As a veteran, or the surviving spouse of a veteran, you likely know about some of the more common benefits available to you through the Veterans Administration (VA). You are probably also aware of the complex maize that must often be navigated to get approved for the benefits to which you are entitled. What you may not know is that you could be entitled to benefits from the “Veterans Aid and Attendance (VA&A)” program. For veterans and/or survivors living on a fixed income, the additional benefits available through the VA&A program can make a significant difference. With that in mind, the Los Angeles estate planning attorneys at Schomer Law Group, APC explain what you need to know about Veterans Aid and Attendance benefits.
Eligibility Guidelines for Veterans Aid & Attendance
As a veteran, or survivor, who is eligible for a VA pension you may qualify for Veteran’s Aid and Attendance benefits if you require the “aid and attendance” of another person on a regular basis.
To be eligible for VA&A benefits, the following must apply:
- You must be eligible for pension or, if you are a surviving spouse, you must be eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, or DIC.
- In addition, one of the following must apply:
- You require the aid of another person to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting yourself from the hazards of your daily environment.
- You are bedridden, in that your disability or disabilities requires that you remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment.
- You are a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity
- Your eyesight is limited to a corrected 5/200 visual acuity or less in both eyes; or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.
- You must be at least 65 or officially disabled if younger.
- If you are a veteran, you must be considered a “wartime veteran” meaning you served at least 90 days and served at least 1 day during the wartime dates below, but not necessarily in combat.
- World War II: Dec 7, 1941 – Dec 31, 1946
- Korean War: Jun 27, 1950 – Jan 31, 1955
- Vietnam War: Aug 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975 (or Feb 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served in Vietnam)
- Gulf War: Aug 2, 1990 – Undetermined
- You, or your spouse if applying as a survivor, cannot have been dishonorably discharged.
- You are not required to be disabled; however, a higher benefit is available to those who are disabled.
- If you are a surviving spouse, you must have been living with the veteran at the time of their death and must be single at time of claim.
- You must not exceed the current income limit which is subject to change each year.
Eligibility for Housebound Benefits
Housebound benefits are similar to Aid and Attendance benefits but require a beneficiary to be substantially confined to his or her immediate premises because of a permanent disability. Typically, you will be required to provide supporting documentation, such as a report from your attending physician or a report from a long-term care facility, indicating that you suffer from a physical and/or mental impairment to the extent that you need assistance from someone outside your home to be able to complete these simple daily tasks.
Applying for Veterans Aid & Attendance Benefits
To apply for VA&A benefits you can write to the Pension Management Center (PMC) serving your state, the address for which can be located on the VA website. You can also apply by visiting your local regional benefit office. You can find links to the websites for each regional benefit office for the State of California on the VA website as well.
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