If you or someone you know is a Veteran or a Widow of a Veteran you/they may qualify for additional income from the VA to help pay for the costs of home health care, assisted-living care, and nursing-home care. You may have heard this benefit called “Improved Pension” or “Non-Service Connected Pension”. An additional monetary benefit may be available to the Veteran through the “Housebound” supplement or “Aid & Attendance” supplement.
Basic Eligibility Criteria for Base Pension
Veteran or widow(er) of a Veteran must meet all of the following criteria:
1. The Veteran must have served at least 90 days of active service with at least one day of service during a wartime period;
2. The Veteran must have received a discharge that is other than dishonorable;
3. The claimant must have limited income and assets available; and
4. The claimant must have a permanent and total disability, and the disability was caused without the willful misconduct of the claimant
2012 Maximum Rates for Base Pension*
Single Veteran – $1,021 Per Month or $12,256 Per Year
Married Veteran – $1,337 Per Month or $16,051 Per Year
Surviving Spouse – $684 Per Month or $8,219 Per Year
Aid & Attendance Benefits
An additional benefit known as Aid & Attendance may be available to Veterans or Claimants who meet the above criteria for VA Pension AND need the assistance of another person with their activities of daily living or who needs a “protective environment”.
Formal Eligibility Criteria for Aid & Attendance
Veteran/claimant shall be considered in need of aid and attendance if one of the following conditions is met:
1. Veteran/claimant is blind;
2. Veteran/claimant is living in a nursing home; or
3. Veteran/claimant is so significantly disabled as to need or require the regular aid and attendance of another person
2012 Maximum Rates for Pension Plus Aid & Attendance*
Single Veteran – $1,703 Per Month or $20,447 Per Year
Married Veteran – $2,019 Per Month or $24,239 Per Year
Surviving Spouse – $1,094 Per Month or $13,138 Per Year
Veteran married to Veteran (both A & A) – $2,631 Per Month or $31,578 Per Year
To be eligible for the Pension benefits described above a claimant should have limited assets other than their primary residence, car, and personal belongings. The VA now considers the claimant’s life expectancy in determining what amount of assets that claimant may have. As a general rule if the veteran has assets in excess of $50,000 it may be best to consult an attorney who is competent in Va Benefit planning prior to application.
To be eligible for the Pension benefits described above a claimant’s out-of-pocket monthly medical expenses must exceed or come close to his or her monthly gross income. Out of pocket monthly medical expenses may include; doctor’s fees, dentist’s fees, prescription glasses, Medicare premium deductions and co-payments, prescription medications, health insurance premiums, transportation to physician offices, therapy and costs of home health care.
Once a Veteran is awarded Aid & Attendance he or she may receive the additional benefit of free medication, medical equipment, incontinence supplies, glasses and hearing aides from the VA Hospital/Clinic. To receive these additional benefits the Veteran must make a separate application through the VA Health Care System.
*Please note that the pension rates are subject to periodic change. The rates listed above became the effective rates on December 1, 2011. Please check to make sure that the rate has not changed since this was written.
Note: Each VA claim is unique and the enclosed criteria is generic in nature and may not be applicable to each claimant. There are never any guarantees that any claims or specific benefit amount will be awarded.
Legal Disclaimer: This information has been provided for informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice. Proper legal advice can only be given based upon the specific facts and relevant law for each individual. Therefore, you should always seek appropriate counsel before acting upon the information contained herein.