VA Benefits for Widows of WWII Veterans
World War II was fought in Europe and the Pacific between the Axis powers (Germany, Italy and Japan) and the Allies (the United States, Great Britain and France). The war began in 1939 and ended in 1945. Over 12 million military personnel served during the war. The average duration of service was 33 months.
If you or a loved one are a surviving spouse of a World War II vet, you may be eligible for a special Veterans Administration benefit called Aid and Attendance to help pay for home or facility care. The pension pays up to $1,209 per month and is tax free. To qualify for the benefit the veteran must have served during the war, but not necessarily in a combat zone. Other requirements include needing help with daily living activities. You must also meet the VA’s income and asset criteria.
About VA Pensions
A VA pension is a monetary monthly benefit for qualified veterans and their spouses. If a surviving spouse is already receiving some other type of VA compensation like Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), the VA will pay the higher of the two benefit amounts. DIC is a benefit paid to survivors of servicemembers who died in the line of duty or whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease.
World War II Military Service Dates for VA Pensions
To qualify for a VA pension, the veteran must have served at least 90 days of active duty, with at least one day during an eligible period of war. Active duty is defined as full- time military service – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The eligible war dates for World War II veterans, including military personnel who served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines are December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946. There are also special WWll groups that qualify for VA benefits, such as the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), Guam Combat Patrol, and various U.S. civilian flight crew and aviation ground support employees of Transcontinental, Western Air, Pan American and Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corp (Convair). who served overseas in a contract with the Air Transport Command.
The VA uses the veteran’s official discharge papers (now called a DD-214) to verify wartime service. The discharge papers contain information related to the servicemember’s enlistment, including date of entry, military occupational specialty, years and months of active duty, and data concerning the veteran’s separation.
Aid and Attendance Age Requirements
A surviving spouse can apply for the Aid and Attendance benefit at any age.
Marriage Rules for the Aid and Attendance Benefit
There are various marriage requirements pertaining to the VA Aid and Attendance benefit. To start with, the spouse must have been married to the veteran for at least one year before their death. If a spouse divorced the veteran before he or she died, the spouse is not entitled to a VA pension like Aid and Attendance.
A spouse who was married to the veteran for less than a year, but also had a child with the veteran, can also file a claim for benefits.
If the spouse remarried on or after January 1, 1971 and the marriage was terminated by death or divorce before November 1, 1991, it is still possible to file a pension claim based on the service record of the veteran from the first marriage.
The VA recognizes common law marriages if all the common law marriage requirements were met in the state where the veteran lived. Since 2015, same-sex marriages are also recognized.
Need of Care
Another important qualification for the VA Aid and Attendance benefit is the claimant (surviving spouse) needing help with some of the activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, eating, toileting or transferring (mobility). This can include stand-by assistance, as well as reminders. It does not include medication management, meal preparation or transportation.
Bathing is any help at all with bathing, adjusting the water temperature or shower head, or simply being around while the person is taking a bath or shower in case help is needed.
Dressing is assistance with buttoning, zippering, putting clothes on or taking them off and even help picking out clothes.
Eating is helping a person eat or feeding them.
Toileting can include assistance walking to or from the bathroom, help with a bed pad or incontinence.
Transferring means moving from one place to another. It refers to any help that is needed to stand up or sit down, get in or out of a vehicle, or go up or down stairs.
The care can be provided by a family member, friend or professional caregiver. The person does not have to be licensed to help with personal care.
Pension Financial Criteria
When considering a claim for a surviving spouse Aid and Attendance benefit, the VA will review the applicant’s finances, including income and assets. There are many different and complex financial regulations that apply to VA pensions like Aid and Attendance. To find out more about Aid and Attendance financial criteria, contact a Benefit Consultant.
Paying for Long-term Care
The purpose of the Aid and Attendance benefit is to help a veteran or surviving spouse pay for long-term care, either at home, or in an assisted living or skilled nursing facility. The benefit can also be used as a reimbursement for board and care, adult day care and, in certain situations, independent living.
Many seniors want to remain in their own home as they age. The Aid and Attendance benefit can provide extra income to cover the cost of a home caregiver. The benefit can also reduce the financial burden of a board and care home or assisted living facility. If you or a loved one are the surviving spouse of a World War II veteran, you can find out more about how the benefit works from a Benefit Consultant, who can discuss the requirements and claim process in more detail.