Understanding and navigating the options for aging care available through the VA can be intimidating. We hope this guide can explain the available options and how to access more information.
In short, yes, the VA does pay for various long-term care options. However, it is essential to note that not all options are available to all veterans. Some programs’ eligibility criteria specifically state that the recipient cannot be eligible to receive a different VA benefit simultaneously. Additionally, this is not an exhaustive list and information changes. For the most comprehensive and up-to-date information, see the VA’s guide to long-term care available on their website.
VA Assistance for Residential Care
Within the realm of residential care, there are many categories of facilities and levels of care. Many different variables may affect the choices we make about which type of environment is right for ourselves or our loved ones including geographic location, availability of services, level of funding available, and personal preferences.
Community Nursing Homes
These facilities are what most people think of when they hear “nursing home” or “assisted living”. These facilities are not owned by the VA but are under contract to offer services to veterans through the VA.
Payment for services received by veterans in Community Nursing Homes comes largely from VA Health Care (a.k.a. VHA). TRICARE for Life and CHAMPVA for Life, which work similar to Medicare supplemental insurance plans, will pay for short stays in nursing homes. An additional source of funds is veterans’ pensions, specifically the Basic Pension and Aid and Attendance.
Community Living Centers
Similar to Community Nursing Homes, Community Living Centers offer the same services as well as options for short or long-term stays. However, Community Living Centers are owned and operated by the VA, unlike Community Nursing Homes. Unfortunately, there are fewer of these locations than there are Community Nursing Homes.
For the vast majority of residents, payment for Community Living Centers comes from VA Health Care. Some residents may be required to make a co-payment which is paid out-of-pocket. TRICARE for Life and CHAMPVA for Life may pay co-payments for short-term residents, although holders of these types of insurance are less likely to reside in Community Living Centers.
State Veterans Homes
State Veterans Homes are long-term care facilities for veterans. Some of these facilities offer adult day care. The VA does not run these facilities, rather, the state government does. These facilities also offer similar services and experiences to Community Living Centers or Community Nursing Homes.
Payment for State Veterans Homes can come from a variety of sources such as VA Health Care, Medicare, Medicaid and the Aid and Attendance Benefit. A map of State Veterans Homes is available here. Interested veterans should contact these residences directly to ask about funding.
Assisted Living Residences
Assisted living provides residents with a community style of living with private suites or even apartments for personal space and belongings. Residents have options regarding communal meals or preparing their own food in their private spaces. There is care available 24/7 for daily living tasks, mobility, and other needs. There are often social events and recreational activities for residents to partake in with others in the community.
The level of care offered in these facilities is far less than the level of care offered in the previous options and it is best if residents can manage well without constant supervision.
Paying for assisted living is more complicated than many of the other types of care available to veterans. Some assisted living facilities will separate care services from room and board for billing purposes
Although the VA does not pay directly for assisted living nor do they offer their own assisted living services, there are several means by which veterans can receive assistance from the VA to pay for assisted living. The most common way is through the Aid and Attendance Program however veterans are also able to seek assistance from the Veteran Directed Care Program.
Adult Foster Homes
Adult Foster Homes, sometimes called Adult Family Homes, are a scaled-back version of assisted living residences. These homes often care for communities of 6 residents and have fewer recreational facilities and activities than assisted living residences. These facilities are typically less expensive than assisted living facilities and can be paid for with the same programs.
Medical Foster Homes
Medical Foster Homes can be considered scaled-down versions of nursing homes. The VA does not cover the room and board charges from these facilities, however, they will cover most care charges.
To be eligible for a Medical Foster Home, one must also be enrolled in Home Based Primary Care through the VA health plan. Aid and Attendance pension benefits can also be applied towards the room and board cost of medical foster homes.
There are plenty of options available for aging care for veterans. For you or your loved one that may look like an Assisted Living Facility or it may not, there are a wide variety of options available to fit a wide variety of needs. Additionally, there are options available for in-home care such as medical or personal care, respite care, or chore services. Lastly, there are services that can allow for aging in place such as the addition of medical equipment in the home or home modification services. No matter your needs, there are resources available for veterans, it just may take a bit of investigation first.
For more help to understand and navigate all of the resources available to you, contact your local Colorado Veterans Affairs Office.