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Does the VA Cover Nursing Home Costs?

Written by Chloe Clark
 about the author
4 minute readLast updated April 19, 2023
Reviewed by Letha Sgritta McDowellLetha Sgritta McDowell is an attorney practicing in both Virginia and North Carolina. She is a fellow of the American College of Trusts and Estates Council, a certified elder law attorney, and a past president of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

Whether your senior loved one suddenly needs additional medical services or help with activities of daily living (ADLs), changes like these can bring up a lot of questions about their future care. If they are a veteran (or the spouse of a veteran), some of their care costs may be covered by the VA. Understanding the type of care a loved one needs and the VA benefits they may qualify for is crucial to long-term care planning.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) does cover some aspects of care in a nursing home. The amount of coverage depends on meeting eligibility requirements and the type of nursing home facility where care is provided.
  2. Surviving spouses of veterans may be eligible for some VA benefits. This includes a pension for surviving spouses and the Aid and Attendance benefit.
  3. There are multiple types of senior care. If a nursing home level of care is not yet needed, it is still important for seniors and their families to plan ahead for future needs.
  4. Talking to a Senior Care Advisor may be helpful. They can offer help navigating the complexities of senior care types and payment options.

Does the VA pay for nursing home care?

Yes, if your loved one is enrolled in VA health care benefits and demonstrates a clinical need for services, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may cover most, if not all, of the costs of a VA-run or VA-approved nursing home. However, it is critical to remember that there are limited beds in VA facilities, and many Americans do not live in close proximity to a VA-sponsored nursing home.
Some veterans and their surviving spouses may qualify for VA pension benefits or disability benefits that can help cover nursing home costs. However, it’s likely that other means of payment will also be needed, such as savings or long-term care insurance.

The costs of nursing home care

Nursing homes are typically for seniors or those who are disabled and need more advanced care, such as daily skilled nursing care or assistance with most or all activities of daily living (ADLs). Nursing homes provide round-the-clock care and supervision. Because of this, they are one of the more expensive senior care options out there.

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According to the most recent Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the 2021 median monthly cost of a private room in a nursing home was $9,034.[01]

What are the eligibility requirements for VA nursing home coverage?

Generally, eligibility for VA coverage of nursing home care is based on the following factors:
  • Enrollment in VA health benefits
  • Clinical need (as determined by a doctor)
  • Setting availability
  • Service-connected status
  • Disability rating
  • Income

Does the VA pay for nursing home care for a spouse?

No. Spouses may qualify for health coverage under the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) or TRICARE, but neither of these programs covers long-term care services like nursing home care. Some state veterans homes may admit non-veteran spouses (admission requirements vary), but the VA will not pay for their care.[02]
Surviving spouses may be eligible for VA pension benefits, which can then be used to help pay for nursing home care. However, the amount provided will rarely cover the entire cost of care. In addition to having a spouse who met the requirements for veteran eligibility, a surviving spouse’s income and net worth cannot exceed set amounts in order to qualify for a VA pension.[03]

What is a VA nursing home?

Veterans may be eligible to receive covered nursing home care in three different settings:
  • VA Community Living Centers, which are also known as VA nursing homes
  • VA Community Nursing Homes, which are private facilities that the VA contracts with to care for veterans
  • State Veterans Homes, which are owned, operated, and managed by state governments and set their own admission criteria
These facilities can provide:
  • 24/7 medical care and supervision
  • Assistance with daily activities
  • Pain management
  • Physical therapy [04]
The VA will cover some of these services through their standard health plan. However, there may still be a copay and some services may not be eligible, so it’s best to discuss options and costs with your loved one’s VA social worker.[05]

Talk with a Senior Care Advisor

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How to apply for benefits

Applying for VA health care benefits is the first step toward getting VA-covered long-term care services. If your loved one is already enrolled, they’ll need to work with their VA care team and social worker to determine the type of care they need, their options for receiving this care, and estimated costs (if any).
VA benefits and eligibility can be hard to navigate. If you and your loved one need assistance weighing options, gathering documents, and applying for benefits, consider working with an accredited Veterans Service Organization (VSO) representative. This help is invaluable when applying for more complex benefits like the VA pension program.
The most well-known VSOs include:
  • The American Legion
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
  • Disabled American Veterans (DAV)
  • Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA)
  • American Veterans (AMVETS)
  • Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA)

Next steps for finding senior care

Finding care for a senior loved one can be a stressful and complicated process. If future care needs are expected, it can help to begin looking early and discussing options with your loved one. Talking to a financial advisor can be beneficial for understanding the scope of your loved one’s financial situation, as well as for helping to plan ahead.
You are never alone in this process. If you need assistance determining which senior living option is right for your loved one, our Senior Care Advisors can help.


  1. Genworth. (2022, June 2). Cost of Care Survey.

  2. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2023, February 15). Geriatrics and extended care: State veterans homes.

  3. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, November 29). 2023 VA Survivor’s pension benefit rates.

  4. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2023, February 15). Geriatrics and extended care: Community nursing homes.

  5. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, October 14). Geriatrics and extended care: VA long term care services.

Meet the Author
Chloe Clark

Chloe Clark is a copywriter for OurParents. She has an MFA in Creative Writing, with a background in education and publishing. She has over a decade’s experience in writing for print publications and websites.

Edited byKristin Carroll
Reviewed byLetha Sgritta McDowell

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