How to Apply for VA Benefits
The VA Aid & Attendance pension benefit can help qualified senior veterans and their spouses pay for long-term care they need at home, in assisted living, or in a nursing home. You have to submit a detailed application to the VA to be considered for Aid & Attendance, but the process can save you and your family thousands of dollars a year in out of pocket expenses. Here’s how to apply for VA benefits that can help you, your parent, or your spouse cover the cost of care.
Before you apply for VA benefits
First, find out if you’re eligible. Aid & Attendance is available to veterans who have qualifying military service, health needs, and financial assets. You must meet all three requirements to be eligible.
Military service requirements
Aid & Attendance is open to veterans who served at least 90 active-duty days, including at least one day that started or ended during a period of war. You didn’t have to serve in a combat zone to qualify, just during the times specified. Remember that the VA defines wartime more broadly than the history books, which means you may be eligible even if you served before or after the main part of a conflict. For example, Vietnam-era veterans who served from February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975 may qualify.
Aid & Attendance is available to veterans with qualifying service records who:
- need help with one or more activities of daily living (bathing, eating, dressing, etc.) or
- are nursing-home residents or
- are bedridden or
- have severe vision impairment
Veterans with qualifying military service and health needs must also have less than $80,000 in assets, not counting their home and car.
Documents you’ll need to apply for VA benefits
If you meet all these requirements, you’re ready to apply. You’ll need:
Proof of service
a copy of your DD-214 discharge/separation papers
Your most recent Social Security Award Letter
Documentation of all your sources of income, such as investment and annuity income
A net worth statement and documentation of your assets, including bank and investment accounts and insurance policies
A voided check and routing information for the bank account you want to receive direct deposit of your benefits
Proof of out-of-pocket medical expenses such as insurance premiums, copays, deductibles, and other non-reimbursed expenses you’ve paid
A list of all the hospitals and doctors you or your family member have visited in the past year
A written statement from your doctor describing your current diagnosis and health status, prognosis, and help you need with care or daily activities. The statement must include your name and address. Nursing home residents should include a Nursing Home Status Statement with their application.
For married or widowed veterans and spouses: a copy of your marriage certificate and (if applicable) your spouse’s death certificate
For court-appointed guardians: a copy of the court order of your guardianship for the veteran or surviving spouse
Submit your VA benefits application
Keep copies of every document you’re sending and include either VA Form 21-527EZ, for veterans, or VA Form 21-534EZ, for spouses. Fill out the form completely. Contact the VA at 1-877-222-VETS if you have questions about the form or any of the requirements. Our sister site, VeteranAid.org, recommends you send your application via USPS Certified Mail and request a return receipt to confirm that the VA receives your application.
It can take up to a year for the VA to process A&A benefit applications. If you need care in the meantime, look for a nursing home or assisted living community that’s experienced in working with veterans who receive A&A. They may be willing to defer or reduce payment until your application is approved. Once it is, you’ll get a lump-sum payment backdated to the day you applied and a monthly check going forward.