The Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit
“Aid and Attendance” is a commonly used term for a benefit from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that is available to qualifying wartime Veterans and their surviving spouses. Aid and Attendance is part of the VA’s Disability and Death Pension programs. Other names for these Pensions include Enhanced Monthly Benefit, Income Improvement Pension, Non-Service Connected Disability Pension, and Improved Pension. “Aid and Attendance” refers to the fact that in order to qualify for this higher level of Pension, the Veteran or surviving spouse must demonstrate a regular need for the assistance of a caregiver or the need to live in a protected environment because of physical or mental impairment. If the Veteran does not require Aid and Attendance, but has a low household income, they may be eligible for a base pension of a lesser dollar amount.
2015 the maximum monthly benefits for those qualifying for the Aid & Attendance level of Pension is:
• Surviving Spouse of a Veteran: $1,149
• Veteran with no Spouse or dependent children: $1,788
• Married couple where the Veteran requires care: $2,120
• Veteran is healthy but Spouse requires care, Veteran qualifies for Income Improvement Pension: $1,404
Do I need to be injured during service to qualify?
The Aid & Attendance Pension is different from the VA’s Compensation benefit.
Compensation is a certain amount of monthly income awarded to a Veteran to compensate for an injury or illness incurred while in service to his/her country. This injury or illness is referred to as a service-connected disability. The amount of compensation income that a Veteran will receive is based on what the VA determines to be the veteran’s percentage of disability. There is generally no income or asset test to determine eligibility for Compensation benefits.
Pension benefits are supplemental income programs for Veterans who have a disability unrelated to their military service and/or are at least 65 years old. It also provides a similar income to the surviving spouse of a qualifying Veteran. Pension is for wartime Veterans and it is based on their financial circumstances, care needs, and associated medical expenses.
How Do I Determine If I Am Eligible?
While no one can guarantee you eligibility, Veterans Financial will thoroughly explain the VA’s eligibility criteria with you to help you understand if you are a good candidate for the benefit.
The VA considers assets in determining eligibility. However, unlike Medicaid, you do not need to be destitute in order to be awarded benefits. The VA allows applicants with assets to implement certain financial strategies before applying.
If a Veteran already receives Compensation and he or she begins incurring high out-of-pocket medical bills from Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, Adult Day or Home Care, the Veteran can apply for additional Pension benefits. If awarded Pension, the Veteran will receive the greater of the two benefits. Veterans receiving Compensation of 90% or higher may not need to apply for Pension. If the Veteran believes the current need for Aid and Attendance is related to the service connected disability, he or she may be entitled to a greater benefit. In these circumstances, the Veteran should contact the Department of Veterans Affairs directly to discuss the situation.