Veterans Day on November 11 is the time to honor those who served in the military during wartime or peace time. Along with thanking veterans for their service, the best thing you can do for veterans is to help them claim all the VA benefits for which they’re entitled. Sadly, many veterans and their survivors are eligible but go without these available resources due to a lack of awareness.
For example, while most people are aware that the VA compensates veterans who are disabled as the result of military service, many are unaware that a pension exists for wartime veterans who do NOT have a service-connected disability. This pension is intended to help wartime veterans and their families cope with financial challenges by providing supplemental income.
What is Aid and Attendance?
There’s another little-known benefit known as Aid and Attendance for those who are 65+ and need the aid and attendance of another for their daily living activities.
This VA benefit known as "Aid and Attendance" is an additional amount that can be added to the VA’s monthly compensation amount or the VA’s monthly pension amount to assist those who are disabled and need help to live safely at home.
Most often it’s the VA Pension with Aid and Attendance that goes unclaimed. The VA doesn’t notify those who may be eligible as they turn 65. Many veterans believe they are getting all available benefits for care when they’re enrolled with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). The benefit is administered by the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) a different branch of the VA.
Who is Eligible for the VA Pension with Aid and Attendance?
Veterans and their survivors are eligible for Aid and Attendance. Married couples are only eligible if the veteran needs assistance. A surviving spouse must have been married to the veteran at the time of his death and in most cases must not have re-married.
There are 3 basic types of questions to ask regarding eligibility: military, medical and money. Ask first about military service. Eligible candidates will answer “Yes” to the following questions.
1. Did the veteran serve at least 1 day during wartime? (Combat duty, overseas service or service-connected disability is not required.)
2. Did the veteran serve at least 90 days of active duty? Persian Gulf War veterans must have served at least 2 years active duty or the full period for which they were called for active duty?
3. Did the veteran receive an honorable or general discharge?
4. Does the veteran or surviving spouse have a medical condition causing the need for assistance with activities of daily living? (i.e.— help with bathing, dressing, grooming, using the toilet, meal preparation, moving about safely.) Those disabled under 65 may use a letter from Social Security to apply.
5. Does the veteran or surviving spouse have a net worth (income + assets) at or less than approximately $131,000? (A home and 1 vehicle are not counted as part of net worth. Ongoing medical and long-term care expenses may be deducted to qualify.)
What is the Aid and Attendance benefit amount?
The maximum VA Pension with additional Aid and Attendance funds effective 12.2020
•Surviving Spouse Up to $1,244 per month
•VeteranUp to $1,936 per month
•Married VeteranUp to $2,295 per month
How to Use Aid and Attendance Funds
Aid and Attendance funds can be used for a variety of services including: in-home caregivers, adult daycare, incontinence supplies, medical alert systems, assisted living facilities, skilled nursing facilities and more.
Where to Get Help to Apply
For those who want to use their VA Aid and Attendance benefit primarily for in-home care or adult daycare, Veterans Home Care’s VetAssist Program is an excellent choice. The VetAssist Program bundles a variety of services that cannot be found elsewhere. They offer free help determining eligibility and with VA claim filing. They also arrange care with professional caregivers and help clients with ongoing VA compliance issues. Along with that, they can get care started right away before VA funds arrive. Often, applicants wait several months before the VA processes their claim. Most VetAssist clients receive the full benefit amount. VetAssist also offers the latest medical alert system powered by the intelligence and entertainment of Alexa. For the VetAssist Program, call 888-314-6075, email [email protected] or visit www.veteranshomecare.com
Veterans Home Care enrollment specialists will refer anyone who is not a good fit for VetAssist to another resource such as calling 211 or a veteran service officer. Veterans who are already receiving VA compensation above $1,000 per month are not a good fit for the VetAssist Program.
Veteran service officers serve as advocates for veterans. Veteran service officers can assist with all types of veterans’ benefits at no charge. Each state’s Veterans Affairs Department has veteran service officers. They are also available at not for profits such as the American Legion or the VFW.
Author: Beth O’Connor | Regional Manager | Veterans Home Care NYJ, LLC