By: Lindsay V.R. Moss, J.D.
Aid and Attendance Improved Pension Benefit … never heard of it? If so, you are not alone. It’s a little known benefit offered through the Veterans Administration (VA) for Veterans and spouses of Veterans. Aid & Attendance can be used to cover the cost of in-home health care, or can be used to assist with the cost of Assisted Living. To qualify, a veteran does not need to have suffered a service-related injury. They need only to have served one day of a 90 day minimum active duty military service during a time of war, and also need caregiving for activities of daily living. The eligible wartime periods are:
- World War I (April 6, 1917 – November 11, 1918)
- World War II (December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946)
- Korean conflict (June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955)
- Vietnam era (February 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975 for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period; otherwise August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975)
- Gulf War (August 2, 1990 – through a future date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation)
(If the active duty occurred after September 7, 1980, you must have served at least 24 months or the full period that you were called up)
Other requirements include:
- Age 65 or older with limited or no income; or
- Totally and permanently disabled; or
- Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance; or
- Receiving Supplemental Security Income
Aid & Attendance is a tax free monetary benefit through the VA that can supplement a family’s income and enable the use of services that would otherwise be unaffordable.
For 2015, the maximum pension rates and income limits are:
- Veteran – $1,788 per month, with an income limit of $21,466 per year
- Veteran with one dependent – $2,120 per month, with an income limit of $25,448 per year
- Surviving/Sick Spouse – $1,149 per month, with an income limit of $13,764 per year
- Veteran Couple – $2,837 per month, with an income limit of $34,050 per year
Pension benefits are needs-based and the “countable” family income must fall below the yearly limit set by law. However, with the cost of in-home health care and Assisted Living increasing each year, it is often the case that the cost of one’s health care expenses exceeds the family income.
One important thing to consider is that the income limit does not include medical expenses. For example, if a Veteran and spouse have a combined income of $70,000 a year, but $60,000 of their yearly income is going towards the expense of an Assisted Living (which equates to $5,000 a month… a relatively average cost for an Assisted Living facility), then the Veteran would qualify for the full Aid & Attendance amount of $2,120 per month. That’s about 40% of the cost of the Assisted Living! The additional income can make a huge difference in the quality of life for both the individual receiving the benefit and the community spouse. It could also mean the difference between a substandard Assisted Living facility and a more reputable one.
Aid & Attendance can also be used towards the cost of in-home health care. For example, if a Veteran (or spouse) is living at home, but is racking up medical expenses utilizing a home health care agency, Aid & Attendance can be used to supplement the cost. It can even be used to pay the adult child(ren) of a Veteran or spouse, if they are providing the care for their parent, and a valid caregiver agreement is in place.
There are several documents that are needed to start the application process. The application requires, among other documents, a copy of the Veteran’s DD-214 (discharge paperwork), a medical evaluation from a physician, proof of current medical expenses, net worth and income information, and documentation of current out-of-pocket medical expenses.
The application process can be a very confusing and tedious journey. Both Stephen Elville, Esq. and Lindsay Moss, Esq. are VA Accredited Attorneys through the Veterans Administration, trained in navigating the intricacies of the VA system. Call us if you or one of your family members is a Veteran, so we can ensure that you are aware of all benefits you may be eligible for under the law.
For more information, please call 443-393-7696 or complete the form below.