Memory Care for Virginia’s Veterans
The United States set up the U.S. Veterans Administration to serve the nation’s veterans. The VA offers a number of Alzheimer’s and memory care benefits for veterans and spouses who suffer from dementia.
Journalists from Daily Press secured information about the veteran populations in Virginia from the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC). They found that Virginia had 777,314 veterans in 2013, which works out to about 12 percent of the state population.
For those who have Alzheimer’s, the process of selecting an ideal memory care community can be overwhelming. Not only that, many family members and individuals may wonder how they can afford the level of care they need. The below information details what you need to know about obtaining VA benefits for memory care in Virginia.
About Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia, which is a condition associated with severe memory loss and other cognitive problems that interfere with a person’s daily life. Alzheimer’s disease causes brain cells and brain cell connections to degenerate and die. Cellular degeneration and death eventually destroys memory and other essential mental functions.
The main symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are memory loss and confusion. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s can interfere with the individual’s ability to perform activities of daily living – the person will require complete assistance with even the most rudimentary activities, such as eating or combing one’s hair.
There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Medication and management strategies frequently provide temporary relief from symptoms. Veterans and other people with Alzheimer’s disease eventually require around-the-clock care and supervision.
About 10 percent of people over the age 65 have Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. According to sources cited by the Veteran’s Administration (VA), veterans are 60 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s or other dementia.
Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the nation. One in three seniors, including veterans, dies from Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.
Managing Alzheimer’s disease can be expensive, costing about $56,800 per year to care for someone with this memory problem. Fortunately, the VA offers benefits for Alzheimer’s disease and memory care for our nation’s veterans.
Guide for Navigating Benefits for Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Care for Veterans
What help is there for Veterans with Alzheimer’s?
One benefit is the veterans Aid and Attendance (A&A) pension offering a number of benefits that ease the financial burden of care for vets who require assisted living for Alzheimer’s and memory care or other conditions. More than one-third of veterans are eligible for A&A
A&A also provides benefits for surviving spouses requiring assisted living for memory care or other conditions. A&A can help reduce the cost of care for veterans and surviving spouses. The Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit Rates for 2017 can provide up to:
- $1,830 per month to a veteran
- $2,903 per month to two veterans married
- $2,170 per month to a veteran with a spouse
- $1,438 per month to a veteran with a sick spouse
- $1,176 per month to the surviving spouse of a veteran
Like Social Security, this pension is dependable. The Department of the Treasury pays the benefit directly to the individual. The veteran or spouse can use these awarded funds for in-home care, board and care, assisted living communities and private-pay nursing homes.
The application process for A&A involves three basic steps: gathering documents, filling out the various forms and mailing the completed application with the documents.
Veterans must meet certain criteria to apply. Wartime veterans with 90 days or more of active duty with at least one day beginning or ending during a period of war are eligible to apply for A&A. The veteran’s surviving spouse is also eligible to apply, as long as the marriage ended due to the death of the veteran.
The individual who applies must meet certain medical and financial qualifications.
Medical Qualifications for A&A Benefit
A vet must meet certain medical qualifications to apply for an A&A benefit. The wartime veteran or surviving spouse must require the assistance of another person to perform everyday activities, such as eating, dressing and undressing, going to the bathroom and more. Wartime veterans or surviving spouses who have lost their eyesight also qualify, as do residents in an assisted living facility or in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity.
Application for A&A benefits requires a medical evaluation from a physician and current medical conditions.
Financial Qualifications for Aid and Attendance Benefit
The applicant must have limited net worth and net income, and have a certain amount in out-of-pocket medical expenses. An applicant must have on average less than $80,000 in assets, for example, excluding the value of their home and vehicles.
Applying for Benefits
Veterans and surviving spouses can find out if they are eligible for A&A benefits by filling out the form on the VeteranAid.org website. Applicants can call VeteranAid.org at (866) 584-7191 for help finding assisted living in their local area.
