The Veteran’s Administration offers Aid & Attendance as part of an “improved pension” benefit that is largely unknown. This is not a new benefit, and in fact has been an available entitlement for over 50 years. This Improved Pension allows veterans and surviving spouses to receive a monetary benefit when they require the regular attendance of another person to assist in eating, bathing, dressing or other activities of daily living. It also includes individuals who are blind or a patient in a nursing home because of mental or physical incapacity. Assisted care in an assisting living facility also qualifies.
This benefit is not dependent on service-related injuries for compensation or being in combat.
To qualify, a physician needs to verify that the veteran or the surviving spouse requires daily assistance by others with “activities of daily living” or “ADLs” such as dressing, bathing, cooking, eating, transportation, etc. There simply needs to be an adequate medical opinion that the applicant cannot function completely on his or her own.
MAXIMUM PENSION LEVELS AVAILABLE UNDER A&A for 2012:
- Up to $1703 per month for a veteran
- Up to $1094 per month for a surviving spouse of a veteran
- Up to $2019 per month for a couple
- Up to $2631 per month for two married veterans
- You must be a veteran who has served at least 90 days or more on active duty, with at least one day of service during a period of war (see chart of eligibility periods), or the surviving spouse of such a veteran.
- No longer driving or willing to give up driving (we can drive for you as part of our service!)
- Have 2 or more Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) you need assistance with
- Medical documentation provided by a physician that you need assistance with ADLs
- Meet net worth limitations (see below for explanation)
- Meet net income and out-of-pocket medical expense guidelines (see below for explanation)
The documents you need in order to file for the benefit are a marriage license (when applicable), death certificate if surviving spouse is applying, DD-214 (“separation papers” or “discharge papers”) showing honorable discharge (go to http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/ to receive a copy), Social Security Award letter (when applicable) and copy of current bank and financial statement(s).
You will also need net worth information, proof of all monthly income, and proof of insurance premiums, medications, medical bills or any other medical expense (including in-home non-medical care) that are reimbursed by insurance or Medicare.
If you currently receive a VA disability pension, the A&A Pension may not provide any assistance to you since it may be a “dollar for dollar” offset to your current VA benefit. We can assist you in determining if your current pension will be a determining factor.
WAR PERIODS FOR ELIGIBILITY:
- World War I April 16, 1917 - November 11,1918
- World War II Dec 7, 1941 - Dec 31, 1946 Must have served 90 days active duty
- Korean Conflict June27, 1950 - Jan 31, 1955. Must have served 90 days active duty
- Vietnam Era Aug 5, 1964 - May 7, 1975. Feb 28, 1961 for veterans who served “in country” (Vietnam) before Aug 5, 1964.
- Persian Gulf War Aug 2, 1990 - End date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation - must have served active duty for 2 years
NET WORTH LIMITATION:
An individual’s net worth includes the financial worth of investments such as bank account balances, CD’s, Trusts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and annuities. While the general rule is a net worth maximum of $80,000 to qualify for the Pension, the actual amount is a decreasing maximum $$ based on the applicant’s current age and life expectancy. The net worth maximum excludes the applicant’s home and one car.
The VA looks at the value of assets on hand at the time of application. There is no “look back” provision as there is in other entitlement programs. So there is an opportunity to transfer assets and/or place assets in some form of trust prior to filing the application.
NET INCOME and OUT-OF-POCKET MEDICAL EXPENSE GUIDELINES:
The VA will look at monthly gross income from sources such as Social Security, pensions, savings, annuities, and interest income from investments. Out-of-Pocket medical expenses include Medicare Part B and Part D premiums and any supplemental premiums in addition to direct medical expenses. It can also include any expenses for non-medical home services such as those provided by BARBERVoss Home Care.
If the veteran is married, income and expense for both individuals is considered. If the pension is awarded, the pension level will be at the “couple” level even if the spouse is currently driving and does not need assistance with ADLs.