The Aid & Attendance Pension can bring considerable financial relief to elderly wartime veterans and surviving spouses who require care in the home or in a care facility.
Families pursuing this for a loved one can, however, encounter a plethora of confusing and misleading information. This too often prevents a successful outcome or causes them to give up before ever submitting a claim to the VA.
Without attempting to cover all the ins and outs or qualification factors in this article, I will clarify some common misconceptions.
My recommendation is to seek the help of an expert in navigating this process. To learn more details and see if you or a family member may qualify, contact one of our Benefit Consultants at 877-427-8065 or click here.
First a Story to Share
A daughter of a World War II veteran described what she went through in trying to obtain this benefit for her mother.
“I wish I knew seven years ago what I know now about obtaining VA benefits for a loved one. Having worked in Health Care my entire career I felt sure that I could wade through the maze of the VA bureaucracy. How wrong I was!
“Seven years later my family and I still do not have a positive outcome with the VA for spousal benefits for our now 92-year-old mother. I only wish I would have known to contact American Veterans Aid to handle the entire matter years earlier as now we are on our own with still no resolution and with no VA spousal benefits. At this late age there is a chance now our mother will never see those hard-earned benefits from our father’s years of service.
Hope this helps someone else. Nancy HL”
The good news is that with our hard-learned expertise, American Veterans Aid has helped thousands of wartime veterans and their spouses succeed in obtaining this benefit. We know how to do it right the first time and far more expediently.
1. Active Duty During Wartime
Some people have a misunderstanding that active duty means combat duty or that the person must have served overseas to qualify. This is not true (except for the early part of the Vietnam War, as covered below).
To be eligible for the Aid & Attendance pension, the veteran must have served 90 days of active duty with one of those days during war time. Active duty means that the veteran engaged in full-time military work throughout their service period. Active duty is different from the Reserves (or National Guard) which is part-time, not full-time military service.
The eligible war periods are:
- World War II (December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946)
- Korean Conflict (June 27, 1950, to January 31, 1955)
- Vietnam War era (November 1, 1955, to May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period. August 5, 1964, to May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served outside the Republic of Vietnam.)
- Gulf War (August 2, 1990, through a future date to be set by law or presidential proclamation)
Notice the exception above for the Vietnam War era. This means that if the veteran only served prior to August 5, 1964, he would have to have physically served in the Republic of Vietnam to be eligible. From August 5, 1964, on through to the end of the war on May 7, 1975, the veteran could have served anywhere, even if just in the U.S.
2. Pension Question
I often have family members tell me “I think that my father wouldn’t qualify for the Aid & Attendance benefit as he never received a pension.” Or “I figure my mother wouldn’t qualify as my dad never had a VA pension.”
Unfortunately, government programs can be complex, so I understand how people can get confused on this point. Yet too many mistakenly skip this program because they think that is an impasse.
The Aid & Attendance benefit is also known as the “enhanced monthly pension”. It is itself part of the pension. And a veteran or surviving widow can be approved for pension and the enhancement (add-on) of Aid & Attendance at the same time.
My advice in any case is to get an expert to help you with this process so you don’t get lost in technicalities or take wrong turns.
3. Divorced the Veteran or Remarried
Some families assume their mother would qualify for this benefit if she was married to their father for 10 years, even though the marriage ended in a divorce, or she later remarried to a non-wartime veteran. This is not correct. The Aid & Attendance benefit program works different than the Social Security system in this regard. The surviving spouse must have been married to the veteran when he passed and never remarried (with an exception that remarriage of surviving spouse terminated prior to Nov. 1, 1990). Divorce or remarriage terminates her eligibility for this program.
4. Activities of Daily Living
Frequently people figure that because they or their parent/relative needs assistance with cleaning, laundry, driving and medication management, they would qualify.
Those activities do not count as “activities of daily living” (or “ADLs”) for the purpose of this benefit.
A wartime veteran or surviving spouse must require the aid of another person with at least two of the following activities – this can include standby assistance or, in the case of dementia, supervision or reminding with two of these ADLs:
- Bathing or showering: such as needing physical assistance to bathe, needing a hand in getting in or out of the tub or shower, or standby assistance.
- Dressing: this includes requiring help with socks and shoes, getting a shirt on, picking out appropriate clothes to wear, reminding to change clothes.
- Eating: needing help with eating itself, not meal preparation or cooking; this can include reminding or direction on eating correct foods in the case of dementia.
- Mobility, also called “transferring” – trouble with ambulating, needing help to get in or out of a chair or bed, or needing standby assistance with mobility.
5. Avoid the Headache
All too often well-intentioned persons assume they can just send in a form to the VA, and it will be approved simply because the veteran concerned deserves the benefit due to his war time service. Later, they are dismayed to receive a denial or be awarded only a small portion of the benefit.
It is a complicated process. One must properly document the care, include all needed documentation, and dot the I’s and cross the t’s. You can avoid a lot of headaches by consulting with a specialist.
To learn more about qualifications and the application process, contact a Benefit Consultant today at 877-427-8065 or click here.