VETERANS AFFAIRS AID AND ATTENDANCE BENEFITS

WHAT ARE AID AND ATTENDANCE BENEFITS?

Aid and Attendance is a monetary benefit paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to veterans, or surviving spouses. The benefit may not be paid without eligibility to a VA basic pension. Aid and Attendance is an additional amount for applicants who need require the aid and attendance of another person, or are housebound.

Looking for in-home care?

It is a non–service connected disability benefit, meaning the disability is not a result of military service. Aid and Attendance benefits are paid to those applicants who:

  • Are eligible for a VA pension
  • Meet military service requirements
  • Meet certain disability requirements
  • Meet income and asset limitations

WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR VETERANS AFFAIRS BASIC PENSION AND AID AND ATTENDANCE?

A pension is a benefit that the VA pays to wartime veterans who have limited or no income and who are at least 65 years old or, if under 65, are permanently or completely disabled. There are also “Death Pensions,” which are needs based for a surviving spouse of a deceased wartime veteran who:

  • Was married to the veteran at the time of his/her death
  • Was married for at least one year
  • Has not remarried unless the remarriage began on or after 1/1/1971 and ended before 11/1/1990

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 serve in combat) during the following wartime periods and had 90 days of continuous active duty:
    • 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 or the full period for which called or ordered to active duty (there are exceptions to this rule).

WHAT ARE THE DISABILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR AID AND ATTENDANCE?

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, or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.

WHAT ARE THE INCOME REQUIREMENTS FOR AID AND ATTENDANCE?

The VA recently announced a net worth limit of $123,600 effective October 18, 2018. Not worth includes both income and asset limits for the Aid and Attendance Pension. Income means all income received by the claimant and his or her spouse. It includes earnings, disability and retirement payments, interest and dividends, and net income from farming or business. A claimant must report all income.

The following chart includes the Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR) for the Pension with Aid and Attendance.

Single Veteran Up to $21,962
($1,830 per month)
Veteran with Spouse/
Dependent
Up to $26,036
($2,169 per month)
Two Veterans Married to
Each Other
Up to $34,837
($2,902 per month)
Surviving Spouse Up to $14,113
($1,176 per month)

UNREIMBURSED MEDICAL EXPENSES

A portion of unreimbursed medical expenses paid by claimants may reduce the countable income.

Unreimbursed medical expenses include: cost of a long term care institution or assisted living, health related insurance premiums (including Medicare premiums), diabetic supplies, private caregivers, incontinence supplies, medical alert devices, prescriptions and dialysis not covered by any other health plan. Only the portion of the unreimbursed medical expenses that exceed 5% of the basic pension MAPR may be deducted (see above chart for this amount).

Example A: Single Veteran/No Spouse or Dependents — Income Less Than MAPR

  • Jim is disabled and needs help paying for care. His yearly income is $40,000 and he has $35,000 unreimbursed medical expenses this year.
      • $13,176 basic pension MAPR x 0.05 = $659
      • $35,000 medical expenses – $659 = $39,391 medical deduction
      • $40,000 Jim’s income – $34,391= $5,659 Countable Income
    • The countable income is subtracted from the maximum annual Aid and Attendance Rate to determine the benefit amount.
      • $21,960 (Aid and Attendance Rate)– $5,659 (countable income)= $16,301
    • Jim’s Aid and Attendance benefit would be $16,301 or $1,358/monthly

Example B: Married Veterans — Income Below MAPR — Need Aid and Attendance

    • Both Carlos and Patricia live in a senior apartment and need a caregiver 24 hours a day to remain safely in their house. SSI is their only monthly income.  Since SSI is not counted, their countable income for VA purposes is $0. They are eligible for $2,902 per month ($34,874 annually), the maximum benefit to help pay for their care.

WHAT ARE THE ASSET REQUIREMENTS FOR AID AND ATTENDANCE?

Beginning October 18, 2018, the VA has set a limit of up to $123,600 for a claimant’s net worth and a three-year “look back” period. If married, this includes the net worth of the couple. Net worth is defined as income and assets. Income and assets. VA pensions are a need–based benefit, and a large net worth might affect your eligibility.

