VA Aid & Attendance: An Overview

It is a challenge to keep up with US Military benefits as they are always changing, and many veterans miss out on what can be life-changing aid. Many wartime veterans receive a disability pension due to injury. But did you know that wartime veterans age 65 or more may qualify for a VA Pension without being disabled? The Veteran’s Administration qualifications for this type of VA Pension include:

  • Your military service discharge is deemed anything other than dishonorable conditions,
  • Your service was 90 or more active duty days with at minimum one day of service during a period of wartime.
  • You are age 65 years or older,
  • Your countable family income is below a threshold set every year by law.

2020 Family Income Limits (Effective December 1, 2019)

If you are a… Your yearly income must be less than…*
Veteran with no dependents$13,752*
Veteran with a spouse or a child$18,008**
Housebound veteran with no dependents$16,805
Housebound veteran with one dependent$21,063
Veteran who needs aid and attendance and has no dependents$22,939
Veteran who needs aid and attendance (A/A) and has one dependent$27,195
Two veterans married to each other$18,008
Add for each additional child to any category above$2,351
*Some income is not counted toward the yearly limit (for example, welfare benefits, some wages earned by dependent children, and Supplemental Security Income. It is also important to note that your medical-related expenses are considered when determining your yearly family income. *To be deducted, medical expenses must exceed $687 ** To be deducted, medical expenses must exceed $900

The financial information chart above, published by military.com, is commensurate with the numbers posted on the Veteran’s Administration website. Be aware; there is a look-back period that will determine if you have transferred assets in the three years previous to filing your claim. There would be a penalty period rate of $2,266 if you did move assets for less than fair market value during this period.

The VA will pay a qualified veteran the difference between personal countable family income and the yearly income limit category into which they fall. Payments are made in 12 equal installments per month and rounded down to the nearest dollar. As an example, a single veteran with a $5,000 annual income qualifies for an annual limit of $13,752. Subtracting that veteran’s income from the income limit yields an annual pension rate of $8,752, which translates into a VA monthly pension check of $729.33 or $729.00 rounded down to the nearest dollar value.

The VA website recognizes the following wartime periods that determine if your service was during an eligible wartime period:

  • World War II (December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946)
  • Korean conflict (June 27, 1950, to January 31, 1955)
  • Vietnam War era (February 28, 1961, to May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period. August 5, 1964, to May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served outside the Republic of Vietnam.)
  • Gulf War (August 2, 1990, through a future date to be set by law or presidential proclamation)

In addition to VA pension, wartime Veterans may also qualify for an additional allowance called Aid and Attendance. To qualify medically for VA Aid and Attendance, one of the following must be true:

  • Another person is required for you to perform daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and feeding, or
  • You spend a large portion, or all of your day in bed due to illness, or
  • Due to a loss of mental or physical abilities related to a disability you are a patient in a nursing home, or
  • Your eyesight is severely limited (wearing glasses or contacts your eyesight is 5/200 or less in both eyes or your concentric contraction visual field is 5 degrees or less)

There are similar benefits available to surviving spouses of wartime Veterans. If you are a wartime veteran or the surviving spouse of a wartime Veteran, we can help you determine whether you could qualify for pension benefits.

While eligible veterans or surviving spouses can apply for benefits on their own through the www.va.gov  website, it is advisable to seek the advice of counsel before applying. There may be planning options available to avoid a penalty period and speed up the qualification process. If you would like to explore whether you might qualify for VA pension benefits, please give us a call.

How Veterans Benefits Can Help Pay for Senior Care

If you are 65 or older and served in the military during wartime or are the spouse of a wartime veteran, you might qualify for veterans’ benefits, like Aid & Attendance, a pension and housebound care. More than 30 percent of seniors might be eligible for these valuable programs from the Veterans Administration (VA), yet very few apply for these benefits. You earned the right to this assistance, by serving our country. It can improve your quality of life, if you learn how veterans benefits can help pay for senior care.

Aid & Attendance

If you need assistance from another person and you qualify for a VA pension, you might be able to get an extra monthly payment above the amount of your VA pension. You do not have to be already getting a VA pension to qualify for Aid & Attendance.

You will have to apply for both programs to get Aid & Attendance. Because the factors to qualify for the two programs, a VA pension and Aid & Attendance, are different, it is possible to get Aid & Attendance and not be eligible for a VA pension.

Other terms for Aid & Assistance are:

  • Veterans eldercare benefit
  • VA assisted living benefit
  • Improved pension

The maximum that a person who qualifies for both a VA pension and Aid & Attendance can receive is $26,766 a year (as of November 2019) for a qualifying veteran with a spouse or one dependent. If two qualifying veterans are married to each other, they can collect up to $35,813 a year. These numbers can change every year.

VA Pension

You should not delay in applying for a VA pension. It takes about nine months, on the average, to go through the application process and get approval of your VA pension request. Once approved, you can get retroactive benefits to the time you applied. Providing all of the required documents and completing the paperwork at the outset, can get your benefits started much more quickly.

In general, the requirements for a VA pension include having served in the U.S. military for at least 90 days of active duty. At least one of those days must have been during an active time of war. You must also meet at least one of these factors:

  • You are a patient in a nursing home.
  • You are totally and permanently disabled.
  • You receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
  • You receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • You are 65 or older with little or no income.

The dates of wartime include World War II (December 7, 1941 through December 31, 1946); the Korean Conflict (June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955); the Vietnam War (August 5, 1964 through May 7, 1975 – or beginning as early as February 28, 1961 for personnel who served in Vietnam itself); and the Gulf War (August 2, 1990 to a future date).

Housebound Benefits

If you qualify for the basic VA pension, you might also be eligible for housebound benefits. You must be confined to your immediate premises, as the result of a permanent disability. For purposes of this program, “housebound” means you only leave the house to go to doctor appointments and necessary medical treatments or you need someone’s help whenever you leave home. If you qualify for both housebound benefits and Aid & Assistance, you cannot collect both, but you will receive the higher benefit.

Contact a VA accredited attorney for help in determining or planning for eligibility, as well as applying for Aid & Attendance.  Fisher Law LLC attorneys are VA accredited.

 

References:

A Place for Mom. “Guide to VA Benefits & Long-Term Care.” (accessed November 21, 2019) http://web28.streamhoster.com/apfmdev/apfm_ebook_veterans-guide_final.pdf