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Assisted Living Benefits for Veterans: A Comprehensive Guide 

Written by Melissa Lee
14 minute readLast updated November 1, 2022

Caring for a loved one who needs help with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as dressing or bathing, often feels overwhelming. Even if you have hired help, the stress and costs take a toll. But for military-connected individuals considering or currently in assisted living, help may be out there. If your loved one is a senior veteran facing the challenges of age-related chronic illnesses, a disabled veteran from the Global War on Terror, or a surviving spouse of a fallen service member, they may be eligible for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits or programs. Your loved one may choose to utilize monetary VA benefits or VA health care benefits to help cover the costs of assisted living.

Key Takeaways

  1. The VA does not pay for assisted living room and board. Future legislation may expand VA benefits to cover the basic costs of long-term care.
  2. Funds from VA benefits and programs may be used to pay for assisted living costs. Veterans and their spouses, surviving spouses, and other dependents may qualify for tax-free monthly payments through the VA.
  3. VA health care may provide long-term care services, such as physical therapy, for disabled or sick veterans. Covered services may be delivered in a veteran’s residence, including an assisted living community, but copays and coverage restrictions may apply.
  4. VA benefits may not be available to all military-connected individuals. However, veterans, their spouses, and surviving spouses may be able to cover assisted living costs through military discounts, military-only senior living communities, and VA home loans.
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Does the VA pay for assisted living room and board?

No — the VA does not pay for assisted living costs like room and board. However, there may be other ways to utilize VA benefits and programs to help cover the cost of assisted living.[01]

The Expanding Veterans’ Options for Long Term Care Act would direct the VA to operate a pilot program to provide assisted living services to veterans who qualify. While this bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate in May 2022, it hasn’t yet been signed into law.[02]

What does the VA cover for assisted living?

While the VA doesn’t directly pay assisted living bills for a veteran, their spouse, or for a surviving spouse, an individual can choose to use the money provided through VA assistance for assisted living expenses. For example, a veteran who receives a monetary VA benefit can choose to use that money toward any costs related to their long-term care, whether it’s used for room and board, extra transportation, or specialized medical care related to a new injury.

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What are VA assisted living benefits?

Military-connected individuals may utilize the following VA benefits for assisted living expenses and associated costs:

  • VA Aid and Attendance benefit. Assisted living for veterans, veteran spouses, and surviving spouses may be paid for with money from the Aid and Attendance benefit. These benefits are a monthly payment added onto an existing VA or Survivors Pension.[03]
  • VA Pension. Designed for eligible low-income veterans, this benefit provides a tax-free pension. The money from this benefit can be spent at the discretion of the recipient. It’s important to note that a VA pension is not the same as military retiree pay, which may require 20 years of service under the legacy High-3 system. However, military retiree pay can be another way to pay for assisted living outside of VA benefits.[04]
  • Survivors Pension. Similar to the VA Pension, the Survivors Pension offers a tax-free pension to low-income surviving spouses or other dependents. Payments are typically based on financial need, the veteran’s wartime service, and other factors.[04]
  • VA disability compensation. This is a monthly tax-free payment made to veterans who became sick or injured during their time in the military or who had an existing condition that was worsened by their military service. This benefit is not based on financial need. Veterans may choose to spend this payment however they choose, including paying for assisted living.[05]
  • VA health benefits. Sick or disabled veterans may have access to select long-term care services — which may be received while in assisted living — through VA health benefits. Some of these long-term care services may be covered through the standard health benefits available through VA health care for enrolled veterans. Copays and other fees may apply.[06]

What long-term care services does the VA pay for?

While the VA does not offer assisted living, veterans enrolled in the Veterans health system may be eligible to live in a VA community living center, community nursing home, or state veterans home. VA veterans benefits for nursing home care may cover a portion of such care for these nursing homes if a veteran meets specific eligibility guidelines, including service-connected status, level of disability, and income.[07]

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 much money can military-connected people receive from the VA?

The amount that a veteran, veteran spouse, surviving spouse, or another military-connected person may receive through VA benefits varies based on benefits eligibility. The military-connected person can typically spend the money from these benefits on whatever they choose. This includes paying for assisted living and associated costs.

