All About: Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit
Published October 11, 2009 by Jody Guerrieri, RN. in VA Benefits, Ways to Pay for Home Care
I frequently get questions about home care benefits for Veterans, particularly on the Aids and Attendance Pension Benefit. If you are a Veteran or a surviving spouse of a veteran you could have benefits for home care assistance that you are unaware of. Here is some valuable information on the Aids and Attendance Pension Benefit that could be a great financial help to you.
Watch this video on the Aids and Attendance Pension Benefit and then get the facts below.
Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit
The Aid & Attendance level of the pension benefit is very substantial for those who qualify. In 2009, the maximum annual benefit is:
- Surviving Spouse of a Veteran: $12,681
- Veteran with no Spouse or dependent children: $19,736
- A married Veteran where the Veteran requires care: $23,396
The benefit is particularly helpful to those who qualify when you consider that in order to qualify, the claimant must:
- Demonstrate a financial need
- Show that he or she is housebound or in the regular need of care by a caregiver. Such care can be very expensive.
By qualifying for the Aid & Attendance pension benefit, the claimant may be able to:
- Afford a caregiver who can come into the claimant’s home to provide help with the activities of daily living, (i.e, bathing, meal preparation, dressing, and toileting)
- Afford the comforts of receiving care in an assisted living community or a skilled nursing home
The ultimate purpose of the Aid & Attendance pension benefit is to provide veterans or their surviving spouses with additional resources so that they can afford care in their time of need.
Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit Eligibility
As part of the Veterans Administration’s Pension program, the VA offers additional income for veterans and their surviving spouses who are eligible for the VA’s base pension, but who also either demonstrate a regular need for the aid and attendance of a caregiver or are what the VA refers to as housebound.
Basic Criteria for Pension Benefit Eligibility:
The VA considers offering Pension benefits to a Veteran or their surviving spouse if:
- The veteran received discharge from service under any condition other than dishonorable, AND
- The veteran served at least 90 days of active military service, one (1) day of which was during a war-time period:
- World War II: December 7, 1941 through December 31, 1946 inclusive. If the Veteran was in service on December 31, 1946, but had not yet served 90 days, then continued service lasting until July 26, 1947 will be considered World War II service.
- Korean conflict: June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955 inclusive
- Vietnam era: The period beginning on February 28, 1961 and ending on May 7, 1975 inclusive, for all Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period. The period beginning on August 5, 1964 and ending on May 7, 1975 inclusive, in all other cases.
- The claimant is age 65 or older, OR, is permanently and totally-disabled, AND
- The claimant’s total countable family income is below an annual limit set by law (most medical or care expenses including Nursing Home, Assisted Living and Home Care will reduce net countable income if you qualify medically), AND
- The VA determines that the claimant’s household net worth is not excessive (there is no specific dollar amount designated as excessive, rather, excessive net worth is a determined on a case-by-case basis with a number of considerations taken into account, and it should be noted that some assets are exempt from the net worth determination)
Basic Criteria for Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit Eligibility
Aid & Attendance is a monthly benefit paid in addition to monthly Pension. A veteran or their surviving spouse may be eligible for Aid & Attendance when the veteran or surviving spouse:
- Requires the ongoing aid of another person in order to perform basic personal functions required in everyday living, (Activities of Daily Living or ADLs) such as bathing, eating, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting himself/herself from the hazards of his/her daily environment, OR
- Is bedridden, in that his/her disability or disabilities requires he/she remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment, OR
- Is a patient in a long-term care facility due to cognitive or physical incapacity, OR
- 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 five degrees or less.
How to Apply for the Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit
The application process for the VA’s Aid and Attendance Pension benefit is quite extensive, but that is to be expected considering the assistance that is being offered through this program. You will need to gather up quite a few documents for the application process to be a success.
Following is a list of forms and papers you will need:
- Military separation papers form DD-214. The VA is now requiring a certified copy or an original in most cases. We recommend that you order a copy from the National Archives. To request a copy visit www.archives.gov/veterans. You can also request a copy using Standard Form 180. It is typical for them to tell you that many records were lost in the St Louis fire of 1973. However, in most cases they will eventually be able to provide you with a valid certificate of service.
