Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit Program

Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit Program

Many veterans and their families are unaware of the Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension benefit. This is a quick overview of the benefit. It is a ‘needs-based’ benefit that is paid to certain veterans and their survivors. A key component of the benefit is assistance by another person with “Activities of Daily Living” (ADLs): bathing, eating, dressing, toileting, ambulating and/or hygiene. It also includes adjusting prosthetic devices and is available to those in this group who are blind. This assistance can be provided via care at home, at an assisted living community or nursing home.

 

Military service eligibility:
The veteran must have served at least 90 days of active duty with at least one day during “wartime,” defined:
• WWII – December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946
• Korean Conflict – June 27, 1950 to January 31, 1955
• Vietnam Era – August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975; February 28, 1961, for veterans who served “in country” before August 4, 1964
• Gulf War – August 2, 1990 to a date yet to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation

 

The veteran must have an Honorable or General (Under Honorable Conditions) discharge.

 

If the veteran entered the service after September 7, 1980, he or she must have served a minimum of 24 months of continuous active duty (with some exceptions).

 

There are three primary tests: Medical Needs Test, Income Test and the Asset Test.

 

Medical Needs Test: The veteran must be at least 65; if under 65 he or she must be totally disabled. Medical evidence must be submitted. For a single surviving spouse applying for a Death Pension benefit, the deceased veteran does not have to meet any disability or age requirements nor does the surviving spouse need to meet any disability requirements, regardless of his or her age. The surviving spouse must have been married to the veteran at the veteran’s death, must be single at the time of application and cannot have remarried after November 1, 1990. A medical need for assistance or supervision due to disability in most cases is critical to getting or not getting the Pension benefit.

 

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. Generally the household non-reimbursed medical expenses must exceed or come close to the total annual household gross income.

 

Asset Test:
Generally, assets cannot exceed $80,000, excluding home, vehicles and personal property.

 

Benefits – Per Month for Qualifying Veterans:
Single veteran                                       $1,788
Surviving spouse                                  $1,149
Married veteran                                   $2,121
Two married veterans who both need the benefit      $2,837

 

Generally it takes six to nine months to get approved, but benefits are retroactive. Veterans 90 or older can request their application be expedited.

 

Information can be obtained directly from the federal government website at: http://www.benefits.va.gov/PENSION/vetpen.asp

 

For those applying for benefits it may be worthwhile to consult with an Elder Law Attorney who has experience in this specialized area.