Emily Schwarz, Co-Founder of AidandAttendance.com, joins us to share valuable information regarding the Aid and Attendance benefit available to Veterans and their spouses.

Many Veterans and surviving spouses do not even know they are entitled to this monthly benefit from the VA to help pay for senior living. Through this episode, Emily teaches us how to navigate eligibility and how to apply for this lesser-known VA benefit.

Video Transcript

- Hello, everybody, and welcome to Senior Living Live. My name is Melissa. I hope you are having a fantastic day today. Well, we have one of our favorite guests joining us, Emily Schwarz, to talk with us about veterans benefits. This is a topic that Emily knows very, very well. And many of you have probably already benefited from her knowledge in some of our webinars in the past. She's here again to help today to answer the basic questions about veterans benefits. Now, this video is coming to you in conjunction with our partnership with Elderlife Financial Jeff Hudson. You see him there. He is here as well to tell us a little bit briefly about all the ways that Elderlife Financial can help you and your loved ones on their senior living journey. Jeff, hi. Good to see you.

- Thanks, Melissa, this is great. Great opportunity. Thank you guys all for joining us today. A quick brief message about Elderlife. We've been around for over 22 years and partnered with Arbor Communities for the last 11. I'd like to explain Elderlife and compare us to a financial aid office at a university. We're a one stop shop to help families build a long-term game plan to pay for their Arbor community. So we have experts, and in a single phone call, you'll get help with VA benefits, help understanding your insurance policies such as long-term care insurance or life insurance. We can connect you to local senior-focused real estate agents to not only help with the sale of your home but to build the transition plan into a community a state sales, packing, moving. Whatever's needed on a local level, our agents can help. We're gonna educate families on potential tax deductions. And then, we specialize in a short-term bridge loan, so a senior can move in immediately while they're waiting for other funds to begin. So I'm gonna go ahead and step aside and throw it over to Emily. Let her explain a little bit about VA benefits and how they can help you pay for senior living. Emily, take it away.

- Thanks so much, Jeff. Hi, everybody, I am Emily Schwartz, as Jeff introduced me. I am from the Aid and Attendance world. My company is aidandattendance.com, and we've been helping families with a VA benefit that helps pay for Arbor Company for over a decade, and we're really excited today to share with you how you might be eligible and how to apply for it.

- Emily, it's always good to see you. And again, this comes so easy for you because you've been in it for so long and you know the rules at the back of your hand. So let's just start with a broad question: in what ways can veterans benefits help seniors?

- So there are a lot of VA benefits, and oftentimes people are not aware of the Aid and Attendance benefit. Just to give you a broad spectrum, there are healthcare benefits, compensation benefits, home care benefits. But today, what we're gonna talk about is the Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit. It is through the pension side of the VA and it can provide a lot of money for seniors looking to move into assisted living in memory care.

- Yeah, and that's really what it's all about, right? Arbor Community and the Arbor Company basically operates senior living communities, and many people wanna know, "How can I pay for that? I wanna retire and I'd like to retire in your community, but I need a little help," and so that's why we have these webinars. So when someone is awarded benefits, Emily, what's the maximum amount that they can expect, and how is that amount determined?

- So there are four monthly maximums. The highest dollar amount is for the married veteran who needs care. So he is moving into Arbor Company, he is married, his spouse can be healthy or not, but he is eligible for $2,431 a month. That is over $29,000 tax free every year. Now, there are three other monthly maximums. The single veteran is eligible for $2,050 a month. And then, a married veteran, if he is healthy, but his spouse needs care can receive $1,610 a month. And finally, many people aren't aware of this, but surviving spouses of veterans can also apply for this benefit. They are eligible for about half of the married veteran amount, but their grand total every month is $1,318 a month. So a surviving spouse who's never touched the VA before can actually utilize this benefit to pay for her care.

