VA Homemaker and Home Health Aide CareUpdated: November 2, 2022
The VA Homemaker and Home Health Aide Care is available to all qualifying veterans who are enrolled in VA Health Care. This is a service for veterans who have a “clinical need” for help with basic daily living activities. There are important things veterans and family members should know about this type of VA health care.
Using VA Benefits for Home Health Care
To be considered for the VA Homemaker and Home Health Aide benefit, the veteran must first apply for and be approved to receive VA Standard Medical Benefits. Not all veterans are eligible to receive these benefits, but many are.
Each application is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. In general to qualify for basic VA health care benefits, a veteran must meet one or more of the following criteria as defined by the Department of Veterans Affairs:
- Former Prisoner of War (POW)
- Purple-Heart or Medal-of-Honor recipient
- Has a VA-rated, service-connected disability of 10% or more
- In receipt of a VA Pension
- Discharged from the military because of a disability (not pre-existing), early out or hardship
- Served in a Theater of Operations “for five years post-discharge”
- Served in the Republic of Vietnam from Jan. 9, 1962- May 7, 1975
- Served aboard U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships “associated with military service in Vietnam”
- Served in the Persian Gulf from Aug. 2, 1990, to Nov. 11, 1998
- Stationed or resided at Camp Lejeune for 30 days or more between Aug. 1, 1953-Dec. 31, 1987
- VA-rated as Catastrophically Disabled
- Previous years’ household income is below VA’s National Income or Geographical-Adjusted Thresholds
It is important to remember that the above qualifying criteria is for VA Health Care, not for VA Homemaker and Home Health Aide benefits. The qualifying criteria for those benefits are listed below.
In order to enroll for VA health care benefits, create or modify an account at VA.gov to begin the application process there. This application is for VA health care benefits only, not for specific programs such as the VA Homemaker and Home Health Aide benefit.
Applying for VA Standard Medical Benefits
Veterans who need to first apply for VA Standard Medical Benefits may experience a delay in being accepted into the program depending on circumstances and other factors, assuming they qualify.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, applications that are incomplete or missing information, which includes income or “military information,” will cause the application to move into “pending status” until the final determination can be reached.
The VA may require the veteran to supply additional information. In such cases, the contact will be made by U.S. mail. Veterans should be prepared to make copies of any required documentation and submit either by mail, fax or electronically.
Do not send originals of any documents to the VA as they will not be returned.
VA Homemaker and Home Health Aide Eligibility Requirements
The VA Homemaker and Home Health Aide program is offered to those who have a clinical need for daily care based on how the medical issues affect the veteran’s ability to perform daily self-care activities. The VA explains that the program is only for those in need of skilled care, case management and daily activities including:
- Meal preparation
- Daily medications
This VA program is also offered to veterans who are isolated and for those who have caregivers in need of relief.
Process for Determining Home Health Care Eligibility
Determining eligibility for VA services is a process that involves review of the veteran’s daily needs and a self-assessment. The VA may even interview the veteran’s current caregiver to determine how much of a burden is placed on the care provider.
The veteran applying for these services may have an interview-type session with a doctor involving questions such as the following:
- How much assistance do I need for my activities of daily living?
- What are my caregiver’s needs?
- How much independence and privacy do I want?
- What sort of social interactions are important to me?
- How much can I afford to pay for care each month?
The final question implies a co-pay. Some veterans may be required to agree to a co-payment depending on the nature of the disability, the VA disability rating and other factors.
Not all veterans will have a co-pay. Discuss this possibility with a VA representative to see what may apply in your circumstances.
Cost of VA Homemaker and Health Aide Care
The VA advises potential enrollees for this program that co-pays may be required for services like VA Homemaker and Health Aide Care. The patient may be able to pay for long-term care via Medicare, Medicaid or the VA depending on circumstances.
“Your eligibility for long term care services, provided in any long-term care setting, will be determined based on your need for ongoing treatment, personal care and assistance, as well as the availability of the service in your location.” The VA adds that “other factors,” which include an assessment of financial eligibility, insurance coverage and the ability to pay will play a role in determining what costs, if any, are passed to the veteran.
VA Homemaker and Health Aide Care Is Not an Age-Specific VA Benefit
This VA benefit is not restricted to geriatric care. Any qualifying veteran who meets the eligibility criteria for the program may enroll regardless of age. Additionally, services are not generic. They are tailored to the specific needs of the veteran.
This means that veterans who qualify will not receive identical services as other program participants. A veteran’s initial assessment with a care provider as part of the program application process will play an important role in determining what services are offered via the VA.
Age is not a qualifying factor. You may be any age and be approved for VA Homemaker and Health Aide Care if your condition warrants the services. Many geriatric veterans require such services. Additionally disabled veterans of any age may need such assistance.
The Evaluation Process for VA Homemaker and Health Aide Care Involves Both The Caregiver and the Veteran
There are self-assessment tools for both caregivers and veterans. The caregiver tool is a way to measure the current stress levels associated with providing care to the veteran. The veteran’s self-assessment is to determine the level of need for daily care.
These assessments require veterans and care providers to work with a VA social worker and a physician, as required.
The inclusion of both patient and care provider in this application process is part of the VA Shared Decision Making approach to such care. The VA says this approach is important for addressing the most pressing needs for all involved.
The Clinical Need for These Services Is an Important Factor
Remember, this VA benefit is offered based on the clinical need for such care. Those who do not currently qualify, but are concerned that they may need to apply in the future, should discuss their situation with a VA representative. They will learn what steps to take in preparation for future needs.
As mentioned above, being enrolled in the VA health care system is the first step. Those who are not currently enrolled should apply to determine basic eligibility for current or future VA programs administered under the VA Standard Medical Benefits package.
VA Homemaker and Health Aide Care Lasts As Long As There Is A Need for The Services
The Department of Veterans Affairs official website states clearly that the benefits received under this program last as long as the veteran has a need for them. “You can continue to receive an aide’s services for as long as you need extra help with your daily activities,” according to VA.gov. They also list some, but not all, of the activities that may be included with such care:
- Getting dressed
- Bathing and other personal care
- Shopping and cooking
- Doing laundry
- Paying bills/financial management
- Taking medication
- Getting to appointments
- Communication by phone
The frequency of this care will vary depending on need. Some patients need several visits per week, while others may require help only occasionally. The self-assessment and other application procedures will help veterans determine eligibility and what support they require if this is not known at the application time.
One of the most important things to remember about this VA benefit is that it may be used in conjunction with other benefits. Some of these include adult day care, palliative care, respite care, hospice services and home-based primary care.
Not all care is available to all veterans, but multiple services may be available depending on the condition of the veteran’s medical issues. You can learn more about these services and contact a VA social worker to sign up at the VA official website for Home and Community-based services.
Not all of these VA programs have age-related qualifications, but rules for each individual program will vary.