Apply
Disabled veterans may access select long-term care services in assisted living communities. VA Health Benefits cover some long-term care services for eligible veterans, but copays or other fees could apply.
Before you begin your application for VA Health care, first gather all of the relevant information to get started:
- “Social Security for you, your spouse, and your qualified dependents.
- Your military discharge papers (DD214 or other separation documents).
- Insurance card information for all insurance companies that cover you, including any coverage provided through a spouse or significant other. This includes Medicare, private insurance, or insurance from your employer.
- Gross household income from the previous calendar year for you, your spouse, and your dependents. This includes income from a job and any other sources. Gross household income is your income before taxes and any other deductions.
- Your deductible expenses for the past year. These include certain health care and education costs.” 
Once you have the right information, you can apply using their online portal to begin.
Who is Eligible for Veterans Benefits for Assisted Living?
Eligibility for veterans’ benefits varies by benefit or program. The VA may consider various factors that influence eligibility unique to each benefit.
Not all veterans are eligible for veterans benefits, especially benefits used for assisted living. The main eligibility requirements to qualify to include:
- Age 65 or older (or on permanent disability)
- Honorable discharge
- A minimum service requirement
There are also some financial and medical eligibility requirements that you should consider as you explore the various veterans’ benefits programs.
Do Veterans Affairs Pay for These Services?
Veterans affairs benefits do NOT directly cover assisted living costs like room and board with assisted living. However, the funds received from different VA benefits could assist in covering some of the costs of assisted living.
The amount a veteran or surviving spouse may receive through VA benefits varies based on the select benefits eligibility. Other alternatives for veterans are the VA Community Living Centers, Community Nursing homes, or State Veterans Homes.
Sick or disabled veterans may qualify for other long-term care services as part of VA health benefits. These services include the following:
- Physical therapy
- Assistance with activities of daily living
- Comfort care or pain management
- Caregiver support services
How Can I Find Veteran-Friendly Assisted Living Communities?
It can be challenging to find veteran-friendly assisted living communities in your area. Luckily Veterans Affairs has three different options for veterans who need assisted living.
1) VA Community Living Center: these centers are offered by the VA and offer nursing care 24/7, designed to feel like home. A VA community living center is excellent for veterans needing home care, with over 100 locations scattered across the USA.
2) Community Nursing Homes: the VA contracts non-VA nursing homes in many parts of the country so you can get care near your home and family.
3) State Veterans Homes: state-owned centers that provide full-time care for Veterans and, sometimes, non-Veteran spouses.
4) Other Organizations: such as the Senior Veterans Service Alliance and National Care Planning Council, can also offer some benefits for assisted living for veterans.
5) Nurse Next Door: provides assisted living services directly in the comfort of your home. Nurse Next Door is here to help veterans with long-term care and support while they live at home for longer.
We’d love to set up a FREE Caring Consult™ to build a senior long-term care plan catering to your needs and budget.
Give us a call toll-free at +1(877) 588-8609 to get started!
If you need further support with the VA benefits, there are VA benefits advisors who can guide you through applying. For more information, visit the VA website.
We’ve written several articles to help you understand the Veterans Affairs and the benefits you or your veteran loved one may be eligible for. You may be interested in the following articles:
Exploring VA Benefits: Does the VA Cover Home Health Care for Veterans
Veterans Affairs Caregiver Program
How Can U.S. Veterans Access Their Home Care Benefits
Who Qualifies for Veterans Benefits for Assisted Living?
Check out Nurse Next Door’s Caring Blog for more information on the VA and veteran resources!