While we all had the opportunity during Memorial Day yesterday to honor those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom, today I started thinking about how to help veterans who are still with us. Do you know a veteran or the spouse of a veteran who may need a little help to stay at home? The following information may at least give you an idea of what's available and how to even start.
Trying to tackle veteran benefits can be daunting. Let's start with some information on the Pension benefit. Quick disclaimer: This blog is intended to assist with research and is not to be substituted for advice from legal or veteran benefit professionals.
According to the Senior Veterans Service Alliance (SVSA), "Pension is a monthly, tax-free payment to veterans who served during a period of war. It is also available for their single surviving spouses and/or dependent children. Generally, cash income payments from Pension range from $768 a month to $2,266 a month, depending on the type of claim and the medical rating involved."
Many people don't even know the existence of this benefit.
"It is unfortunate Pension has been misnamed 'Aid and Attendance,'" the SVSA website reads. "The terms 'Aid and Attendance' and 'Housebound' are medical ratings and allow for additional monetary allowances provided with Pension if the recipient of Pension needs the regular aid and attendance of another person or is considered housebound."
This misnomer creates confusion because aid and attendance allowances are also available for service-connected disabilities (Disability Compensation) and to a spouse of a service-connected disabled veteran. Also, an aid and attendance allowance is available to a surviving spouse of a veteran if the surviving spouse is receiving Disability and Indemnity Compensation. According to the SVSA, there are "about 16 different monetary levels of aid and attendance or housebound allowances available with non-service connected and service-connected disability programs for veterans or their surviving spouses."
AID & ATTENDANCE AND HOUSEBOUND ALLOWANCES
As previously stated, Veterans Aid and Attendance or Housebound allowances provide monthly payments added to the amount of a monthly Pension for qualified Veterans and survivors. So, who can benefit from these allowances?
Veterans must meet the following criteria to qualify: MILITARY SERVICE RULES A senior Wartime Veteran must have: 1. Served 90 consecutive days on active military duty; 2. Served at least one (1) day during a wartime period; and 3. Received a better than dishonorable discharge.
How Is Wartime Service Defined? Congress defines the periods of wartime that the VA uses to determine which veterans are eligible for benefits like A&A, as: · World War II: December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946 · Korean Conflict: June 27, 1950 to January 31, 1955 · Vietnam Era: February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975, for veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period; otherwise August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975 · Gulf War: August 2, 1990, through a future date, to be set by Presidential proclamation or law. For VA benefits purposes, this time of war is still in effect.
SURVIVING SPOUSE RULES A surviving spouse of a Wartime Veteran must have: 1. Been married to the Veteran at the time of his or her death; and 2. Not remarried. MEDICAL QUALIFICATION RULES A Veteran or Surviving Spouse must: 1. Need Assistance in two (2) of the five activities of daily living which include: · Eating · Bathing · Ambulation · Dressing · Toileting
2. Or because of a cognitive impairment and cannot live alone without a protective environment.
A Veteran or Surviving Spouse must meet an income test and net worth test.
1. Income Test: To qualify for the maximum benefit, the claimant’s care and medical expenses must exceed their income.
2. Net Worth Test: To qualify, the claimant’s net worth cannot exceed $129,094 for the Veteran and his or her spouse for effective dates of payments through November 30, 2020.
Note: Effective October 18, 2018, the Department of Veterans Affairs changed the net worth criteria for Pension claims. Net worth after that date is the sum of a claimant's assets plus income of the claimant and spouse or the income of a single surviving spouse. A personal residence, a reasonable amount of land on which it sits (up to 2 acres), personal property and automobiles for personal use are exempted from the asset test.
MAXIMUM BENEFIT AMOUNTS
Status Monthly Annually
Married Veteran $2,266 $27,195
Single Veteran $1,911 $22,939
Healthy Veteran with Sick Spouse $1,500 $18,008
Surviving Spouse $1,228 $14,742
APPLYING FOR AID & ATTENDANCE ALLOWANCE
There are two types of Pension applications:
Application for veteran households with low income and few assets. For living veterans younger than 65, medical evidence must also be submitted for proof of total disability. Anyone on Social Security disability is considered totally disabled for purposes of Pension. For living veterans age 65 and older and single surviving spouses of veterans, there is no requirement to be disabled. These low-income applications may or may not have a need for an additional rating to receive an aid and attendance or housebound allowance.
Application where the household typically has income above the income limit. These applicants may also have significant assets and some legitimate planning has to occur to make sure that the net worth limit is met. These types of claims almost always involve a form of long-term care. These care costs may include paying for the following types of services:
· Members of the family to provide care at home
· Home Care services
· Adult Day Care
· Independent Living
· Assisted Living
· Nursing Home
The second type of claim requires medical evidence for a rating for aid and attendance or housebound allowances. Using an experienced person who understands how to get a successful award is also highly recommended. Such expertise is almost always needed such as meeting the strict document requirements, understanding the risk of applying too soon, understanding how the net worth limit works, making sure that the doctor’s report is accurate, applying for additional benefits, etc.
Here are the forms typically associated with these more challenging types of claims.
VBA Form 21-527ez – Veteran's Application for Pension (for a living veteran)
VBA Form 21-534ez – Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, Death Pension and Accrued Benefits by a Surviving Spouse or Child
SF 180 – Request Pertaining to Military Records (Used to obtain discharge record)
VBA Form 21-0779 – Request for Nursing Home Information in Connection with Claim for Aid and Attendance
VBA Form 21-2680 – Examination for Housebound Status or Permanent need for Regular Aid and Attendance (Completed by Claimant's Physician)
Care Provider Certification of Services – Care Provider Report (Completed by Claimant's Care Provider & used to provide evidence of recurring medical expenses)
For more detailed information on the application process, please visit:
When submitting an application, it is vital that it be done correctly the first time if possible. Missing documents or errors may delay a decision for up to a year because of the required notification and response times from the Veterans Administration. If you need additional assistance or would like more information, please give Favor Home Care a call at 501-725-2273 and we will point you in the right direction!