Q: I am trying to help my 91 year old friend who is getting too frail to live alone but can’t afford assisted living. She was married for about 26 yrs to a WWII vet until his death.
After 3 or 4 years of widowhood she married a man who never served in the military. That unfortunate marriage ended in divorce about 13 years later.
She owns a small 2 bedroom home in San Antonio but doesn’t have the money or energy to fix it up for sale. It’s worth about $90 – 100K before realtor fees, so even if she could sell it, that wouldn’t t cover many months at an assisted living. She has no children, only one nephew.
I’d like to get her on a veteran’s benefit like my dad is on. I was told the fact she remarried disqualifies her. Is that true?
A: The person who told you the fact that your friend remarried would require disqualify her from veteran’s benefit is correct. The VA’s website explains:
“The Survivors Pension benefit, which may also be referred to as Death Pension, is a tax-free monetary benefit payable to a low-income, un-remarried surviving spouse and/or unmarried child(ren) of a deceased Veteran with wartime service.”
Your friend should explore other kinds of assistance. She can identify state and federal benefits she qualifies for at www.benefitscheckup.org. Depending on your state, Medicaid may also help.
If your friend is in a state where Medicaid can pay for assisted living, she could sell her house ad use its proceeds to pay privately for assisted living, and then use Medicaid to pay for care when her private funds run out. Of course, if she did do this, she would need to make sure to move to a community that’s able to accept Medicaid and that could promise to her in writing that they would allow her to switch to Medicaid when her private funds runs out.
Q: After a long search, with my mom turning down lots of good options, she thinks she’s found the right assisted living community. I can’t put my finger on it, but something about the place gives me the heebie-jeebies. How can I check the history this community to put my mind at ease?
A: Some states put inspections reports and community histories online, but unfortunately not all do. And in the states where this information is accessible online, it’s often not in a user-friendly format. That said, in every state there is one person whose job it is to provide this information to the public: the local long-term care ombudsman. The long-term care ombudsman assists the public with information about local facilities and their backgrounds in addition to many other duties related to monitoring the safety and best interest of seniors in the areas that they serve. The ombudsman works at the local Area Agency on Aging. Your local office can be found by entering a town or zip code at eldercare.gov.
Please feel free to email us your questions or leave them in the comments section below.