Step 1: Gather the necessary documents
The administrators of A&A need a great deal of information about a veteran or surviving spouse’s medical and financial information. Applicants should gather the necessary documents before applying. Before applying, veterans and surviving spouses should familiarize themselves with the application process so that they are better prepared to speak with the Veterans’ Affairs office.
Applicants can submit a one-page VA Form 21-0966, known as the INTENT TO FILE A CLAIM FOR COMPENSATION AND/OR PENSION, OR SURVIVORS PENSION AND/OR DIC. This form will enter the claim into the system before the applicant sends in the complete application. While using this form is optional, it can help establish a date for any retroactive payments after the VA awards the benefit. Applicants submitting an Intent to File must submit the full application within one year to ensure the validation of VA Form 21-0966.
Anyone wishing to apply for the A&A Improve pension must prepare and file a number of documents.
- Discharge/Separation Papers (DD-214)
- Applicants who need a copy of his or her military records can either fill out Standard Form 180 or visit the National Archives website to receive further instructions on how to request those records
- Copy of Marriage Certificate
- Applicants must submit all marital information, unless the veteran is applying for himself or herself only
- Copy of the Death Certificate
- Surviving spouses must submit a copy of the veteran’s Death Certificate
- Copy of current Social Security award letter
Applicants must submit a current Social Security award letter, which is the letter that administration issues at the start of each year. This letter must state the beneficiary’s monthly amount for the following year.
Net worth information
Applicants must supply documents detailing information about including bank accounts, annuities, trusts, stocks, bonds, CDs and other financial resources.
Proof of income
Veterans and surviving spouses must supply proof of income gained from retirement, pensions, interest income gained from investments, annuities and more.
Applicants must supply a statement from a physician that includes current diagnosis, prognosis, medical status, name and address, the applicant’s ability to care for himself or herself, the individual’s ability to travel safely unattended and other pertinent health information.
Nursing Home Status Statement
Veterans or spouses who are in a nursing home or assisted living facility must submit a Nursing Home Status Statement and a Statement of Occupancy from the facility. The facility must supply the Statement of Occupancy.
Proof of out-of-pocket expenses
Applicants should supply documents that detail insurance premiums, medical bills, medications or any other medical expenses not reimbursed by insurance plans, Medicaid or Medicare.
List of physicians, medical professionals, medical equipment and treatments
List of all physicians, practitioners, specialists and hospitals visited within the previous year. Applicants should include billing statements that detail medical expenses. These medical expenses may include:
- Ambulance hire for transport
- Anesthetist for pain control
- Arch supports for foot problems
- Artificial limbs
- Artificial teeth
- Braces or crutches
- Cardiographs that measure the heart rate
- Chiropractic care for musculoskeletal problems and other health issues
- Convalescent home visits for medical treatment only
- Dental services, such as x-rays, fillings and cleaning
- Dermatology care for skin problems
- Prescription lenses
- Hearing aids, batteries for hearing aids
- Home health services
- Hospital expenses
- Insulin and other treatments for diabetes
- Insurance premiums covering medical insurance
- Invalid chair
- Lab tests
- Lip reading lessons that help applicants overcome a disability affecting communication
- Neurology care
- Nursing services for medical care
- Occupational therapy
- Ophthalmology care
- Optician for eyeglasses and vision care
- Oral surgery
- Physical examinations
- Physician care
- Physical therapy
- Podiatric care for foot problems
- Prescriptions and medications
- Psychiatric care
- Radium therapy
- Sacroiliac belt
- Seeing-eye dog and maintenance for visually impaired applicants
- Speech therapy
- Supplementary medical insurance (Part B) under Medicare
- Telephone/teletype special communications equipment for the deaf and hearing impaired
- Transportation expenses for medical purposes; benefits will cover 20 cents per mile plus parking and tolls or the actual fares for buses, taxi or other modes of transportation
- Vitamins prescribed by a physician; benefits do not cover vitamins taken as food supplements or to preserve general health
- Whirlpool baths for medical purposes
Medical expense report
Applicants should submit a medical expense report (VA Form 21P-8416). Veterans and spouses should submit banking information that facilitates direct deposit of A&A monthly payments; this information should include a voided check that gives the VA the bank routing number they need.
