Determining eligibility for the Aid and Attendance pension benefit can be an intimidating task, particularly when it comes to income and asset restrictions. In this post I’ll try to shed some light on the subject in hopes that you may assess your own situation to better determine if you are eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit.
Each year Congress sets a limit on the amount of countable income a veteran may have to qualify for Aid and Attendance. As of December 1, 2011, the limits are as follows: $20,447 for a single veteran, $24,239 for a veteran with a spouse or dependent, $13,138 for a surviving spouse, and $15,672 for a surviving spouse with a dependent. Additional children add $2,039 each to the above limits. Go through the following steps to obtain your countable income and determine if you qualify.
Step 1: Total all of your income. Begin by adding up all of your income. This includes any money earned from working, retirement income, disability payments, interest and dividends, among other things. Public assistance is not included in this calculation; though it should be reported to the VA during the application process (they will exclude it from countable income).
Step 2: Determine your unreimbursed medical expenses. Unreimbursed medical payments are any moneys paid out of pocket for medical care. This includes standard health care costs as well as the costs associated with assisted living, prescriptions, diabetic supplies, insurance premiums, and anything else not covered by your health insurance plan.
Step 3: Calculate 5% of your Basic Pension MAPR. The Basic Pension maximum annual pension rate (MAPR) is also set by Congress each year. Currently, MAPR is $12,256 for a single veteran, $16,051 for a veteran with a spouse or dependent, $8,219 for a surviving spouse, and $10,759 for a surviving spouse with a dependent. Now take your MAPR and multiply it by 0.05 (5%).
Step 4: Subtract your 5% MAPR from your total unreimbursed medical expenses. Take the 5% MAPR that you calculated in Step 3 and deduct it from the total unreimbursed medical expenses calculated in Step 2. Call this your adjusted unreimbursed medical expenses.
Step 5: Subtract adjusted unreimbursed medical expenses from your total income. Finally, take the amount calculated in Step 4 and subtract it from your total income. This final amount is what the VA calls your countable income, and is what should be compared to the Aid and Attendance income limits to determine eligibility for the Aid and Attendance pension.