Brenda Lyle – Florida Today
Q: How do veterans qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits?
A: Veterans Administration Aid and Attendance benefits provide monthly payments added to the amount of a monthly VA pension for qualified veterans and survivors. The Aid and Attendance benefit is one best resources to help pay for in-home or assisted living care, but most veterans do not even know about it! Some are discouraged by the application process or myths surrounding the benefit. So let’s get into it.
Who is eligible?
To qualify for benefits, a veteran must first qualify for the “basic” pension. This requires a veteran to meet ONE of the following criteria. The veteran must be 65 or older with limited income, have a permanent and total disability, receive social security or disability or reside in a nursing home. Additionally, the veteran must have served on active duty in the US military for 90 consecutive days. One full day must have been served during wartime (as defined by Congress). Clinical guidelines must be met, which include requiring assistance with the activities of daily living. Widows of eligible veterans can also apply for Aid and Attendance.
How do I apply?
For starters, you need to find your military discharge papers (DD-214 since 1950), or write to the VA to request them. You will need proof of your income and assets as well as proof of your unreimbursed medical expenses. Widows will need a marriage and a death certificate. You then fill out the appropriate VA application form, depending on your benefit category. Mail the application and required documents to the Pension Intake Center indicated for your state.
How much is the pension?
Veterans can receive as much as $2,050 per month. A widow may get up to $1318 per month. A healthy veteran with a sick spouse can qualify for up to $1608 per month. The amount a veteran receives is based on their financial situation.
How long does it take for approval?
The approval process is dependent upon the workload at the regional processing center –and the completeness of your application. It can take 9-12 months for approval, but the benefits are retroactive to the original filing date.
Who can help with the application process?
A veteran can reach out to their local Veteran Service Office for guidance with the application process. Alternately, attorneys and financial planners can assist with the application. I find Veteranaid.org has the most comprehensive website regarding the benefit and application process. Looking for more? Download a free copy of the Veterans Resource Guide.
One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to AskOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.
Brenda Lyle is a Certified Care Manager and Certified Dementia Practitioner with One Senior Place, Greater Orlando.