VA Benefit for Surviving Spouses that Many Are Missing Out On


I’m astounded to encounter so many families who are unaware of a VA benefit for a mother or relative who is a surviving spouse of a wartime veteran.  It’s called the “Aid & Attendance Benefit”. It’s also referred to as the “Special Monthly Pension”.  Eligible surviving spouses can receive up to $1,318 a month ($15,816 annually), tax-free.  Essentially, the benefit helps to reimburse for the cost of caregiving in the home or in a private-pay care facility.

While there are qualification factors for sure, many who could be eligible for this benefit (also called a “pension”) either never heard of it or figured they would not qualify.  Numerous others have been misinformed, such as being told the veteran must have died in the war or been disabled by the war, or that this is only for assisted living and not home care, or that one must have very low income. None of which is true.

The benefit does exist and it can bring great financial relief for veterans’ widows in their senior years.  See below for more information on qualifications.

100-year-old Surviving Spouse of WWII Veteran Awarded Monthly VA Benefit

Here’s a recent example. Margaret will soon be celebrating her 101st birthday. Her husband, Horace served our country in the Asiatic theater in the Navy during World War II.  He died nearly 30 years ago. Up through her late 90s, Margaret was still living independently.  She used to go around and assist 80-year-olds residing in her senior living community. After reaching the age of 100, she started to slow down and require some assistance with bathing, dressing and mobility.  Her family helped her transition to assisted living. Fortunately, a friend there told her about this benefit. 

Without professional help, the benefit process can be a very long daunting process leading to failure. Margaret’s son-in-law, Richard, didn’t want to risk a denial nor undergo the potential headache and prolonged delays. So he researched and found American Veterans Aid – a team of professionals with a VA Accredited Claims Agent. With AVA’s expert consultation and assistance, Richard succeeded: Margaret received approval from the VA for the full benefit in less than 3 months after her claim was submitted.

Richard states, “American Veterans Aid was very helpful in getting my mother-in-law’s VA benefit. My 100 year old mother-in-law was so happy to have additional funds for her care. Blessings to all who were involved in the process.”

Her family reports that Margaret still has lots of life in her and is still quite bright.  They are relieved that with this monetary VA benefit she can continue with her own room in this facility that she likes.


One does not need to be a centenarian like Margaret to receive this benefit. While a veteran needs to be at least 65 to be eligible, there is no age requirement for a surviving spouse.  The benefit is however specifically designed for seniors who require long-term care (rather than short-term only care).

Some of the basic qualifications include:

The spouse was married to the veteran when he died and she never remarried.

She requires the regular aid or attendance of another with two of the activities of living, specifically: bathing, dressing, transferring/mobility, eating (not meal preparations) or toileting. When someone has dementia, if the person requires supervision with those activities that can also count. For instance, forgetting to eat, bathe or change one’s clothes is common for people with Alzheimer’s disease.

The cost of in-home care, assisted living, a board and care home, or a private-pay nursing home must be established and documented correctly.  Remember that this pension is basically a reimbursement program.  Even family members such as a son or daughter can be recognized as caregivers, if documented properly.

Where financial factors come in to play, it gets more complicated.  Income versus care expenses (not general living expenses) is a vital point that affects not only approval but the amount of pension the person is approved for.  Costs for caregiving in the home or in a care facility are subtracted in the income calculation. Rather than attempting to explain this qualification here, my advice is to consult with an Aid & Attendance benefit specialist who can clarify this for you in relation to the individual surviving spouse you are seeking this benefit for. (See below.)

The new net worth cap set by the VA for 2022 is $138,489. The house and car are exempt.  There are various asset components to take into account in the net worth calculation. So again I suggest consultation with a specialist. It is also important to know that the VA has a three-year look-back period on asset transfers. This means that they will look back at any asset transfers made during the 3 years before application for this benefit.

Women are Living Longer

Considering the rise in life expectancy statistics in the U.S. over the past century, the Aid & Attendance benefit is a real boon for aging war era veterans and surviving spouses.

Per the Social Security Administration, “The typical 65-year-old today will live to age 85.  About one out of every three 65-year-olds will live until at least age 90. About one out of seven 65-year-olds will live until at least age 95.”  LINK: Click to access EN-05-10529.pdf

Women tend to live 5 or even 10 years older than men. The U.S. has the highest number of centenarians in the world with the majority of those being women. As a side note, the oldest person ever to live in the U.S was Sarah DeRemer Knauss, a supercentenarian who lived to the age of 119 years and 97 days!

Clearly the Aid & Attendance benefit can bring significant financial relief and enhance the quality of life for war era veterans’ widows in their later years.

It’s similar to having long term care insurance without having to pay into it for years.

The Process – How to Succeed

The application process is quite complicated. One son I recently spoke to who attempted this on his own called it a “minefield”.

It is best to get help from a professional.

To find out more about the VA Aid & Attendance benefit for a war era veteran or their spouse, call 877-427-8065 to speak to one of our Benefit Consultants or click here.

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