Using V.A. Benefits to Pay for Long-Term Care

man in hospital

Who's eligible for V.A. long-term care benefits?

The V.A. provides nursing home and other long-term care -- the V.A. calls it "extended care" -- for many veterans. Those eligible for V.A. nursing home or noninstitutional long-term care include:

  • Veterans with a service-connected disability rating (or combined disability ratings) of 70 percent or higher.

  • Veterans with a 60-percent service-connected disability rating who are unemployable, or who have a rating of "permanent and totally disabled."

  • Veterans with a service-connected disability that's clinically determined to require nursing home care.

  • Veterans who require nursing home care for any nonservice-connected disability and who meet income and asset criteria.

  • Other veterans on a case-by-case basis, with priority given to veterans with service-connected disabilities and those who need care for post-acute rehabilitation, respite, hospice, geriatric evaluation and management, or spinal cord injury.

More detailed information about eligibility for these nursing home and other extended care V.A. programs is available from the V.A.'s Office of Geriatrics and Extended Care.

What nursing home benefits are available from the V.A.?

The V.A. provides long-term nursing home care through different types of facilities. There are the V.A.'s own nursing homes, and there are private nursing homes (called "community nursing homes" in V.A. language) that contract with the V.A. to care for veterans when no nearby V.A. facility is available. There are also the V.A.'s Community Living Centers, which provide short-term residential care along with ongoing outpatient care. And the V.A. pays a small part of the cost of residence in State Veterans Homes for some veterans who are not eligible for direct V.A. nursing home care.

Eligible veterans may qualify for residence in a V.A. nursing home if they have functional physical and/or mental impairment serious enough to require nursing home-level care. If there is no V.A. nursing home close to the veteran's home and family, or there are no available spaces in a nearby V.A. nursing home, the V.A. may pay for a veteran to reside in a nearby private nursing home if that facility has a contract with the V.A. to provide care to veterans.

Community Living Centers are another type of V.A. long-term care facility. They provide a combination of short-term residential and ongoing community care for veterans with chronic stable conditions, including dementia; those requiring rehabilitation or short-term special services such as respite or intravenous therapy; and those who need hospice or other palliative care at the end of life. Most Community Living Centers provide short-term rehabilitative or end-of-life care for up to 100 days. They can also provide longer-term care for veterans who require prolonged rehabilitation, are unable to obtain a place in a community nursing home, or otherwise lack a clinically appropriate community alternative.

What V.A. long-term home and community care is available?

The V.A. has several long-term community and home care programs to help veterans who do not qualify for nursing home-level care or who want to live at home but need regular nonmedical assistance with the activities of daily living.

Community Residential Care is a program that provides room and board, plus limited personal care and supervision, for veterans who don't require nursing home care but aren't able to live independently because of medical or psychiatric conditions, and who have no family who are able to provide care.

Hospice/Palliative Care provides comfort-oriented and supportive services for a veteran who is in the advanced, end-of-life stages of an incurable disease. This can include respite care, which allows for short-term inpatient care for the veteran in a V.A. hospital or nursing facility, which temporarily relieves the veteran's spouse or other caregiver from the burden of caring for the veteran at home.

When a veteran applies for extended care, he or she is evaluated by a Geriatric Evaluation and Management (GEM) team. Based on the veteran's needs, the veteran can be provided with:

  • Home health care, which provides long-term basic medical care to chronically ill veterans in their own homes under the coordinated care of an interdisciplinary treatment team.

  • Homemaker/home health aide services, which are health-related and minor homemaking services provided by a public or private home care agency.

  • Adult day health care, which provides health maintenance and rehabilitative services to veterans in a group setting during daytime hours, either at a V.A. or community facility.

What's the cost to a veteran for V.A. long-term care benefits?

For extended care services, veterans may be subject to a co-payment of up to $97 per day. The amount of the co-payment depends on the veteran's V.A. health system priority group and individual financial circumstances, and on the type of care or service provided. The amount of co-payment for extended care services is based on the income, and for some services the assets, of both the veteran and the veteran's spouse.

For extended care services expected to last 180 days or less, the V.A. looks only at the income of the veteran and spouse, taking into account the veteran's expenses. For extended care services expected to last 181 days or longer (such as residence in a nursing home), the V.A. looks at the income and the assets of the veteran and spouse. Details of these financial calculations are available from the V.A.'s publication V.A. Copays and Charges.

How do I apply for V.A. long-term care benefits?

An application for V.A. long-term care is separate from the application to enroll in V.A. medical care coverage. To apply for nursing home or other long-term care, a veteran or veteran's caregiver must fill out a special application for extended care services.

