VA Aid & Attendance Pension
The VA Aid & Attendance Pension is a pension benefit paid to certain qualified wartime Veterans or their widows that can make a substantial difference in affording in-home care, assisted living, skilled nursing or long term care. The VA Aid & Attendance Pension benefit was established in 1952 to provide qualified Veterans and their surviving spouses with a tax free pension benefit to help defray the cost of long-term care.
Who is eligible for VA Aid & Attendance Pension benefits?
Veterans or their widows must meet three criteria to qualify:
- Qualifying military service
- Medical necessity
- Financial eligibility (net income and resource limits apply)
For Basic Eligibility Requirements for VA Pension, click HERE
What is the qualifying Military Service?
Generally, the Veteran must have the following military service:
A. Veteran was discharged from service under conditions other than a dishonorable discharge which include the following:
- Honorable Discharge
- Discharge under honorable conditions
- General Discharge
- Bad conduct discharge, Discharge under other than honorable conditions, or Undesirable discharge may still be eligible after a “character of service determination” hearing
B. Veteran served at least 90 days of active military service, and at least 1 day of active duty which was during a qualifying wartime period:
- WW II – 12/7/41 to 7/25/47
- Korea – 6/27/50 to 1/31/55
- Vietnam – 8/5/64 to 5/7/75
What are the Medical Criteria?
A Veteran/widow age 65 or older, or if younger, permanently and totally disabled, may be eligible for VA Aid & Attendance when:
- The Veteran/widow requires the aid of another person in order to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting himself/herself from the hazards of his/her daily environment, OR,
- The Veteran/widow is bedridden, in that his/her disability or disabilities requires that he/she remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment, OR,
- The Veteran/widow is a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity, OR,
- The Veteran/widow is blind, or so nearly blind as to have corrected visual acuity of 5/200 or less in both eyes, or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.
What are the Financial Criteria?
- Countable Income.
Income includes income received by the Veteran and his or her dependents, if any, from most sources. It includes earnings, disability and retirement payments, interest and dividends, and net income from farming or business.
- Net Worth.
Net worth means the net value of the assets of the Veteran and his or her dependents. It includes such assets as bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and any property other than the Veteran’s residence and a reasonable lot area. There is no set limit on how much net worth a Veteran and his or her dependents may have, but net worth cannot be “excessive”. The decision as to whether a claimant’s net worth is excessive depends on the facts of each individual case. All net worth should be reported and VA will determine if a claimant’s assets are sufficiently large that the claimant could live off these assets for a reasonable period of time.
How Does VA calculate the Aid & Attendance pension amount?
The annual VA Aid & Attendance pension is calculated by first totaling all of the countable income. Then any allowable deductions are subtracted from that total. The remaining countable income is deducted from the appropriate annual pension limit which is determined by the number of dependents, if any. This amount is then divided by 12 and rounded down to the nearest dollar. This gives the amount of the monthly payment.
If medical expenses exceed 5% of the maximum benefit amount, they can be deducted to reduce income. The expense for a state-licensed nursing home/assisted living facility is typically the most significant expense. Deductible expenses also include Medicare premiums (part B and/or D), in-home care (medical), hygienic supplies (Depends, etc.), adult daycare, and supplemental health care premiums. Expenses for the spouse (Veteran’s Pension) are also countable. If he or she is in a care facility, only the medical portion of the cost is a deduction, and the portion for room and board is not. In-home care that is medical in nature is also deductible, but housekeeping, laundry, cooking, and shopping assistance are not.
What are the 2012 Maximum Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit Amounts?
2 Veterans/Spouses $2,631.00 per month $31,573.00 annually
Married Veteran $2,019.00 per month $24,228.00 annually
Single Veteran $1,703.00 per month $20,436.00 annually
Surviving Spouse $1,094.00 per month $13,128.00 annually
For 2013 Pension Benefit Figures, click HERE
Single Veteran receives $2,500.00 per month in income, consisting of social security retirement and retirement pension. He has $10,000.00 in savings, plus his home and car. He pays for home health care, costing $2,000.00 per month, leaving no monthly income to pay for household or general living expenses. The Veteran is quickly exhausting his savings. After deducting the $2,000.00 in medical expense from the $2,500.00 of income, his net monthly income is $500.00. Since he is a single Veteran, his monthly income per the VA should be $1,703.00. Thus, the VA will pay him $1,203.00 per month in VA Aid & Attendance pension benefit to bring his net total monthly income up to $1,703.00. Now this Veteran has a total monthly income of $3,703.00 (Social Security, retirement pension, VA Aid & Attendance pension), of which he pays $2,000.00 for home health and has $1,644.00 left for household and general living expenses each month.
Married Veteran and his spouse receive combined incomes of $4,500.00 per month consisting of social security and retirement pension. They have $25,000.00 in savings and a car. The Veteran and his spouse reside in an assisted living community together which costs $5,500.00 per month. The Veteran meets medical criteria, and would benefit from additional services such as medication administration and shower assistance, but believes he cannot afford to pay for more services for the reason the couple is already spending $1,000.00 each month out of their limited savings. After deducting the medical expenses of $5,500.00 from the total income of $4,500.00, the remaining net income is zero (no negative numbers). Since a Married Veteran should be entitled to $2,019.00 per month of net income, the VA will pay the Veteran the full A&A pension benefit of $2,019.00 per month. Now this couple has a total monthly income of $6,519.00 (Social Security, retirement pension, VA Aid & Attendance pension), of which they pay $5,500.00 for the basic monthly assisted living expenses and have $1,019.00 left each month for additional services and/or general living expenses.