Veterans’ Aid and Attendance Benefit Guide
July 20th, 2022
Veterans who served our country during wartime deserve not only gratitude, but all the financial benefits to which their service entitles them. Unfortunately, many veterans are unaware of all of the benefits they qualify for. One of the most commonly overlooked benefits is the Veterans’ Aid and Attendance Benefit.
What is Veterans’ Aid and Attendance?
Veterans’ Aid and Attendance benefits are supplemental benefits that are added to the monthly VA pension amount for qualifying veterans and their survivors. The benefit is intended to help veterans and their survivors who, because of certain physical or mental conditions or limitations, require the “aid and attendance” of another person.
In order to qualify for Aid and Attendance, you must meet certain service requirements, financial requirements, and medical requirements.
Service Requirements for Veterans’ Aid and Attendance
In order for a veteran or their surviving spouse to be eligible for this benefit, the veteran must have:
- Entered active duty on or before September 7, 1980 and served at least 90 days on active military service, with at least one day during a covered wartime period, OR
- Entered active duty after September 7, 1980 and served at least 24 months or the full period for which called to active duty, with at least one day during a covered wartime period, OR
- Was an officer who served on active duty after October 16, 1981, and had not previously served on active duty for at least 24 months.
The veteran (or surviving spouse) must also qualify for the basic veterans’ pension (or survivors’ pension) as well as meeting all other requirements. A surviving spouse who would otherwise qualify for Aid and Attendance but remarries loses their eligibility.
It is not necessary that the veteran served in a combat zone to be eligible for Aid and Attendance so long as they served during wartime as defined by the VA and Congress. Wartime service is defined as:
- World War II: December 7, 1941 through December 31, 1946
- Korean Conflict: June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955
- Vietnam: February 28, 1961 through May 7, 1975, for individuals who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that time; for others, wartime is defined as August 5, 1964 through May 7, 1975
- Gulf War: August 2, 1990 through a future date to be established; this wartime period is still ongoing for purposes of VA benefits.
Requirements for Basic Veterans’ Pension
A veteran who meets the requirements for active duty and duty during wartime, or their surviving spouse, must also meet at least one of the criteria to qualify for the basic veterans’ pension. These criteria are:
- Aged 65 or older with no income or very limited income
- Permanently and totally disabled
- Receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Receives Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits
- Resides in a nursing home for long-term care because of a disability
Until fairly recently, financial eligibility for the basic veterans’ pension was based on household income without regard to assets. A veteran with low household income but significant assets could qualify for pension, while a veteran with income just above allowable limits and few other assets would be denied. To avoid inequity, in 2018 the VA began determining financial eligibility using the veteran’s household net worth.
As of this writing in 2022, the household net worth limit to be able to receive the basic veterans’ pension is $138,489. This figure is adjusted annually for inflation. A primary residence, on a lot of up to two acres, and vehicle are not considered countable assets for the purpose of this calculation.
Clinical Requirements for Aid and Attendance Benefit
Because this benefit is intended for individuals who require the support of a caretaker, applicants must meet certain medical, or clinical, requirements. In order to qualify, you must meet at least one of the following:
- You need the help of another person to perform activities of daily living (ADL) such as bathing, feeding, transferring, toileting, and dressing.
- Because of illness, you must stay in bed, or spend a large portion of the day in bed.
- You have a disability and loss of mental or physical abilities and are a resident in a nursing home.
- Your eyesight is limited: vision is 5/200 or less in both eyes even with glasses or contact lenses, or you have concentric contraction of the visual field to five degrees or less.
How Much are Aid and Attendance Benefits?
Your Veterans’ Aid and Attendance benefit amount depends on your marital status, whether you have any dependents, and whether both spouses are veterans. The basic veterans’ pension with Aid and Attendance benefit is $1,244 per month for a surviving spouse; $1,936 for a single veteran; $2,295 for a married veteran; and $3,071 for two veterans married to one another. There may be additional benefits for dependents. These are the amounts for 2022, and will continue to be adjusted annually for inflation.
How to Apply for Veterans’ Aid
If you believe you meet the clinical, financial and service requirements for Veterans’ Aid and Attendance, you will need to submit the appropriate forms and documentation. You can apply for benefits by mail to a Pension Management Center, online, or in person at a VA regional office.
You will need to submit appropriate forms and documentation however you choose to apply. These may include:
- VA Form 21-2680 (Examination for Housebound Status or Permanent Need for Regular Aid and Attendance)
- Copy of your current year Social Security award letter
- DD-214 Military Discharge papers. While you must provide originals, not photocopies, you can get replacements for lost discharge papers from the National Archives.
- Documentation of assets and income
- Documentation of insurance premiums and unreimbursed medical expenses.
Depending on your circumstances, you may need to provide other documentation as well. For instance, you may need to furnish a marriage certificate and death certificate if you are applying as a surviving spouse, or a statement of occupancy if you are a resident of a nursing home.
While it is technically possible to apply for benefits on your own, most people find that the process can be quite difficult and they need the assistance of an accredited VA attorney. Attorney Ted Gudorf from Gudorf Law Group has been accredited since 2008 and has helped hundreds of veterans or their spouses obtain this valuable benefit. To learn more about whether you may qualify for Aid and Attendance or to get help with the application process, please contact Gudorf Law Group.