If your parent is a veteran or the widowed spouse of one, he or she may be eligible for a VA benefit program to help pay for care. The Aid & Attendance pension is for qualified veterans and spouses who need daily care and meet certain financial and military-service requirements. Here are some of the most common questions about A&A and how you can find out if your parent qualifies for the Aid & Attendance pension.
Who’s eligible for the A&A program?
A surprising number of eligible veterans don’t know about Aid and Attendance or assume they won’t qualify. Veterans who served during wartime, even if they never saw combat, may be eligible if they have assets of less than $80,000 (excluding their home and one car) and need daily help with self-care or medical care. Our sister site VeteranAid.org helps families understand and navigate the application process. Their FAQ page includes a list of official wartime periods.
What services does the A&A pension benefit pay for?
The Aid and Attendance benefit helps with the cost of in-home care, assisted living, and nursing home care for veterans and their spouses who need help with activities of daily living, mobility, and supervision for safety.
How much money does the A&A program provide?
As of this writing, the A&A program pays monthly benefits up to $1,758 for qualified veterans, $1,380 for veterans with spouses who need care, $2,085 to qualified couples, and $1,130 to the surviving spouse of a qualified veteran.
How do I help my parent apply?
Set aside time in your schedule and make room for paperwork. You’ll need to submit these items:
- DD-214 Discharge/separation papers
- Copy of marriage certificate
- Copy of current Social Security benefit statement
- Net worth total, including bank accounts and investments
- Proof of income from all sources
- Proof of out-of-pocket, un-reimbursed medical costs, including insurance premiums, medications, bills and co-pays
- A voided check for direct deposit of benefits upon approval
- A letter from your parent’s doctor including your parent’s diagnosis, health status and prognosis, and any needs for help with self-care, travel, and attendance.
- A Nursing Home Status Form, if your parent is already a nursing home resident
- A list of the doctors and hospitals your parent has visited in the past year
- VA form 21-0845(Authorization to Disclose Personal Information to a Third Party) to allow the VA to share information with you about your parent’s application
Make copies of everything, keep the originals, and send your application packet via Certified Mail so you have a record of the delivery date.
What else do we need to know about the A&A program?
Know that you’ll need patience. The time it takes to approve your application will vary, but VeteranAid.org says 6 to 9 months is the typical range for processing A&A applications. If your parent is 90 or older, you can request an expedited review when you submit the application.
Payments are retroactive to the application date, which means if your parent is approved he or she will get a lump-sum payment covering the application-to-approval date range, followed by monthly payments.
Possible changes in 2017 may reduce the number of veterans who qualify for the program by looking at the applicant’s financial history for the most recent three years instead of the past year only. Contact the VA at (877) 222-VETS to get the most up to date information on these proposed changes, and visit VeteranAid.org for details on the application process.