Veterans receiving compensation or V.A. medical treatment for a service-connected disability need not file this separate application.

What will I need to apply for V.A. long-term care benefits?

When you apply for extended care, you will need to present evidence of the following:

  • Spouse's name, date of birth, and Social Security number

  • The current income of both the veteran and the veteran's spouse

  • The value of fixed and liquid assets of both veteran and spouse (only if applying for nursing home or other residential care)

  • Information identifying all health insurance, including all parts of Medicare (a copy of an insurance card and the veteran's Medicare card)

Where can I get help applying for V.A. long-term care benefits?

You can get free assistance with any V.A.-related question or problem by phone or in person through one of the V.A.'s Vet Centers, which are located in every state. You can also get assistance by contacting the V.A.'s Veterans Benefits Administration office nearest you. The V.A. also has a toll-free telephone help line at 800-827-1000.


4 months ago, said...

I am the 72 year old widow of a combat veteran. My husband served in the Korean War and was a member of the Airborne. He passed away in 1997. I am finding that I will need to change my living arrangement soon as I can no longer live alone and take care of my home. I receive only SSI and am trying to find financial help for paying for a place to live. I do not need assisted living as I am mobile and fairly healthy. I will only have the SSI income and non from the sale of my home.


5 months ago, said...

Recently a hemorrhage left one eye permanently blind. The VA (my only insurance) Doctor advised that the same thing could occur in my other eye at any time. A WWII Veteran, I live alone and have no close relatives. My income (S.S. and investments) is approximately $1,700 per mo. I can now drive, perform daily chores, read and watch DVDs with one eye. Question: What should I do BEFORE (if) the other eye fails, then are VA living facilities available for the totally blind?


about 1 year ago, said...

Once the VA application is filled out for assisted living, how long would it take before benifitss are paid


over 1 year ago, said...

My father receives VA benefits. He is 91, and was living in a assisted living home. I had to move him to a HIRK home. For he has become bedridden, incontinent and only ingest Ensure. Hospice has been assisting him as well. Do I need to inform VA, of this move. His care cost are approximately the same, but now considered medical care. Thank you his daughter and RP, Jaylene


over 2 years ago, said...

I have a 100 % service related brotherin law that has chronic schyzophrinia , particaial parkinson . WQe are trying to locate a home in the Pittsburgh , Butler Are that is free for him . It doesn't matter where but would like choices . The VA in Pittsburgh wants him out ASAP . Can you give a list of free skilled nursing homes . Thank you Charles R. Twentier Sr .


about 3 years ago, said...

I am a World War II veteran's wife. Would I be able to receive help if I went to Assisted Living?


over 3 years ago, said...

My dad is 100% service connected disabled. He has Dementia. He is 100% eligible for full time nursing home care. My question is, do they take his disability to pay for his care? The reason I ask, is because I want him (me) to be able to pay for his personal stuff. New clothes, personal items, or whatever he needs/wants. He also owns a home. Do they take that too? Thanks


over 3 years ago, said...

Clearly written and to-the-point information. Reference to other sites and documents very helpful. Thank you, Norm Boyajian


almost 4 years ago, said...

Thanks for share about this care, and i want to know that how to apply there, kindly contact me at my email-id. I need your help. Alzheimer's Care. http://www.homecareplus.ie/dementia-elderly-alzheimer-care.php


almost 4 years ago, said...

my brother in law was in the Korean War and is 80 and currently has Parkinsons, does he qualify for benefits for Assisted Living? He was not disabled in service.


over 4 years ago, said...

my brother lives in fenton missouri and is on hospice for ALS, his last wishes are to move closer to family in a VA or nursing home in west virginia or pennslyvania, how do we relocate him? its not safe for him where he is at right now in an apt. please respond, time is precious!


over 4 years ago, said...

how much does VA pay for In Home Residential Care for Disabled Vets? Also, how does someone like myself begin the process of opening a Residential Home to care for Disabled Vets, including locating the Vets. Themselves


about 5 years ago, said...

My father was almost killed in a Texas Veteran's home. They gave him so many drugs that it paralyzed his throat and he could no longer eat or drink. He was about to die so we took him to a hospital where he spent three weeks recovering from the "care" he received there. As I have told people about this story, I have heard many more like it.


over 5 years ago, said...

i get a lot of info from this site, i have a lot of things going on right now from my sister,she's really sick, i'm not sure whats wrong with her , but it is really affecting my life, she's after me tooth and nail. she is trying to destroy me , and i don't know why.her mind is really gone i do know that that, i can't put my finger on it. the stress from just her is weighing down our whole family.


about 6 years ago, said...

Does the government provide long term care for widow of service man who died on active duty?