Question: Does the Veterans Administration provide any benefits to receive assistance at home?
Answer: There is a benefit referred to as the improved Pension through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA), more commonly referred to as Aid and Attendance Pension. Assuming you meet the eligibility requirements, the VA permits payments to care givers (including family members, but not spouses) for care provided to the veteran and/or the spouse. There are three main requirements to qualifying for Aid and Attendance.
Qualifying: How to Get Aid and Attendance Approval
First, the claimant must have served at least 90 days active duty with one day served during wartime. There are specific wartime periods: World War I (April 6, 1917 – November 11, 1918); World War II (December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946); Korean conflict (June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955); Vietnam era (February 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975 for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period; otherwise August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975); or Gulf War (August 2, 1990 – through a future date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation). The claimant must have received a military discharge “other than dishonorable.”
Second, the claimant must be declared permanently and totally disabled. The definition for “permanently and total disability” is residing in a nursing home, total blindness, or so nearly blind or significantly disabled as to need or require the regular aid and attendance of another person to complete his or her daily activities. In most circumstances, if the claimant can show he or she requires assistance with at least two activities of daily living (i.e. bathing, dressing, ambulating), the disability requirement is satisfied.
Third, the claimant must meet the financial means test. Unfortunately, there is no set financial standard which can make it very difficult to ascertain if the claimant qualifies for the benefit. As a general rule, the claimant should not have more than $50,000.00 – $80,000.00 in net worth excluding the home of the claimant. However, the Veterans Administration may require a lesser net worth for older applicants. Additionally, the claimant must make a showing that his or her monthly unreimbursed medical expenses exceed his or her monthly income. When making this determination, the claimant should add up all of his or her monthly medical costs, including but not limited to the cost of services provided by professional caregivers as well as family members.
Maximum Benefits for this Program
Once all three prongs are satisfied, the veterans and/or spouse can receive this pension. The maximum benefit available for a single veteran in 2016 is $1,788.00 per month. A widow of a veteran is eligible for a maximum benefit of $1,149.00 per month in 2016. A married veteran is eligible for $2,120.00 per month in 2016. A veteran couple is eligible for $2,837.00 per month in 2016.
Currently there is an unofficial look- back period of one year, meaning applicants must establish eligibility one year prior to application. The application process can be lengthy, but the claimant can always seek assistance from a local accredited VA agency or through the United States Veteran’s Services Agency, Human Services Division. For legal advice regarding the Aid and Attendance Pension, consult with an experienced elder law attorney.