Veterans Aid And Attendance Pension Benefit
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Veterans Aid And Attendance Pension Benefit

What Benefits are included in the Improved Pension Plan?

Less that 25% of Veterans that may be eligible for the 'little known" benefit more commonly referred to as "Aid and Attendance" are receiving the benefit. Those numbers are not any better for surviving spouse of those veterans. Only 17% of widows are receiving the benefit. For those people that have served our country, these numbers must improve.

The VA provides financial assistance to Veterans and their spouses with low income or those that require expensive medical assistance. The Pension benefits are means tested against countable income and assets. Your income must fall below the yearly limit, which Congress determines.

The veterans that are eligible for a VA pension and need another person for assistance with activities of daily living, or are home bound, may be eligible for increased assistance. These benefits are paid in addition to monthly pension, but the veteran must be eligible for Pension. This is the Aid and Attendance part that is available.

Since Aid and Attendance and Home bound allowances would increase the pension amount, due to higher medical expenses, people who may not have previously qualified for the basic pension for having too much income may be now be qualified for pension at these increased rates. A Veteran or surviving spouse cannot receive both Aid and Attendance benefits and Home bound benefits concurrently.

Those Veterans and surviving spouses who are eligible for the VA pension and are also Home bound may qualify for an additional benefit beyond the basic pension. Individuals that are confined to their immediate premises due to an existing permanent disability, and only leave home only to attend doctor appointments and other medically necessary treatments, or those that require the assistance of another person when leaving the home, may be considered home bound.

So why don't more people take advantage of this program?

Well they could be like my mother-in-law. My mother-in-law had been in assisted living for a little over five years when she ran out of money. That is not hard to do with the costs associated with long term care these days. She had burned through a lifetime of accumulated savings in those 65 months.

Having little alternative at that point, other than to apply for Medicaid to help pay for her care, my wife and I met with the Medicaid social worker. Upon learning that my father-in-law had been a Korean War veteran, she asked, “Are you getting any benefits from the VA?”

Really, five years in assisted living and no one had ever asked if my father-in-law was a Veteran. There is a reason this benefit is referred to as “A little Known about Benefit”.

The worst part was that at this point, having to apply for Medicaid, it was too late to apply, as you cannot receive both Aid and Attendance and Medicaid. So, she missed out on nearly$65, 000 in benefits that would have allowed her to continue to privately pay for another two years.

Aid and Attendance application and approval process can be frustratingly slow. The approval process itself can averages nearly nine months. There is the “Fully Developed Claims” process recently implemented by the VA, in which a complete and accurate applications can be processed more quickly. If the applicant has little financial resources and those that are over 70 years-old may request an expedited review of their application. While the approval process can average six to nine months, there is a retroactive process which would allow payment to be made back to the first day of the following month upon approval of eligibility. The first benefit payment would include a lump sum to cover the months that the application was pending.


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