Aid and Attendance benefit rates

Those who qualify for a VA pension or Survivors Pension and Aid and Attendance benefits may receive the maximum annual pension rates as follows:

  • $24,610 for a qualified veteran with no dependents
  • $29,175 for a qualified veteran with at least one dependent spouse or child
  • $39,036 for two qualified veterans who are married to each other and both qualify for Aid and Attendance
  • $15,816 for a qualified surviving spouse with no dependents
  • $18,867 for a qualified surviving spouse with at least one dependent [08], [09]

VA Survivors Pension benefit rates

Surviving spouses or a dependent child may receive the maximum annual pension rates as follows:

  • $9,896 for qualified surviving spouses with no dependents
  • $12,951 for qualified surviving spouses with at least one dependent
  • $2,523 for a qualified surviving child [09]

VA Pension benefit rates

Qualified veterans may receive the maximum annual pension rates as follows:

  • $14,753 for a veteran with no dependents
  • $19,320 for a veteran with at least one dependent spouse or child
  • $19,320 for two veterans who are married to each other [08]

VA disability compensation rates

Disability compensation generally depends upon the percentage of the disability rating. The VA usually determines this rating based on the severity of a veteran’s service-connected condition or disability. Veterans may be rated anywhere from 0% to 100%. The monthly payments are as follows for a veteran with no dependents:

  • $152.64 for a 10% disability rating
  • $301.74 for a 20% disability rating
  • $467.39 for a 30% disability rating
  • $673.28 for a 40% disability rating
  • $958.44 for a 50% disability rating
  • $1,214.03 for a 60% disability rating
  • $1,529.95 for a 70% disability rating
  • $1,778.43 for an 80% disability rating
  • $1,998.52 for a 90% disability rating
  • $3,332.06 for a 100% disability rating [10]

VA health benefits

The VA may cover some other long-term care services for sick or disabled veterans. However, the exact amounts of benefits provided are specific to the individual and their unique health needs.

How do military-connected people start applying for VA assisted living benefits?

A graphic showing an overview of steps to take for VA benefits to pay for assisted living

Before your loved one starts applying for VA benefits, they should explore the options available through the VA. They’ll need to consider which program or benefit may be the correct fit for their military-connected status.

If they are a veteran, you may want to see if they qualify for the following benefits:

  • Aid and Attendance benefit
  • VA pension
  • Disability compensation
  • VA Health benefits

If they are a veteran spouse and the veteran is living, it would be good to consider if they can qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit with their spouse.

If they are a surviving spouse or another surviving dependent, you should look closely at the Survivors Pension. They may have eligibility under this benefit.

Who qualifies for VA benefits for assisted living?

Eligibility for VA benefits varies by benefit or program and may take into account financial needs, wartime service, disability, toxic exposure, or other factors.

Depending upon the specific benefit or program and its qualifying factors, the following military-connected individuals may be eligible for VA benefits in certain circumstances:

  • Disabled or sick veterans
  • Wartime veterans
  • Other veterans
  • Veteran spouses
  • Surviving spouses
  • Other veteran dependents

If your loved one did not qualify in the past, it may be worth a second look. In 2022, the Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act resulted in a massive expansion of veterans eligible for VA health care and other benefits.[11]

Do veteran spouses receive benefits for assisted living?

Veteran spouses may qualify for VA benefits that can be used toward assisted living costs in some circumstances.

Additionally, Gold Star family members, the immediate relatives of the fallen, are also included in many VA benefits. The VA mission follows the direction of the late President Lincoln: “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.”

As such, surviving spouses and other veteran dependents may also qualify for benefits that may be used to pay for assisted living costs.

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How do I apply for VA benefits for assisted living?

It’s important to use the appropriate application when applying for VA assisted living benefits. Pay close attention to where forms need to be submitted for approval. In some cases, you may be able to apply online or through a VA regional office in your area.

You’ll need to use the following forms to apply for each benefit:

  • To apply for the Aid and Attendance benefit, complete the VA Aid and Attendance form, VA Form 21-2680.
  • To apply for a Survivors Pension, complete the VA Application for DIC, Survivors Pension and/or Accrued Benefits, VA Form 21P-534EZ.
  • To apply for a VA Pension, complete the VA Application for Veterans Pension, VA Form 21P-527EZ.
  • To apply for disability compensation, complete the VA Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits, VA Form 21-526EZ.
  • To apply for VA health benefits, complete the VA Instructions and Enrollment Application for Health Benefits, VA Form 10-10EZ.

