Did you know that the Veterans Administration offers a Veterans’ Aid and Attendance Pension as a benefit to eligible retired military personnel and their spouses? The program, called the A&A Pension, provides a monthly benefit for veterans and their surviving spouses that require assistance with the activities of daily living (ADL), such as bathing, cooking, and eating.
In 2011, the benefit provides up to $1,632 monthly to a veteran, $1,055 to a surviving spouse, or $1,949 to a couple. There are three levels of the program, and the amount of the benefit is based on the level of assistance required. The highest level of benefits is awarded to those who require assistance with the activities of daily living, while the mid tier provides benefits for those who are housebound, but not as limited in their functions. The lowest level of benefits is provided for those who have “basic” needs. With this level, once a veteran reaches the age of 65, the Veterans Administration considers and classifies them permanently and totally disabled regardless of their physical condition.
To be eligible for the Veterans A&A Pension, veterans and/or spouses must:
- Have been a War-Time Veteran with 90 days of active duty. A “War-Time Veteran” is classified as having one day beginning or ending during a period of war. A surviving spouse may also apply.
- The veteran and/or spouse must meet medical and financial requirements.
- Medical requirements: Either must need the assistance of another individual to perform the activities of daily living. Those that are blind, in a nursing home, or in an assisted living facility, also qualify medically.
- Financial requirements: The applicant must have less than $80,000 in assets (bank accounts, stock, personal property, etc.) NOT including their home or car.
The A&A Pension program does not provide benefits for those already receiving disability compensation from the Veterans Administration. While the normal approval process takes 6-9 months, priority is given to applicants age 70 and up in the application process.
The Veterans’ Aid and Attendance benefit may not meet all your costs for care later in life, but it can play a valuable role in putting together a comprehensive incapacitation and estate plan. Talk with an estate planning attorney about establishing a plan that will meet your specific needs.