The VA does not count a primary residence or primary vehicle as part of the net worth. Assets include: realestate, land, land rights, vehicles, boats, motor homes, accounts at financial institutions, annuities, and trusts.

The VA will look back at a claimant’s financial history for a period of three years (36 months) form the application date to determine if any asset transfers affect his/her eligibility. A claimant may be disqualified up to a period of five years if asset transfers for less than market value were made. In other words, the VA does not allow an applicant to hide assets or gift their assets to their heirs in order to qualify for the Pension.

HOW DOES AID AND ATTENDANCE AFFECT MEDI-CAL BENEFITS?

In the community:

Medicaid rules vary by state, please research the rules in your state.

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 unreimbursed 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.

You can apply directly to the VA for a VA Pension with Aid and Attendance, however unless you are familiar with VA claim forms, we suggest seeking help with the application.

To apply or contact the VA directly:

  1. You can contact the VA at 1–800–827–1000.
  2. You can apply online at: https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/
  3. Veteran’s applying for the first time can download the “VA Form 21–526, Veteran’s Application for Compensation and/or Pension” at www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-526-ARE.pdf and send the completed application to the VA regional office that serves your county (listed below). If you have applied for pension, compensation or Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) in the past there may be other applications you can use (i.e. VA Form 21–527).
  4. Surviving spouse’s applying for the first time can download the “VA Form 21–534, Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, Death Pension and Accrued Benefits by Surviving Spouse or Child” at http://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-534-ARE.pdf and send the completed formsto the VA regional office that serves your county. If you have applied for pension, compensation or DIC in the past there may be other applications you can use (i.e. VA Form 21–0518 or 21–0519).

Or

  1. The claimant may also contact a Veterans Service Officer (VSO) from a local veterans service organization – or a state veterans service commission. A VSO is a professional veteran affairs advocate. They play a critical role in advocacy and are often the initial contact in the community for veteran services. A VSO can help fill out the application. To search for the nearest VSO see: https://nvf.org/veteran-service-officers/

WHAT DOCUMENTS ARE NEEDED TO APPLY FOR AID AND ATTENDANCE?

The veteran or surviving spouse will need to gather the following VA Forms (Forms can be found at http://www.va.gov/vaforms/) before applying for benefits:

  1. VA Form 21-22 if a Veteran’s Service Organization or 21-22a if individual is acting as the claimant’s representative
  2. VA Form 21-527EX for a veteran or VA Form 21-534EZ fo a surviving spouse
  3. VA Form 24-0296 – Direct Deposit Enrollment
  4. Medical examination from the claimant’s attending physician VA Form 21-2680 or Nursing Home Statement, VA Form 21-0779
  5. Medical Expenses Report, VA Form 21P-8416

IN ADDITION TO THE VA FORMS, AN APPLICANT WILL NEED TO GATHER THE FOLLOWING DOCUMENTS:

Marriage certificate and death certificate (surviving spouses only)

Asset information (bank account statements, etc.)

Verification of Income (social security award letter, and statements from pensions, IRAs, annuities, etc.)

Proof of medical premiums (insurance statements, medication or medical bills that are not reimbursed by Medi-Cal or Medicare)

Voided check for Aid and Attendance direct deposit

Military discharge or separation documents (DD 214)

WHEN AID AND ATTENDANCE FOUNDS WILL BE USED PRIMARILY FOR IN-HOME CARE OR ADULT DAY CARE

You may want to contact Veterans Home Care(R), a family owned company that offers their VetAssist Program(R) to veterans and surviving spouses. They will help you determine if you are eligible for the VA’s Aid and Attendance benefit and help you file a claim at no charge. If you qualify fo their VetAssist Program(R), they offer a no-interest loan to so that you can begin home care or adult day care while the VA processes your claim. Call toll fee 888-314-6075 for more information or email: [email protected]

BEST ADVICE FOR FILING A CLAIM

Because filling a VA claim can be as complicated as filing your taxes, you may want to first file VBA-21-0966 Intent to File form. The VA will recognize the date of receipt of the Intent to File form as the retroactive date that our pension begins. After receiving this form, VA will give you the appropriate application to file for the general benefit you select on the Intent to File form. After filing the ITF 21-0966 form, you have one year to complete your application for the VA Pension with Aid and Attendance.