Aid and Attendance is an important Veterans Administration elder care benefit that can help a veteran or spouse pay for in-home or facility care. Benefit amounts range from $1,244 per month for a surviving spouse, $1936 per month for a single veteran, $2,295 per month for a married veteran, and $3,071 per month for two married veterans. The benefit is tax-free and does not need to be paid back.
Elder care covers a broad range of personal and health care services that senior veterans and spouses may need as they grow older. The VA Aid and Attendance benefit is a special type of elder care benefit for veterans and spouse who need help with some of the activities of daily living (ADLs), including:
- Mobility – sitting, standing or walking; help up and down stairs, in and out of a vehicle.
- Bathing – bathing, showering, grooming, assistance adjusting the shower head or the water temperature; reminders to bathe.
- Dressing – getting dressed or undressed; help with buttoning, zippering, tying shoes or getting clothes out of a closet, reminders to change clothes, help picking out clothes.
- Toileting – getting to or from the toileting, also includes help with incontinence.
- Eating – cutting up food, feeding; reminders to eat or eat healthy.
The care can be provided at home, or at a care facility such as adult day care, board and care, assisted living or skilled nursing.
Home care can be provided by a family member, friend or professional caregiver. The person does not need to be licensed.
Adult day care centers provide various activities for seniors who need supervised care during the day, including social, therapeutic and health services.
A board and care home is a residential care facility for seniors who need ADL assistance. Board and care homes typically have between 8 to 12 residents with 24-hour staffing.
Assisted Living Facilities are larger care facilities that provide housing, social activities and personal care for residents. The purpose of an assisted living facility is to help a person live as independently as possible in a safe environment.
Skilled nursing facilities are residences for individuals who need medical care in addition to ADL assistance. Skilled nursing facilities will have registered and licensed nurses on staff, as well as certified nurse’s aides.
A key requirement for the Aid and Attendance benefit is wartime service. Here are the eligible periods of war as defined by Congress:
World War II: December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946
Korean Conflict: June 27, 1950 to January 31, 1955
Vietnam Era: February 28, 1961 to August 4, 1964 for veterans who served in Vietnam (boots on the ground) or on a ship of the coast of Vietnam, and August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975 for veterans who served in Vietnam, on a ship off the coast of Vietnam, or anyplace else in the world.
Gulf War: August 2, 1990 to a date that will eventually be set by law or presidential proclamation.
In addition, the veteran must have:
- Started on active duty before September 8, 1980, and served at least 90 days of active duty with at least 1 day during wartime, or
- Started on active duty as an enlisted person after September 7, 1980, and served at least 24 months or the full period, and called or ordered to active duty (with some exceptions) with at least 1 day during wartime, or
- Were an officer and started on active duty after October 16, 1981, and hadn’t previously served on active duty for at least 24 months
The veteran must also have received an honorable or other than dishonorable discharge. An Aid and Attendance claim must include evidence of wartime service.
Other Aid and Attendance Benefit Requirements
In addition to wartime service, the veteran:
- Must be at least 65 years of age or older (spouses can be any age)
- Meet the VA’s income and asset criteria
A veteran under 65 years of age can apply for the benefit if they are:
- Totally or permanently disabled, or
- A patient in a nursing home for long-term care due to disability, or
- Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance of Supplemental Security Income
The surviving spouse of a veteran can also receive the Aid and Attendance benefit if he or she was married to the veteran for at least a year before his or her passing.
The VA will recognize a marriage if the marriage was recognized according to the laws of the place where at least one of the parties resided when they were married, or when the person applying for benefits became eligible for the benefit. The VA also recognizes same-sex marriages without regard to a Veteran’s state of residence.
If a spouse remarried to a non-veteran after the veteran passed, he or she would only be eligible for benefits if they divorced the second spouse or the second spouse passed away between January 1, 1971 and November 1, 1990.
Having served during a wartime period does not guarantee that an Aid and Attendance claim will be approved. The veteran or spouse must meet all the additional requirements to fully qualify for the benefit, including the VA’s income and asset criteria.
Many people who apply for Aid and Attendance on their own find the claim process extremely difficult to get through due to the complexity of the paperwork and many other factors that can result in lengthy application processing delays and denials.