Who can help me apply for veterans benefits?

  • Veteran Service Officers, or VSOs, at a VA regional office may be able to offer free, basic guidance on the application process and answer simple questions about available benefits. VSOs often volunteer across the country at American Legion halls and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) lodges.
  • Veterans organizations, such as VFWAmerican Legion, and DAV, may be able to answer questions about benefits and help you prepare your application free of charge.
  • Accredited VA consultants can help families assess eligibility for VA long-term care benefits and help with financial planning as you prepare your loved one’s application. Accredited VA consultants offer paid assistance to families whose benefit application has been denied. These consultants may be able to help determine why an application wasn’t successful and help make any changes before it’s resubmitted to increase the chances of approval. However, regulations prohibit consultants from charging families for help with an initial claim that hasn’t been denied.
  • Elder law attorneys can help families with financial planning and the VA benefits application process. When seeking advice, you should look for a reputable attorney who has experience with VA benefits.
  • A Place for Mom’s trusted, VA-accredited partners can help you and your loved one receive expert advice on veterans benefits. These include Elder Veterans Legal Aid Group, P.C. (800-878-2149) and Patriot Angels (1-833-879-6017).

Note: A Place for Mom may be compensated if you choose to use Patriot Angels’ services. Per our editorial guidelines, we clearly disclose financial relationships around featured products or services.

What are other ways veterans can save money on assisted living?

In recognition of their service and sacrifice, veterans may receive opportunities to access assisted living that aren’t available to the general public. These include the following:

  • The Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH). With two U.S. locations, the Armed Forces Retirement Home offers eligible spouses and veterans assisted living. As an independent agency within the federal government, the AFRH offers potentially more affordable assisted living rates than privately operated assisted living communities do. Resident fees are based upon a percentage of income and have a maximum monthly fee ceiling.[12]
  • Military and veteran discounts. Ask assisted living communities if they honor veterans, veteran spouses, or surviving spouses with a special discount. This may be a one-time or a recurring discount.
  • Military-only senior living communities. These communities may offer more affordable rates than communities open to the general public do. Some of these communities are operated by nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organizations, or not-for-profit entities. It’s important to note that these communities may restrict resident eligibility to officers and officer spouses only.
  • VA Home Loan. Veterans and eligible spouses may be able to purchase an eligible and VA-approved assisted living condo with no down payment required, no private mortgage insurance, and limited closing costs. VA home loans typically have more favorable terms than traditional loans do. This is because the VA guarantees part of the loan for the private lender.[13]

How can I find veteran-friendly assisted living?

It can be challenging to find an assisted living community that meets the unique preferences of your loved one. You may be looking for an environment that honors their service and connects them with other veterans, veteran spouses, and surviving spouses.

Touring a community can be a great way to learn if the atmosphere will suit your military-connected loved one. You can ask them the following questions:

  • Does your community have clubs for veterans and veteran spouses?
  • How does your community recognize and honor veterans on Veterans Day?
  • Does your community have connections to local branches of veterans organizations?

It may also be valuable to read online community reviews at A Place for Mom to learn more about specific communities.

The Senior Living Advisors at A Place for Mom can also help you discover assisted living options that meet your loved one’s needs, all at no cost to you.

SHARE THE ARTICLE

  1. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, September 23). VA financial benefits.

  2. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, October 12). VA aid and attendance benefits and housebound allowance.

  3. The United States Government. (2022, September 15). Military pay and pensions.

  4. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2021, November 23). VA disability compensation.

  5. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, October 12). VA nursing homes, assisted living, and home health care.

  6. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, October 14). Residential settings and nursing homes.

  7. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, October 12). 2022 VA pension rates for veterans.

  8. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, October 12). 2022 VA Survivors Pension benefit rates.

  9. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, October 12). 2022 veterans disability compensation rates.

  10. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, October 26). The PACT Act and your VA benefits.

  11. Armed Forces Retirement Home. Fees.

  12. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, March 23). VA home loans.

Meet the Author
Melissa Lee

Melissa Lee is a copywriter at A Place for Mom, where she primarily creates content for veterans and caregivers. She pairs over a decade of writing experience with expertise gained from her time as a military programs volunteer and military spouse. She studied journalism at the University of Kansas.

Edited by

Danny Szlauderbach

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