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 – $1,830
- Maximum amount to spouse – $1,176
- Maximum amount for couple – $2,169
- Maximum amount for two vets – $2,903
Countable income may be reduced 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. Due to recent changes in the VA Aid and Attendance program, you CANNOT protect your assets as they would have allowed you to do so in the past. This change became effective last Fall in October 2019. Therefore, I would recommend that you contact your local VA office and have them assist you for FREE, to fill-out the application for benefits for this program.
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. The VA allows you to have $123,600 in combined income and financial assets, however, you can have more assets if you are using ALL of your income to help pay for elder care (see how to reduce countable income above).
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 your LOCAL VA office, or
2. You can contact a local Veterans Service Office (VSO) organization in your county.