Veterans in need of assistance with daily living activities may be eligible to receive additional income for medical and other expenses through the Aid and Attendance (A & A) benefit. Aid and Attendance is part of the three-tiered Improved Pension program from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
It is available to wartime veterans, and their surviving spouses, who are eligible to receive a VA pension. Veterans under the age of 65 must be totally and permanently disabled to qualify. The VA pension is the basic component of the Improved Pension program. The Housebound and A & A benefits make up the remaining tiers and are paid on top of a monthly VA pension. Veterans or surviving spouses cannot receive the Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits simultaneously.
Qualifying for Aid and Attendance
To qualify, a veteran must meet one or more of several requirements for Aid and Attendance. They must either:
- Require assistance to accomplish at least some daily living functions, such as bathing, dressing, eating, adjusting prosthetic devices, using the bathroom and traveling away from home.
- Be bedridden except for any prescribed medical treatment.
- Be a resident in a nursing home as a result of mental or physical incapacitation.
- Be blind, or nearly so, meeting specified guidelines.
Veterans must also fall within certain financial limits to receive the A&A benefit; both countable income and net worth are considered in eligibility calculations. Nearly all forms of income are countable, and everything should be reported. Net worth includes the value of such assets as bank accounts, investments, and property that is not a main residence. Unreimbursed medical expenses in excess of 5 percent of countable income can be deducted from income calculations. Although award amounts may be lower due to income and net worth, the current maximum A&A benefits are as follows:
- $1,632 per month for the qualifying veteran
- $1,055 per month for a surviving spouse
- $1,949 per month for a couple
Applying for Aid and Attendance
Veterans should apply to the VA office where their claim for the VA pension was filed. If this location is unknown, any regional VA office can handle the request. The Aid and Attendance application request should include the VA pension application ― form 21-526 for veterans or 21-534 for surviving spouses ― form DD-214 showing military discharge or separation, and a detailed medical statement, preferably from a physician. The statement should cover relevant information regarding medical conditions and the level of self-care possible. It should also detail the individual’s ability to get around, daily activities and any trips away from home.
Copies of financial and other verifying records may also be required. Questions regarding financial eligibility or the application process for either the VA pension or Aid and Attendance benefits can be directed to the VA offices.