Millions of Americans have served in the Armed Forces over the years and most people would agree that they, and their families, deserve some financial security in exchange for their invaluable service. Unfortunately, many veterans who have sustained non-service related injuries are unaware that they are eligible for compensation from the offices of Veterans Affairs (VA). The Aid and Attendance Benefit for veterans may be one of the least-known pension programs today, but according to veteranaid.org, it can get an injured veteran a monthly benefit up to $1,632, whether injuries were sustained during service or not.
The Aid and Attendance (A&A) benefit was introduced in 1979 as part of the VA’s Improved Pension plan. The Improved Pension plan is a three-tiered program for dispersing benefits to veterans who served in active duty and became injured, or otherwise disabled, during the course of their lives. To receive the Improved Pension, you must first qualify for the Basic Pension.
The eligibility requirements for the Basic Pension are as follows:
- Veteran was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable
- Veteran served at least 90 days of active military service, at least 1 day of which was during a war time period (as defined by the VA)
- Veteran’s countable income is below a yearly limit (set by Congress)
- Veteran is 65 or older, or is permanently and totally disabled, not due to his or her own willful misconduct ( the disability need not be obtained during military service)
If you qualify for the Basic Pension, the VA will decide if you qualify for one of the two Improved Pension options. The first option is the Housebound Benefit and the second option is the A&A.
The Housebound Benefit is for veterans who have a single permanent disability evaluated as 100% disabling and have one of the following two conditions apply: (1) the single disability renders the veteran permanently and substantially confined to his/her premises or (2) the veteran has a second disability, or disabilities, and they are evaluated as 60% or more disabling.
The A&A is for veterans who need regular assistance or who live in a nursing home or assisted living facility. If qualified for the basic pension and meeting one or more of the following conditions, a veteran could receive the additional A&A monthly benefit of up to $1,632 for a single veteran, $1,055 for a surviving spouse, or $1,949 for a veteran and spouse. The A&A requirements are:
- Veteran requires the regular aid of another person to perform everyday functions such as bathing, eating, dressing, etc.
- Veteran is bedridden
- Veteran is a patient in a nursing home
- Veteran is blind or nearly blind
For anyone meeting these requirements, the A&A benefit will be provided to offset the costs associated with hiring an attendant, or living in a nursing home or assisted living facility. For interested veterans or spouses, it is important to note that the paperwork for the A&A benefit can take 6-9 months to process. In order to ensure you are getting the maximum benefit, you should file your paperwork as soon as possible.
Remember that both the Housebound Benefit and the A&A are paid in addition to the basic pension rate. Veterans cannot collect both the Housebound Benefit and the A&A at the same time. In cases where applicants qualify for more than one of these pensions, the VA will pay out the largest dollar amount. Visit here to find out the eligibility requirements for the Improved Pension plan, as well as the documentation you will need to complete the process. You can also apply by contacting your regional VA office. You can find a list of regional offices at this web address.
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