Court-appointed guardian documents
A court-appointed guardian of the applying veteran or the surviving spouse with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory problem needs to submit a certified copy of the court order pertaining to the guardianship appointment.
This is not applicable if the veteran or surviving spouse is over the age of 65.
Step 2: Complete the necessary VA Application Form for filing
Applicants must obtain and complete VA Form 21-527EZ and/or VA Form 21-534EZ for Special Improved benefits with Aid & Attendance. The forms include complete instructions for filing for A&A Improved Pension.
Step 3: Mail the application
The Veteran’s Administration is a massive organization and, as such, is prone to administrative mishaps when it comes to paperwork. Applicants may consider sending completed applications to the VA via Certified Mail “Return Receipt,” which helps the applicant avoid the possibility that the VA will state that they did not receive the application. Veterans and surviving spouses should keep a copy of the entire completed application for their records, as well as copies of any other correspondence with the VA.
The Veterans’ Administration has established a number of processing centers across the nation, and the professionals working at these centers are dedicated to processing applications for VA benefits. When mailing applications, applicants must ensure that they are sending their application to the correct center assigned for the state in which the applicant lives.
Applicants in Virginia and North Carolina should send their applications to:
Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
Attention: Philadelphia Pension Center
PO Box 5206
Janesville, WI 53547-5206
What to Expect after Filing for Aid & Attendance
Everyone’s experience with the Armed Services is a little different; each veteran’s experience with the VA can vary. Each applicant for Aid & Attendance has unique needs and faces different challenges, so the process may be more complicated for some applicants than it is for others. Much depends on which processing center handles the claim – some centers are more efficient than are others. The accuracy and completion of information on the application package also affects the process.
Applicants can expect the process to take between six and eight months for the processing of the application, and the issuance and delivery of a determination letter that tells applicants if they will receive benefits. Backlogs of claim processing can sometimes slow the approval and determination process.
In many cases, veterans and spouses cannot afford to pay for memory care while waiting for the approval of their application and the release of funds. Fortunately, the VA administration will provide funds dating back to the original filing date.
Applicants or spouses aged 90 or older can request expedition of the application process. The VA has laws that give priority to veterans or surviving spouses who are 90 or older. Applicants should include a cover letter noting this request with the application.
Appointment as Fiduciary
Normally, family members assign a Power of Attorney to help manage the patient’s affairs, but the Veteran’s Administration does not recognize Power of Attorney (POA) or Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA). Instead, the VA approves an individual to act as the fiduciary. Applicants must meet with a Field Agent. There may be a considerable wait time to schedule this meeting, as there is a lack of Field Agents. Applicants should include form VA Form 21-0845, which is the Authorization to Disclose Personal Information to a Third Party. This form gives fiduciaries the ability to communicate with the Veterans’ Administration on behalf of the claimant. The VA will not discuss the application with anyone not listed as a fiduciary or claimant.
Veterans, spouses and fiduciaries may request assistance with the claim by filing the VA Form 21-22: Appointment of Veterans Service Organization as Claimant’s Representative.
Veterans and spouses can also contact Berkeley Oaks for help during the VA benefits process. Berkeley Oaks is Williamsburg’s only dedicated memory care community. Berkeley Oaks is located in the historic area of Williamsburg, Virginia, a comfortable setting that offers memory care services that address the needs of both veterans and their families. The memory care professionals at Berkeley Oaks support a joyful, engaged life for those facing memory challenges.
Berkeley Oaks offers Valeo™, a wellness philosophy integrated into every aspect of care and service offered. Valeo signature programs are customized to allow residents to have meaningful interactions through one-on-one activities, build meaningful relationships with others and establish connections with others through positive approaches to socialization. The memory care professionals at Berkeley Oaks believe that veterans with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments can continue to enjoy rich, fulfilling and dignified lives.