Aid & Attendance Benefit
A widely unknown pension for Veterans and their dependents is the Aid and Attendance Pension for those who served during war time. This benefit may pay for caregivers in the home, assisted living and nursing home facilities.
This is a complicated and lengthy process to obtain, but it may offer tremendous financial relief of up to $2,120 monthly for a Veteran and Spouse, or up to $1,149 for the surviving spouse of a Veteran.
General Criteria for Qualification
- The Veteran must have served in the US military at least with a minimum 90 days of active duty and only 1 of those days must have been in a qualified war period. There is no requirement for the Veteran to have participated in combat, nor are they required to have suffered a service related injury.
- The Veteran must have been honorably discharged.
- The Veteran must be 65 or older or disabled.
- The Veteran/Claimant must have a doctor’s order indicating the need for assistance of another person to perform daily tasks, such as eating, dressing, undressing, personal care, etc. Being blind, mentally challenged or physical incapacitated (including Alzheimer’s or other form of Dementia).
- Asset Limits – Less than $80,000 (not including 1st home and automobile).
- Income limits are between $20,000 – $23,000 after deducting costs for medical expense, and the costs of care (homecare, assisted living, or nursing homes).
- Annual medical expenses must exceed or reasonably be close to the annual gross income for the household. (This includes the costs of care givers, facilities, and other out of pocket expenses).
- Widows are also eligible as long as they were married to the Veteran for a year and have not remarried.
How Do I file?
To apply for the Aid & Attendance Improved Pension, you will need to gather several documents and then complete the forms. Though this is can be a challenging task, it can be well worth the effort.
Please gather the following documents. Having these documents ready will make the process much smoother.
- Discharge/Separation Papers (DD-214) Full instructions on how to request military records are listed on the site.
- Copy of Marriage Certificate and all marital information.
- Copy of the Death Certificate (surviving spouses only).
- Copy of current Social Security Award Letter (the letter that Social Security sends at the beginning of the year stating what your monthly amount will be for the following year).
- Net Worth information, including bank accounts, CDs, Trusts, Stocks, Bonds, Annuities, etc.
- Proof of all income from pensions, retirement, interest income from investments, annuities, etc.
- If you are a court-appointed guardian of the veteran or surviving spouse, a certified copy of the court order of the appointment is required.
- Proof of insurance premiums, medications, medical bills or any other medical expenses that are not reimbursed by insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.
- Physician statement that includes current diagnosis, medical status, prognosis, name and address, ability to care for self, ability to travel unattended, etc.
- Banking information for Direct Deposit of A&A monthly payments (include a voided check).
- Employment history (does not apply if you are over 65).
- List of all doctors and hospitals visited in the last year.
Once you have your information compiled, you will need to obtain and complete VA Form 21-527EZ and/or VA Form 21-534EZ for Special Improved benefits with Aid & Attendance. These forms can be downloaded in PDF format:
- http://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-527EZ-ARE.pdf (For Veterans – Instructions Included)
- http://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-534EZ-ARE.pdf (For Surviving Spouses – Instructions Included)
If you choose to file yourself, we suggest that you send your completed application with a “Return Receipt” to provide proof the application was received. Be sure to keep a copy of all forms correspondence with the VA, including applications, forms, etc.
Based upon your location you will need to send your forms to one of the VA processing centers. Sending to local or state VA offices will delay in processing time as they will need to forward it on to the correct Pension Center. Please see below for the processing center for KS and MO:
- Milwaukee Pension Maintenance Center Veterans Administration 5400 West National Avenue Milwaukee, WI 53214
- St. Paul Pension Maintenance Center Veterans Administration 1 Federal Drive, Fort Snelling St. Paul, MN 55111-4050
If you need assistance with filing your paperwork, you can contact the VA at 1-800-827-1000, however, because the pension is not well known, you may encounter someone who is not well versed on the benefit and may be challenged in assisting you. We encourage you to explore all the available options and services provided through the VA and other resources to find the option that best fits your need.
Things you need to know
- It is illegal for anyone to charge you to complete the application.
- Buyer Beware!!
- There are a growing number of companies who advertise on the web giving the appearance they are affiliated with the VA and are offering to “help”. Several of these are actually investment firms who then charge for a financial consultation.
- You may also find financial planners offering seminars looking for individuals who have too many assets to normally qualify. They are offer to move the assets into annuity products that don’t count as income. They are interested in commissions.
- You should always consult your Attorney and/or Financial Advisor prior to signing any contracts when it comes to the management of your assets.
- If you are considering reducing your asset base by “Gifting” to qualify for Veterans benefits, you need to be aware that the VA has no “Lookback Period”. Medicaid, however, has a 5 year “Lookback Period”. Gifting beyond Medicaid guidelines may impair your ability to receive Medicaid.
- It will take time. The normal processing time is 6-9 months, however, the clock starts ticking as soon as you submit your request. This means if you submit your filing in Jan, it may take until August before it is approved, but your benefit will be retroactive back to the time of your application.
These contents are is intended to be informational only and a source for the forms and resources needed to file. Formal guidance is available by calling the VA directly or your appointed Veteran Service Officer. If you don’t have one, you can contact your local Veteran Service Organization.