What Is the Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit?

”Aid and attendance” is a commonly used term for a little-known veterans’ disability income. The official title of this benefit is “Pension.” The reason for using “aid and attendance” to refer to Pension is that many veterans or their single surviving spouses can become eligible if they have a regular need for the aid and attendance of a caregiver or if they are housebound. Evidence of this need for care must be certified by VA as a “rating.” With a rating, certain veterans or their surviving spouses can now qualify for Pension.

The purpose of this benefit is to provide supplemental income to disabled or older veterans who have a low income or high medical costs. Pension is for war veterans who have disabilities that are not connected to their active-duty service. Pension is primarily intended for very low income veterans, but a special provision in how Pension is calculated can allow veterans or single surviving spouses with high income to also receive the benefit which may be as much as $1, 949 a month. This special provision kicks in for veterans who have ongoing and expensive long term care costs.

Aid and Attendance Pension benefit can pay up to $1,949 a month for qualifying long term care needs such as:

  • Family members who provide home care
  • Professional home care providers to come into your home
  • Assisted Living or Adult Day services
  • Nursing Home long term care
  • Home renovations for disability
  • Prescription drug costs
  • Insurance premiums
  • Diabetic or incontinence supplies
  • Other un-reimbursed medical expenses

If the veteran’s income exceeds the Pension amount, there is usually no award given, however, income can be adjusted for unreimbursed medical expenses, and this allows veterans with household incomes larger than the Pension amount to qualify for a monthly benefit. There is also an asset test to qualify for Pension.

If you have assets and a sizable income, you will most likely need and benefit from the services of a Veterans Benefits Consultant concerning what you need to do before you submit to the VA for an award. It is extremely important that assets that might be gifted or converted to income also meet Medicaid gifting rules in case the veteran or the surviving spouse may have to apply for Medicaid. The consultant can help avoid Medicaid penalties associated with reallocating assets.

Angela N. Manz is a veteran’s benefits consultant who understands the aid and attendance benefit as well as Medicaid rules. Angela N. Manz can be reached at 757-271-6275 or by going to www.manzlawfirm.com

Recent VA ruling regarding Lou Gehrig's disease

On September 23 2008, the Veterans Adminstration made a ruling regarding veterans who died due to Lou Gehrig’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.   Veterans with this disease will now be considered to have a service connected disabiliy.  For veterans who died of this disease, their widows will be eligible for a monthly death benefit due to the veteran’s service-connected death.  For more information, please see the Veterans Administration press release  at the web address below.
http://www.alsa.org/files/cms/News/Archive/2008/VA%20Release.pdf

Veteran's Benefits – Aid and Attendance

Many seniors are unaware that they may be eligible for the VA aid and attendance benefit.  This benefit is available to veterans over the age of 65, who served at least 90 days of active duty, with one day during a period of wartime.   They must have received a better than dishonorable discharge.  If a veteran, or his spouse, has recurring out of pocket medical expenses or needs assistance with daily living tasks (such as meal preparation, dressing, bathing, shopping, taking medications, etc.) he or she should consult an elder law attorney to determine whether they might qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit.
This benefit pays the veteran or spouse a monthly tax-free  pension amount.  A veteran is eligible for up to $1949 per month and a widowed spouse is eligible for up to $1056 per month in tax-free income.
In order to qualify, the veteran or widowed spouse must have recurring medical expenses or require personal assistance.  Medical expenses can include in-home care (including a child who is taking care of a parent either part-time or full-time), assisted living community costs, nursing home costs, prescription drugs, medical equipment, adult day care, insurance premiums, etc.
There are asset and income qualifications as well.  An experienced elder law attorney can assist the veteran or his widowed spouse in creating a plan for veteran’s benefits and determining the best method for preparing the application.  The elder law attorney will also discuss with the family how any application for VA benefits might affect future eligibility for Medicaid or other government benefits. It is imperative that steps be taken to adequately preserve the senior’s assets and to preserve eligibility for any other benefits the senior may require in the future.
Finally, the process of applying to the VA for this benefit can be very lengthy and difficult.  It is best to work with someone knowledgeable who can assist you in preparing your claim so that it is approved as quickly as possible.
The VA also requires that anyone giving advice to veterans about this benefit be accredited through the VA.  Before choosing a professional to assist you, make sure to ask if they are accredited and if they will help your family prepare a Medicaid or other long-term care plan at the time they are preparing the plan for VA benefits.
Angela N. Manz is an elder law attorney licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  She is accredited through Department of Veterans Affairs to assist veterans and their families in the preparation of claims for veterans benefits.
This blog post is not intended to provide legal counsel or to be a substitute for legal counsel. We assume no responsibility for any errors, omissions or any damage resulting from the use of this information.