To qualify for the VA Aid and Attendance benefit, the military veteran or a surviving spouse must have a financial need, have been honorably discharged, plus have a disability or require help with certain daily activities. In addition, they must have served during the Mexican Border period, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, or the Gulf Wars.
How Does VA Aid And Attendance Work?
The Veteran’s Administration’s Aid And Attendance benefits (also known as Housebound benefits) gives an additional monthly income to financially needy military vets who also are housebound, disabled, or who need someone to assist them with ADLs (activities of daily living).
This monthly benefit is provided in addition to a basic monthly VA pension, if you are already receiving one.
It’s sad but true – the VA estimates that about 25 percent of veterans qualify, but many don’t even know the program exists. In fact, only about 5 percent of eligible vets are enrolled in the program. You could be missing out!
In the next section, I’ll go into more detail about how to qualify for this benefit, but meanwhile, if you or your military veteran family member struggle with financial concerns and also with day to day activities, such as getting dressed, bathing, eating or toileting, this benefit could help immensely.
I’m not going to sugar-coat it, though – there is some paperwork involved and a lot of proof that you’ll need to gather before submitting your application. The tax-free benefit, however, ranges between $1200 (surviving spouse) to $1880 (veteran). so it is very worth jumping through these hoops to obtain it.
How Do I Qualify For VA Aid And Attendance Benefits?
In order to qualify for VA Aid and Attendance benefits, you have to meet the criteria in several categories:
According to the Veteran’s Administration website, “You may be eligible for the Veterans Pension program if you meet the requirements listed below.
Both of these must be true:
- You didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge, and
- Your yearly family income and net worth meet certain limits set by Congress. Your net worth includes all personal property you own (except your house, your car, and most home furnishings), minus any debt you owe. Your net worth includes the net worth of your spouse.
And at least one of these must be true about your service. You:
- Started on active duty before September 8, 1980, and you served at least 90 days on active duty with at least 1 day during wartime, or
- Started on active duty as an enlisted person after September 7, 1980, and served at least 24 months or the full period for which you were called or ordered to active duty (with some exceptions) with at least 1 day during wartime, or
- Were an officer and started on active duty after October 16, 1981, and you hadn’t previously served on active duty for at least 24 months
And at least one of these must be true. You:
- Are at least 65 years old, or
- Have a permanent and total disability, or
- Are a patient in a nursing home for long-term care because of a disability, or
- Are getting Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income”
There are also certain wartime dates during which you must have served, in order to qualify:
The V.A. states, “Under current law, we recognize the following wartime periods to decide eligibility for VA pension benefits:
- Mexican Border period (May 9, 1916, to April 5, 1917, for Veterans who served in Mexico, on its borders, or in adjacent waters)
- World War I (April 6, 1917, to November 11, 1918)
- World War II (December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946)
- Korean conflict (June 27, 1950, to January 31, 1955)
- Vietnam War era (February 28, 1961, to May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period. August 5, 1964, to May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served outside the Republic of Vietnam.)
- Gulf War (August 2, 1990, through a future date to be set by law or presidential proclamation)”
IMPORTANT: surviving spouses who have not remarried may also qualify for benefits. Be sure to pass this info to a senior parent or elderly loved one if they are/were married to a military veteran who may have qualified.
How To Apply For V. A. Aid And Attendance Benefits
The Veteran’s Administration has the application and step by step instructions on their website (click here). You start the process by creating a free, online account. After you’ve done that, they estimate that it will take about 25 minutes to complete the application.
You can get help from an accredited representative if you have trouble filling out the forms (click here for help). Lastly, you’ll need to gather supporting info, such as medical information and bank account information
They also have a speedier pension claim process, called the Fully Developed Claim (FDC) program. It’s no risk to you and is touted as “the fastest way to get your VA claim processed).
You can learn more about the FCD program by clicking here.
Frequently Asked Questions About The VA Aid And Attendance Benefit
How long does it take to get VA Aid and Attendance benefits?
Like anything, the wheels of government bureaucracy often turn slowly.
It usually takes six to eight months for an applicant to hear back about their status, but it can take upwards of a year or more in some cases.
The good thing about this is that the benefit is retroactive, so if you do qualify and are granted the Aid and Attendance benefit, you’ll get not only the monthly amount they have determined, you’ll get the money from all the months between your application submission and the V.A.’s decision date.
What can VA Aid and Attendance money be used for?
The VA Aid and attendance can be any way you want. For example, it could be used towards things like long-term care, assisted living, medical expenses or in-home assistance and health care. You can even use it to pay a family caregiver to provide assistance to you.
The items and services you spend the benefit on aren’t limited to strictly medical payments either. Instead, you could use the money to buy food or clothing, to pay for transportation, or for bills and housing.