- Married veterans and surviving spouses will need to provide a copy of your marriage certificate
- Surviving spouses will need to provide a copy of the veteran’s death certificate
- A copy of your current Social Security Award letter. This shows the monthly amount of your Social Security benefit. Additionally, if you get a monthly statement from a private pension program, it is best to provide it as well, although many claims get approved without these documents.
- If you are a court-appointed guardian of the applicant, you will need to provide a copy of the court order
- A copy of your monthly health insurance bill as well as your home care, assisted living, or nursing home bill if paid out-of-pocket and not reimbursed by a long term care insurance policy or Medicaid
- A physician statement that provides all information about your diagnosis, your current medical status, the prognosis, travel ability, and your ability to care for yourself and your need for assistance with activities of daily living
- You will need to provide a voided check for direct deposit of the monthly payment. The benefit is paid directly to the claimant the way their Social Security benefit is paid.
- You will need to have a list of doctors and hospitals you have visited in the past year
When you have gathered all of the supporting documentation, you will need to complete VA Form 21-526 for veterans or a VA Form 21-534 for surviving spouses. From here, follow the instructions on the form and submit the entire packet to one of the VA’s three Pension Maintenance centers.
To learn where to submit your application, call the VA at 1-800-827-1000. If you need help, the VA and many service organizations such as the VFW or American Legion can provide assistance. Some representatives of these organizations are well versed and willing to help, others are not. Be prepared to seek out alternative help if you feel you are not getting good advice. A word of caution, it is illegal for anyone — including attorneys — to charge for assistance with an initial claim for benefits.
Once your forms are submitted, the next step is to wait. You should receive a letter from the VA within 30-45 days acknowledging receipt of the application and providing the VA file number. After that, you should expect correspondence every 60-90 days. If you don’t receive it, call the VA to make sure they still have your claim, as some get lost and copies of the original claim need to be resubmitted. It is not uncommon for claims to take six to nine months. After about six months, you may consider getting your Congressperson involved.
Yes, the Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit application process is extensive, but it is worth it — $1,056 – $1,949 will go a long way towards providing your necessary care.
Thanks to Veterans Financial, Inc. for this valuable information
Since the application process is so extensive I have included information about Veterans Financial, Inc. since they are willing help you through the process at no cost.
Questions for Veterans Financial
1. Is there a cost to speak to or meet with a Veterans Financial, Inc. representative?
No. Veterans Financial, Inc. does not charge a fee for any consultations regarding available benefits, government programs, financial services, etc. It is a violation of Federal Regulations to charge for assistance with a Veterans Administration Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit application.
2. If I choose not to use the care provider that referred me to Veterans Financial, Inc., can I still use your services?
Yes. Veterans Financial, Inc. works with more than 1100 Assisted Living Communities, Nursing Homes, Home Healthcare Agencies, and senior referral services. Regardless of who refers you to Veterans Financial we will provide you with assistance at no cost.
3. How does Veterans Financial, Inc. get paid?
Veterans Financial, Inc. is a financial services company. Many families we help with benefits choose to implement a financial plan that we develop. These plans may include various financial and insurance products. Additionally, many of the children of the clients we help with benefits use Veterans Financial to protect themselves against future long term care expenses, buy purchasing a Long Term Care Insurance policy. In these cases Veterans Financial is paid by the companies with whom we deal and not by the family. It is part of our commitment to the community who referred you to us that if you or your family does not need such services or products you will still get the same level of service.
For other great answers to questions on Aid and Attendance be sure to check out their blog:
Contact Veterans Financial, Inc. to get additional information about how they can help you develop a plan for Assisted Living, Nursing, or Home Care expenses or to learn about the eligibility criteria for the Veterans Administration’s Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit. Use the link below to fill out this Request for Service Form below. There is no charge for this service
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