The Aid and Attendance (A&A) Pension provides benefits for veterans and surviving spouses who require the regular attendance of another person to assist in eating, bathing, dressing and undressing or taking care of the needs of nature. It also includes individuals who are blind or a patient in a nursing home because of mental or physical incapacity. Assisted care in an assisting living facility also qualifies.
To qualify for A&A it needs to be established by your physician that you require daily assistance by others to dress, undress, bathing, cooking, eating, taking on or off of prosthetics, leave home etc. You DO NOT have to require assistance with all of these. There simply needs to be adequate medical evidence that you cannot function completely on your own.
The A&A Pension can provide up to $1,788 per month to a veteran, $1,149 per month to a surviving spouse, or $2,120 per month to a couple*.
A Veteran filing with a Sick Spouse is eligible for up to $1,406 per month*. Many families overlook the A&A Pension as it pertains to veterans who are still independent, but have an ill spouse. Keep in mind that in this situation, if the spouse's medical expenses completely depletes their combined monthly income, the Veteran can file as a Veteran with a sick spouse.
Eligibility must be proven by filing the proper Veterans Application for Pension or Compensation. Form 21-534EZ for surviving spouse (Instructions Included). Form 21-527EZ Veteran (Instructions Included). This application will require a copy of DD-214 (see below for more information) or separation papers, Medical Evaluation from a physician, current medical issues, net worth limitations, and net income, along with out-of-pocket Medical Expenses.
A DD-214 is issued to military members upon separation from active service. DD-214s were issued to separated service members beginning in the 1950's. The term "DD-214" is often used generically to mean "separation papers" or "discharge papers", no matter what form number was used to document active duty military service. If the VA has a copy of a DD-214, it is usually because the veteran attached a copy (or sometimes, the original) to his or her application for disability or education benefits. If you've lost your original DD-214 or a copy and you are receiving (or applied for in the past) disability or education benefits from the VA, they may have a copy (or the original, if you gave it to them) on file. At the very least, if you are currently receiving benefits (or did in the past), they should be able to provide a Statement of Service, which can be used instead of a "DD-214".
Before January 1, 1950, several similar forms were used by the military services upon discharge, including the WD AGO 53, WD AGO 55, WD AGO 53-55, NAVPERS 553, NAVMC 78PD, and the NAVCG 553 as discharge papers. All of these are acceptable to the VA for making application.
To request a copy of a DD-214 visit www.vetrec.archives.gov.
ELIGIBILITY FOR THE AID & ATTENDANCE PENSION
Any War-Time Veteran with 90 days of active duty, 1 day beginning or ending during a period of War, is eligible to apply for the Aid & Attendance Improved Pension. A surviving spouse (marriage must have ended due to death of veteran) of a War-Time Veteran may also apply. The individual applying must qualify both medically and financially. To see the periods of war that have been qualified by Congress, Click Here.
To qualify medically, a War-Time Veteran or surviving spouse must need the assistance of another person to perform daily tasks, such as eating, dressing, undressing, taking care of the needs of nature, etc. Being blind or in a nursing home for mental or physical incapacity, or residing in an assisted living facility also qualifies.
Eligibility must be proven by filing the proper Veterans Application for Pension or Compensation. This application will require a copy of DD-214 (see below for more information) or separation papers, Medical Evaluation from a physician, current medical issues, net worth limitations, and net income, along with out-of-pocket Medical Expenses.
To qualify financially, an applicant must have on average less than $80,000 in assets, EXCLUDING their home and vehicles.
HOW TO APPLY FOR THE AID & ATTENDANCE IMPROVED PENSION
There is much information that needs to be gathered and prepared when applying for the Aid & Attendance Improved Pension. We have compiled a list of the documents you will need, as well as links to download some of the VA and Government Forms that you will need. While it may seem to be a daunting task, we recommend that you read through this site to better your understanding of the application process to be prepared before you speak with any Veterans' Affairs Office.
To apply for the Aid & Attendance Improved Pension, you will need the following documents. Prepare these before making your filing.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING FILING
It is hard to speculate on what you will experience while filing for the Aid & Attendance Pension. Each case is unique and carries its own set of challenges. It will also depend on which processing center will be handling the claim. For unknown reasons, some centers do a more efficient job than others. How complete the application package is will also impact the process.
One thing you can expect is that it will take between 8-10 months on average for your application to be processed and to receive a determination letter. Due to the current backlog of claims to be processed this timeframe can be much longer.
Many families can't afford to pay for care while waiting for the pension to be approved and funds to be released, which places an additional burden. Some Assisted Living Facilities will work with you if they know the resident qualifies for A&A. Fortunately, all benefits are retro-dated back to the original filing date.
If you or your loved one is 90 or older, you should request the application process be expedited. The VA's own law states that applications for benefits for a veteran/widow 90 or older are to be given priority. It is advised that you include a cover letter with the application noting this request.