Veteran’s Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit
This most important benefit is overlooked by many families with Veterans or surviving spouses who need additional funds to help pay for care. Most Veterans who are in need of assistance qualify for this pension if they meet the financial requirements. Aid and Attendance can help pay for care in a nursing home, assisted living facility, adult family home, or at home. With significant changes to the eligibility rules effective October 18, 2018, it is more important than ever that you consult with an experienced attorney before applying for benefits. We can help you determine if you qualify for the Aid and Attendance pension, what you would need to do to qualify, and if you would be better off applying for Medicaid benefits instead.
History of Veterans Benefits
The Veterans Administration was created in 1930 with the consolidation of 3 separate agencies. The Department of Veterans Benefits was established in 1952 by the Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1952 and succeeded in 1989 by the Veterans Benefit Administration. Veterans benefits are governed by federal law with statutes in US Code Title 38 - Veteran's Benefits and annual Congressional funding in the non-discretionary portion of the federal budget tied historically to an annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) Index.
There are two classes of benefits for veterans and their survivors including:
Compensation for service-related disability or death; and
Pension for disability or death that has no relation to active duty military service.
This page will not discuss compensation for service-related disability or death.
Eligibility for the Aid & Attendance Benefit
The VA's Special Pension with Aid and Attendance (A&A) benefit is defined in 38 USC Chapter 15. This Special Pension is available to both Veterans and surviving spouses. Disabilities are defined by statute to include:
Patient in a nursing home for long-term care due to disability,
Person who is bed-ridden and/or significantly disabled and living in a home, family home, adult family home, independent living community, or assisted-living facility requiring the regular aid and attendance of another person to assist in eating, bathing, dressing, undressing or taking care of the needs of nature
Person unemployable as a result of disability, or
Person with blindness (vision limited to a corrected 5/200 visual acuity or less in both eyes).
The Aid and Attendance (A&A) benefit is NOT a benefit for a person needing housekeeping, short-term temporary respite care, or part-time care.
Qualifying Criteria for Aid & Attendance Benefit
Veterans must have served 1 day during a "period of war" and have served no less then a 90 day service.
Veteran must have received an honorable discharge or general discharge.
The surviving spouse is eligible but must still have been married to the veteran when the veteran passed away.
The claimant must qualify medically and have a doctor's order stating a need for "aid and attendance"' of another person on a regular basis.
The claimant must qualify financially with annual income requirements defined in 38 USC §1503 and, as of October 18, 2018, less than $123,600 in combined countable assets and annual income less certain medical expenses. A home, vehicles for family transportation, and other personal property are excluded from countable assets.
As of October 18, 2018, the claimant must not have transferred countable assets within the last three years to reduce your net worth for VA purposes below the $123,600 limit or you may be subject to a penalty period.
A claimant may not qualify if on state assistance (Medicaid or another subsidized program due to your low income).
The application processing time averages 4-6 months, but the A&A benefit is paid retroactively from the date of application. It is important that you meet the financial requirements before you apply. Failure to do this is a prime reason the application is rejected. We can help you make sure you meet these requirements.
Portions of this Aid & Attendance article taken from Avvo's NakedLaw blog appearing on December 9, 2015.