Benefits and Eligibility for Aid and Attendance
The VA Aid and Attendance Pension is a monetary “add on” to the Basic Veterans/Survivors Pension. For eligible veterans and surviving spouses, it can provide funds for in-home care, assisted living, and nursing home care. Here are the maximum benefit amounts for eligible veterans and surviving spouses in 2021:
- Veteran without a spouse or dependent child: $1,936/month
- Married veteran: $2,295/month
- Surviving spouse: $1,244/month
Four considerations govern eligibility for Aid and Attendance: Three Year Lookback for Asset Transfers, Service, Medical Conditions, and Financial Need.
Three Year Lookback for Asset Transfers
In 2018, the VA instituted a three year lookback period (similar to the Medicaid program) that creates periods of ineligibility based on certain asset transfers. It is important to consult with us regarding any such transfers to assess their impact on eligibility for VA benefits.
A veteran must have been discharged from military, air, or naval service, and served a minimum of 90 days of active service (full time duty) with a minimum of one day served during a time of war. For those who became active duty in one of the above branches after 9/7/1980, there is an additional service requirement. These veterans must have served active duty for a minimum of 24-months, and if a veteran served less than this amount of time, he/she must have finished an entire tour of duty (his or her period of obligated active duty service). It is important to note that a veteran who was dishonorably discharged is not eligible for Aid and Attendance.
The VA defines war time periods as follows:
- May 9, 1916 through April 5, 1917 – Mexican Border Period (veterans who served in Mexico, the borders of Mexico, or adjacent waters)
- April 6, 1917 through November 11, 1918 – World War I
- December 7, 1941 through December 31, 1946 – World War II
- June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955 – Korean Conflict
- February 28, 1961 through May 7, 1975 – Vietnam Era (These dates are for veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam. If they didn’t, the valid dates are August 5,1964 through May 7, 1975.)
- August 2, 1990 through currently undetermined – Gulf War
A veteran or his/her surviving spouse must meet ONE of the conditions below:
- Needs assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), such as bathing, grooming, dressing, eating, and mobility
- Bedridden (confined to one’s bed)
- Resident of a nursing home facility due to the inability to function physically or mentally
- Have profound visual impairment (both eyes have equal or less than 5/200 visual acuity OR the visual field has concentric contraction equal to 5 degrees or less)
Basically, a veteran or surviving spouse must have a financial need in order to qualify for Aid and Attendance. That is, he or she must pass the “asset test” and the “income test.” The household income of the veteran or the surviving spouse cannot exceed the Maximum Allowable Pension Rate (MAPR) for that category of application. However, the household income can be reduced to meet the income test under certain special conditions.
As for the asset test, in 2021 household net worth cannot exceed $130,773. This limit changes on December 1 of each year and increases to match the CPI inflation percentage increase for Social Security. (Net worth is the sum of household assets plus household income that has been reduced by out-of-pocket medical costs. A personal residence, a reasonable amount of land on which it sits, personal property, and automobiles for personal use are exempted from the asset test.)
What if you meet the service and medical requirements for eligibility but not the asset and/or income requirements? With proper planning, it may be possible to structure your assets and income in such a way that you are able to achieve eligibility.
We have extensive experience in this area of the law and have helped numerous veterans obtain Aid and Attendance. You have served our country. We welcome the opportunity to be of service to you in return. We invite you to contact us at your earliest convenience to discuss your particular situation.