The Aid and Attendance pension provides benefits for veterans and surviving spouses who meet certain financial requirements, which I will go over below.
If eligible, individuals may receive financial benefits to help pay for assistance with the Activities of Daily living, such as dressing, bathing and eating.
Such assistance includes individuals who, because of mental or physical incapacity, require care either in their homes, in assisted living facilities or in nursing homes. This is a federal program available in every state.
A veteran is eligible for up to $1,644 per month, and a surviving spouse is available for up to $1,056 per month, and a veteran with a spouse is eligible for up to $1,949 per month. All benefits are tax free.
This benefit may not be used in conjunction with service-related disability, however, Aid and Attendance is a great supplement to other programs such as Medicaid.
The veteran must satisfy the following requirements…
- Served at least 90 days active duty
- Served at least one day during a qualified war period (see below)
- Has been discharged from service under conditions other than dishonorable
- Have limited household assets and gross income
- Be either 65 years of age or 100% permanently and totally disabled
- A widow of a veteran (if applicable) must have been married to and living with the veteran at the time of the veteran’d death. If
- not living together, separation must be because of medical or military reasons.
The veteran must have served at least one day during one of the following qualifying war periods…
- World War II (December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946)
- Korean War (June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955)
- Vietnam War (August 5, 1964 (February 28, 1961 for those who served “in country” before August 5, 1964) through May 7, 1975
- Gulf War (August 2, 1990 through a date to be determined by Act of Congress)
An applicant must fill out the proper Veterans Application for Pension or Compensation. This application will require a copy of DD-214
or separation papers, a medical evaluation from a physician, current medical issues, net worth limitations and gross income minus out-of-pocket medical expenses.
The claimant must submit the following documents to complete the application (VA forms in parenthesis):
- A completed application requesting Pension with Aid and Attendance (21-526, Parts A, B, C, and D for veteran or 21-534 for surviving spouse)
- Discharge/separation papers (DD-214)
- Birth certificate
- Proof of residency
- Physicians affidavit as to inability to care for one’s self and current diagnosis/status
- Income/asset information (evidence of your Social Security income)
- Proof of medical expenses
- Work history if you are under age 65
- Direct deposit information for benefit check
- A list of doctors and hospitals visited in the last year
- Consent to release information forms so that the VA may request any additional information
- they may determine they require (21-4142)
- Death certificate of veteran (if applicable)
- Proof of marriage (if applicable)
As a general rule, an applicant is allowed to keep approximately $80,000 in assets. An individual’s home, car and other excluded assets are included in the $80,000 figure. There are no transfer penalties similar to many other community benefits for the disabled or elderly. An applicant, therefore, may be over the asset limitation and transfer the excess assets to a spouse, child or other family member in order to be eligible.
A family home or vehicle is not counted when estimating net worth, so long as the individual resides in the community. This may not be the case if the individual resides in an assisted living facility or nursing home and there is no community spouse.
Also, life insurance that does not have a cash surrender value is not countable. All liquid assets or assets that may be liquidated are considered countable. Countable assets include CD’s, annuities, stocks, bonds, savings accounts, checking accounts, IRA’s and Keogh’s. Assets owned solely by one spouse are not countable.
An individual’s net worth can be an ambiguous standard in the application process. It may be best to consult with an expert if you are unsure of how your assets are viewed in the administrative process. The VA workers have the liberty to use their personal judgment in considering an individual’s assets and the claimant’s needs. They calculate how long an applicant’s assets would support their needs before the assets run out.
*lf you do not have these papers you may request them from www.archives.gov. You may file the rest of the application and forward this information when you receive it.
The formula to determine financial eligibility is subtracting the out-of-pocket medical expenses from gross income. All income must be included, such as Social Security, pension, interest, dividends, rental income, and annuity payouts. A spouse’s income and medical expenses are also considered if the individual is married.
The VA will reduce all unreimbursed recurring medical expenses from gross income. Such medical expenses include nursing home costs, assisted living costs, home health services, health insurance premiums, Medicare premiums, and prescription costs.
To be eligible for Aid and Attendance, a single veteran must have countable income of less than $ 18,228 per year, and a veteran with a spouse must have countable income of less than $2,612 per year. A widow must have countable income of less than $11,712 per year. These figures may be increased accordingly if a veteran or their surviving widow has one or more dependents.
It may take anywhere from 4-6 months to actually receive payment from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Payments are made retroactively from the first day of the month after the date the application was filed.
It is important to note that the application must be filed no later than the third week of the month prior to the month you anticipate receiving benefits. For example if you would like to be eligible for benefits on February lst, then you must file the application no later than the week of January 25th.
If the individual filing has any incapacity then it is likely that the Department of Veteran’s Affairs will require that a fiduciary be appointed, as they may declare the individual incompetent to handle their own financial affairs. A power of attorney will not be accepted by the VA. The fiduciary will have to go through an interview process before the VA will release any payments to the fiduciary.
You may apply at your local Veterans office, however, it should be noted that many local offices are fully trained on Aid and Attendance.