- Yeah, and that was the question that I think a lot of people want the answer to. So Emily, I'm sure you get a lot of people who come to you who are surviving spouses that don't really understand how this process works. So how can they sort of get the ball rolling to get that money?

- So the first thing they're gonna need to do is understand about the four criteria, and it's actually the four criteria for both veterans, married or single and spouses. Everybody has to meet the same criteria, and you have to meet all four at the same time to get these dollars. So the VA's going to look at your military service or your spouse's military service. They are requiring one day of active duty during a wartime period. Then, they're gonna look at your care needs. The VA wants to know on a three page medical form does the veteran or the spouse, or maybe both of them, need help with activities of daily living, which is what Arbor Company can help you with, or possibly a memory issue like dementia or Alzheimer's. Then, they're gonna look at your monthly income, and your monthly out of pocket care costs. Finally, they're going to look at your family net worth. And so to get started, I think to go back to your question, you need help evaluating whether you meet all four of these criteria, and if this is a financial funding option to pay for your senior living, and that's what we can help you with.

- Yeah, and Emily, during your webinars, you get a lot of questions from people who did serve time, but it's very specific. So what are we looking at in terms of that part of the eligibility? How does someone become eligible? What years are we talking here?

- So you need one day of active duty during World War II, Korea, or Vietnam, and I have to tell you, I don't have them memorized off the top of my head. I'm usually pretty good about it. But you can check them out. They are detailed on the homepage of our website. The website address is aidandattendance.com, aidandattendance.com. So if you wanna just jump on that after this short video, you can see the exact beginning and end of those three war time periods. You need one active duty day during the war time and a total of 90 active duty days, but that means 89 could be during peace time as long as you have one during war time.

- Gotcha, okay. It is specific, aidandattendance. Aid, and then the word and. And is spelled out, correct, Emily?

- We actually own both, so if you like just N you can have that too. But most people write aidandattendance.com. That's the name of the benefit. We're very fortunate to also own that web address.

- Yes, perfect, very smart. So now we come to misconceptions that people have as it relates to VA benefits. What do you hear from people who call you for help?

- So I think the biggest misconception, I gave this question some thought before we started, and I think the biggest misconception is income. People think that if they have high income, they're not eligible for this benefit. That's not how it works. The VA looks at whatever income level you have, be it 1500, 2500, 5000, 10,000. As long as you are spending all of your income on your care, your senior living community, the VA recognizes that your income is actually 0 because you've spent it all on your care. So don't hesitate to move into that community. If you have $5,000 coming in and $5,000 going out, the VA determines your income is 0, and 0 will help you get one of those four full benefits that we talked about previously.

- Gotcha. Gotcha. Now, we usually reserve a spot for you right around Veteran's Day for a full blown webinar where our viewers can ask you questions and interact with you. But I think this information, and I know you believe it as well, and it is true, it is pertinent year round. So if someone has additional questions for you, Emily, how can they reach out to you?

- So you can either go to aidandattendance.com, or I'm gonna suggest you give Elderlife Financial a call. Our financial concierges are available to pick up the phone and immediately go through those four eligibility criteria with you. And so I'm gonna give you the number. I'm sure it'll be also posted. It's 888-228-4500. And I'm gonna say that one more time. So it's 888-228-4500. Or you can go to aidandattendance.com. If you're more comfortable using the computer, you can absolutely do that. If you call us, we will take you through about a 5 or 10 minute questionnaire to see if you meet all four criteria and are ready to start your VA application.

- Yeah, and that's really how to get the ball rolling. And it is just so great that there is a resource out there like you to help people get this money that they are entitled to to help with their retirement. Emily Schwarz, we love having you on, please come back.

- My pleasure. Anytime you ask me.

- Thank you. Now, if you as our viewer enjoyed watching this video with Emily, you wanna head over to the website www.seniorlivinglive.com. You can find many videos just like this one all about senior living. They're all free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We thank you so much for being with us today. Have a great day, everybody.

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