Understanding the VA Aide and Attendance Pension
Veterans who have served on active duty during wartime are often unaware that they may be eligible for a VA Aide & Attendance Pension to help with the cost of assisted living, adult daycare, skilled nursing, and home care. A veteran’s surviving spouse may also be eligible for this assistance. The amount of this pension may be up to $1881 to $2230 per month, depending on the veteran’s family size, and the funds are given directly to the veteran or surviving spouse to help pay for his or her care.
The general qualifications include:
- A veteran must have served on active duty for at least 90 days, with at least one day during wartime.
- The veteran must have been honorably discharged.
- The veteran must be at least 65, or officially disabled if younger.
- A veteran must require help with activities of daily living.
- A veteran must meet the income and asset guidelines.
There are three levels of VA Pensions: Basic Pension, Aid & Attendance, and Housebound. A veteran must be eligible for the Basic Pension in order to qualify for the Aid & Attendance and Housebound benefits and must have limited income and assets to be eligible. However, the income and asset guidelines are considered quite generous, given that the VA allows veterans to deduct their projected ongoing medical expenses from their income to reduce the amount of their countable income.
For example, if Bill has an income of $32,000 per year, but has assisted-living expenses of $36,000 per year, he would show a deficit and may be eligible for the full pension amount of $1881 per month, for a single person. With these additional funds, he could easily afford to pay for his assisted-living care. While the guidelines are far more complex than outlined in this brief example, it is helpful to see how a veteran could potentially be eligible. There is also an asset limit of $123,600, not including a primary home and vehicle, as well as a look-back period of three years for gifts and items sold.
Assistance is available for veterans interested in learning more about the VA Aide & Attendance Pension or for those interested in applying. Remember, you do not need to have a service-connected disability to be eligible for this pension. The Veteran’s Service Officers are able to assist with this process at 208-235-7890 or more information can be found online at https://www.benefits.va.gov/pension/aid attendance_housebound.asp. You are also welcome to call our office to obtain more information.
Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all of Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.