The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Aid and Attendance Benefit is available in every state. It provides assistance for veterans and surviving spouses who meet certain income, asset and diagnostic criteria. The Benefit helps pay for personal care for individuals with mental or physical incapacities. Services can be provided in your home, an assisted living facility or a nursing home.
Aid and Attendance (A&A) is an increased monthly pension amount paid if your loved one meets one of the following criteria:
- Needs help with activities of daily living, such as bathing, eating or dressing
- Is bedridden
- Resides in a nursing home
- Has eyesight limited to a corrected 5/200 visual acuity or less in both eyes
Housebound is an increased monthly pension amount paid if your loved one cannot leave the home (or assisted living or nursing facility) because of a permanent disability.
To receive the maximum benefit, your loved one must need care now and already be receiving care services when you apply.
Your benefit amount is determined based on your income and your out-of-pocket medical costs. All benefits are tax-free and may be combined with other benefits and programs. However, if your loved one receives Medicaid services, applying for the VA Benefit may have an impact on his or her Medicaid status.
The basic eligibility requirements are as follows:
- The veteran must have served at least 90 days active duty. (Exceptions may apply for those who did not serve in active duty.)
- The veteran must have served one day during a time of war and must not have been dishonorably discharged.
- A widow must be over age 65 and have been married to the veteran at the time of the veteran’s death.
You must prove eligibility by filing the proper Veterans Application for Pension and providing supporting documents.
Each VA medical center has Caregiver Support Coordinators to help you with the application process. The VA also offers a free online workshop for caregivers, as well as hints and advice from others who care for veterans. To find more information, call the VA Caregiver Support Line at 1.855.260.3274 or visit www.caregiver.va.gov.
Federal law prohibits attorneys and others from charging a fee to assist with the VA application. The Aid and Attendance application approval process may take 4-6 months. If approved, benefits are paid retroactively to the month after the application was filed.
For more information on the the different benefit programs and care options for your loved one, visit the VA website.
NOTE: As of March 2015, the VA requires the use of standard claim and appeal forms. Those forms will be available on the VA website.
VA Health Care for Elderly Veterans
In addition to the Aid and Attendance Benefit, your loved one may be eligible for VA Health Benefits, including all necessary inpatient hospital care and outpatient services. Specifically, geriatrics is health care for older veterans with complex needs. Extended Care – also known as long-term care – is a program for veterans of all ages who need daily support and assistance. Older veterans can receive geriatric and long-term care programs at home, at VA medical centers or in the community.
Service members, veterans and families can apply for various VA benefits using one of the following methods.
- Apply online using eBenefits.
- Work with an accredited representative or agent.
- Meet with a VA Center Support Coordinator.
Parkinson’s Disease and Agent Orange
Veterans who develop Parkinson’s disease and were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service do not have to prove a connection between their disease and service to be eligible to receive VA health care (including a free Agent Orange registry health exam) and disability compensation. If your loved one served in Vietnam, the Korean demilitarized zone or another area where Agent Orange was sprayed, visit the VA site for more information on the health effects of Agent Orange, eligibility for services, and survivor benefits.