What is Veteran Aid and Attendance?
The Improved Pension Benefit, often referred to as Aid and Attendance is a benefit paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to wartime veterans, or their spouses, who require the regular attendance of another person to assist in their activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, dressing & undressing, medication, or taking care of the needs of nature. It is a “need-based” benefit; that is, it is only available to those veterans and/or their spouses with limited means.
Aid and Attendance can be used to pay for in-home care for veterans, even if it is done by family members. It can also be applied to offset the expense of residing in an assisted living facility or nursing home.
The process in obtaining the benefit is quite cumbersome and should be explored only if it appears that the need for care will be long term.
Do I Qualify For Aid and Attendance?
To qualify for this benefit, you must meet some basic criteria as well as some asset and income limits.
There are a couple of qualification levels. The first is more difficult to satisfy because it is dependent on factors which are not subject to change. You must meet all of the criteria. Essentially, there are no steps you can take that will help you qualify if you don't meet these requirements.
The first level of qualification is:
- You must have served 90 consecutive days on active military duty.
- You must have received a better than dishonorable discharge.
- You must have served at least 1 day of active duty during a wartime period
- Surviving spouses must not have divorced the Veteran or remarried after the Veteran's death.
- You must be 65 years of age or older or be completely disabled as defined by the Social Security Administration. There is no age requirement for surviving spouses
- You or your spouse must need assistance with two (2) of your activities of daily living
The second level is different.
It is possible to make changes to your existing income and asset structure that would allow you or your spouse to meet the requirements, such as the creation of a trust, legally documenting care, such as a Caregiver Agreement, providing expenses and protecting the equity in your home.
Your household can't have more than the permitted countable assets. Total countable assets can vary. We can assist by helping to position your assets in a manner that can make qualification more achievable. The monthly household earnings, minus recurring monthly medical expenses, are considered Income for VA Purposes. This amount needs to be less than the maximum pension total available to you.
Many people do not correctly document the care they need or receive on a month-to-month basis. This is essential when your care is provided by family members, that an accredited lawyer can document it properly to aid in income qualification. Having been accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs, I work with a group of professionals to secure this benefit for veterans and spouses of deceased veterans.