The Arbor Company salutes the men and women who served our country and thank them and their families for the sacrifice they have given. One way to give back to Veterans is to make available valuable resources about the benefits they can receive. 

Emily Schwartz, president of Veterans Financial, is back to host a webinar all about veteran’s benefits. She will help us understand the VA benefit—eligibility, amounts, and how it can help pay for senior care and living.

Watch the video for a preview of the webinar and then visit ArborCompany.com/VA to register!

Video Transcript

- Hello everyone, and welcome into Senior Living Live. My name is Melissa. We appreciate you watching either via video or listening via podcast. Well, Veteran's Day is right around the corner and we like many of you will celebrate and honor the service of all US military veterans. One way that we do that and one way that we always tried to help others, we wanna arm you with facts and information as best we can for topics relating to senior living. And in the spirit of Veterans Day, we invite Emily Schwartz to come on back and host a webinar all about veterans benefits. Emily, good to see you again. How are you doing today?

- I am great and it is a pleasure to see you. I can't believe it's been a year already.

- It has been a year since the last time we chatted. It seems like it's kind of flown by, maybe a little bit different than the year before when everything seemed to be in slow motion. This year has just gone by so quickly. But here we are, it's November again. And of course we're back to Veterans Day and just like last year, we've got you back to talk all about veterans benefits. First Emily, your presentations are always on point. You absolutely know your stuff when it comes to this particular topic. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

- Well, thanks so much for having me today first of all. So I am President of Veterans Financial. We've been helping families since 2003 with the Aid and Attendance Benefit from the Department of Veterans Affairs. And then in 2020, I started a website called AidandAttendance.com which is an online resource to help families with the same VA Aid and Attendance Benefit. I've been working with seniors for a very long time, and I actually grew up in Washington, DC. So I have an affinity for the federal government and everything that it can provide to our veterans and families.

- Excellent, yeah, and this was a really popular topic. We had a lot of engagement with viewers last year when we talked about this, gonna do it again with a little bit of a different twist, just kind of how we can use those veterans benefits to help potentially pay for senior living among other things. So Emily people who have served, they wanna know what these benefits are, how these benefits can help them. So in what ways can veterans benefits help seniors and what range do people tend to see in terms of the award amount for veterans benefits?

- So the Aid and Attendance Benefit is an amazing pension. It's an income that will come into the veteran or surviving spouses checking account every month, just like Social Security for as long as they are paying for senior care, out of pocket senior care. So it does help assisted living, residence, memory care, home care, adult daycare. You can even add on your prescriptions and health insurance onto the application. And the benefits are going up, it's actually quite exciting. For 2022, I almost said 2021, for 2022, the benefits are going up 5.9%. So that means a surviving spouse can get $1,317 a month, all the way up to the highest benefit amount of a married veteran who needs care himself $2,431 a month. That's basically 16,000 to $29,000 a year to help pay for your key senior care expenses.

- Yeah and that is big news that did jump up some, so I think a lot of people will be very interested to hear about this. Now, when we talk about veterans benefits, what are some of the biggest misconceptions that people have?

- So the biggest misconception, is that they think their income is too high. And oftentimes people actually apply for this benefit before they have started paying for senior living. Well, that will likely get them a denial from the VA because you have to demonstrate what your monthly and annual income is. And it's from both parts of the couple, even if only one part needs care. And then you also have to show the VA what your medical expenses are. So, as I mentioned before, assisted living, memory care, health insurance, premiums, prescriptions, they can all be deducted from your income and likely most folks that are moving into senior living, are going to end up with a net income of zero. Zero will afford them that 13, 17, all the way up to the 24, 31, because their medical expenses have zeroed out their income. So oftentimes people think their income is too high, but when you start paying for care, your income drops usually to zero.

- Wow, yeah. And those are the nuggets that we find out when we have these webinars. So I'm glad you said that. I know we'll talk about that again in your presentation. And again, the beauty of it is people are there to ask you questions live. So we loved that so much. So we did talk just a little bit briefly earlier on about surviving spouses. So can we talk about benefits as it relates to those individuals and how they're capped?

- Yes, so surviving spouses get about $1,000 less than a married veteran. That number is 13, 17, that's what we anticipate the number going up actually officially on December one. That's the beginning of the VA's fiscal year. So anybody who applies this month thanks to listening to this webinar, would be receiving that higher dollar amount than folks that have been on it all this year. Surviving spouses can get that maximum benefit amount but anybody can actually get a partial benefit amount and we will cover this as well during the presentation. If you are not spending all of your income, you might get part of the benefit and it doesn't just come in 50% and 100%, it can be any number between one and 13, 17 based on what your income is, and what your care expenses are.

- Gotcha, okay, very good. Now, one question that comes up every time we have a webinar with you, is am I eligible? Every single person wants to know, I served at this time and for this long. Now, how does that information play into receiving these benefits?

- Yes, the first criteria of this benefit, and there are four and I will go over all four in detail in the 30 minute presentation, but let's talk about number one, because that's really gonna tell you whether you want to have a chance of getting this benefit. So this benefit is a veteran benefit, but it is also a wartime veteran benefit, that is really who is eligible for it. So typically the people moving into senior living are veterans of World War II, Korea or Vietnam and there are exact dates beginning and end of the wars. And they're set aside by Congress and they're what the VA recognizes for pension. That's what this is, a pension. So you need one day of active duty during a wartime period. That one day doesn't actually have to be in combat. That's also another misunderstanding. People think you would have to be in Korea or be in Vietnam. That's not correct. You need to have served one day during those wartime periods of active duty, and then you need a total of 90 active duty days. So 89 can actually be during peace time. I have seen that happen, not that often 'cause usually people are in for at least a year of wartime, but you need one day of active duty during wartime and a total of 90 active duty days. Not in a row, I should say that, they don't have to be consecutive, just a total. They can be added together.

- Yeah, so that'll tell you right off the bat, am I eligible? Am I not eligible? And then if you are, then we continue down the list and we don't have that for your presentation. That's what we call a tease people, we tease you with the information to have you come on in and join us. So veterans benefits, of course, it is a topic that people wanna know about all year round. We thank you for joining us today to give us a little bit of a preview of what's to come for this webinar. But before we leave, if somebody has additional questions and they don't wanna wait for the webinar, how can they get in touch with you?

- So you can either give Veterans Financial a call. We are East Coast. So 9:00 to 5:30 Monday through Friday, our phone number is 835-1541, again, that's 835-1541, but the internet is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you wanna check out your eligibility right away, or when we're closed, you can go to AidandAttendance.com. So that's www. Aid A-I-D A-N-D A-T-T-E-N-D-A-N-C-E.com, AidandAttendance.com. You can do a free eligibility survey right from the homepage.

- All right, Emily Schwartz, my lovely friend, thank you so much for being here to tease the webinar. It is again, November 11th, at 4:00 PM Eastern time. It's called Understanding the VA Benefit for Senior Living. We will see you then.

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