What Are Aid and Attendance Benefits
Aid and Attendance is a benefit paid by Veterans Affairs (VA) to veterans, veteran spouses or surviving spouses. It is paid in addition to a veteran’s basic pension. Aid and Attendance is for applicants who need financial help for in home care, to pay for an assisted living facility or a nursing home. It is a non-service connected disability benefit, meaning the disability does not have to be a result of service. Aid and Attendance benefits are paid to those applicants who:
- Meet service requirements
- Meet certain disability requirements
- Meet income and asset limitations
What are the Service Requirements for Aid and Attendance?
A veteran or the veteran’s surviving spouse may be eligible if the veteran:
- Was discharged from a branch of the United States Armed Forces under conditions that were not dishonorable AND served at least one day (did not have to be served in combat) during the following wartime periods and had 90 days of continuous military service:
- World War I: April 6, 1917, through November 11, 1918
- World War II: December 7, 1941, through December 31, 1946
- Korean War: June 27, 1950, through January 31, 1955
- Vietnam War: August 5, 1964 (February 28, 1961, for veterans who served “in country” before August 5, 1964), through May 7, 1975
- Persian Gulf War: August 2, 1990, through a date to be set by Presidential Proclamation or Law.
If the veteran entered active duty after September 7, 1980, generally he/she must have served at least 24 months of the full period for which called or ordered to active duty (there are no exceptions to this rule).
What are the Disability Requirements for Aid and Attendance?
Veterans, spouses of veterans or surviving spouses can be eligible for Aid and Attendance benefits if they meet the following disability requirements:
The aid of another person is needed in order to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, toileting, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting himself/herself from the hazards of his/her daily environment; or
- The claimant is bedridden, in that his/her disability or disabilities require that he/she remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment; or
- The claimant is in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity; or
- The claimant is blind, or so nearly blind as to have corrected visual acuity of 5/200 or less, in both eyes, and/or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.
What are the Income Requirements for Aid and Attendance?
The claimant’s countable family income must be below a yearly limit set by law. Countable Income means income received by the claimant and his or her dependents. It includes earnings, disability and retirement payments, interest and dividends, and net income from farming or business. A claimant must report all income, but the VA will exclude any income that the law allows. Public assistance, like SSI, is not counted as part of countable income. The annual income limits for the Aid and Attendance program are higher than those set for the basic pension. The maximum Aid and Attendance benefit that can be paid monthly to a veteran or their spouse (subject to yearly changes) are listed below; but the veteran or their spouse must have countable income of $0 to receive the maximum benefit.
- Maximum amount to veteran – $1,703
- Maximum amount to spouse – $1,094
- Maximum amount for couple – $2,019
Countable income may be reduce by using part or all of the current income to help pay for in-home care, assisted living care, board and care and nursing home care as it applies. Please contact our office or a local VA office to discuss how to properly reduce your countable income, in order to apply for the Aid and Attendance benefit.
What are the Asset Requirements for Aid and Attendance?
Net Worth (the value of your assets) also affects eligibility. VA pensions are a need based benefit, and a large net worth might affect your eligibility. All personal goods are exempt from the net worth. These goods include the home you live in, a vehicle used for the care of the claimant, and household goods and personal effects such as clothes, jewelry and furniture. Unfortunately, there is no asset limit set by law, and the determination of eligibility can be made at the discretion of a VA caseworker. As a general rule, the local VA officer I normally work with indicates that a veteran and/or his spouse can have about $20,000(although the actual amount may vary from case to case) and still qualify for said benefit. Any amount that exceeds this figure must be spent or otherwise protected before you apply for the benefit (please contact our office to discuss how to properly protect your assets if you desire to do so).
How do You Apply for Veterans Affairs Benefits?
Applying for VA pension is often complicated and may take some time. It is a good idea to keep copies of all un-reimbursed medical bills for at least twelve months. The average wait for approval is six months. However, the benefits are retroactive to the date of application.
There are several ways you can apply for non-service connected pensions:
1. You can contact our office to assist you in this matter, especially if you need to protect assets before applying for the VA benefit. PLEASE REMEMBER, if you need to protect assets in order to qualify for theVA benefit, you must do so in a manner that is allowed by the VA and by Medi-Cal (in the future), if you need to apply for long-term care benefits at a later date; because the asset protection rules to become eligible for the VA benefit are vastly different than what Medi-Cal will allow you to do and the rules for each benefit changes from year to year.
2. You can contact your LOCAL VA office.
3. You can apply online at: http://www.placer.ca.gov/Departments/Veteran.aspx ,or
4. The claimant may also contact a local Veterans Service Officer (VSO) from a veteran’s service organization in their county.