How Do I Apply for VA Aid and Attendance Pension?
The VA Aid and Attendance Pension provides financial assistance to qualifying veterans and their spouses. Find out if you qualify based on the date and duration of your service, your financial situation and your need for care.
If you’re exploring Senior Care options and you or your spouse is a veteran, you might qualify for benefits that can go a long way toward helping you pay your monthly bills. The VA Aid and Attendance Pension (A&A) provides financial assistance to veterans who qualify. Although this program has been in existence for around 70 years, not everyone knows about it, and it’s considered to be one of the more underutilized benefits available to veterans and their spouses. There’s no reason not to avail yourself of this benefit if you qualify, so submit your application!
There are many benefits of A&A. You’ll be able to afford the care you need; the payments are tax-free and never have to be paid back and the benefits can be used for in-home care or to augment payments if you’re in an Assisted Living Community. In this article, we are going to take you through the basics of A&A and point you in the right direction to learn more and begin the process of filling out the necessary paperwork.
VA Aid and Attendance Requirements
There are three main factors determining whether or not you are eligible for A&A:
The Date and Duration of Your Military Service
You must have received an honorable discharge from the military. If that’s the case, the next step is meeting the requirements, which vary depending on when you served.
If your active duty commenced prior to Sept. 8th, 1980, you need to have served at least 90 days, including a minimum of one day during active wartime. Please know this doesn’t mean you have to have served in combat; only that you were on active duty, even Stateside, during wartime.
If your active duty commenced after Sept. 7th, 1980, the requirements are military service of at least two years, including a minimum of one day during active wartime.
Your Financial Situation
In reviewing your application for VA Aid and Attendance Pension, the VA will take a look at your yearly income, your net worth, and assets. Your home, car, and appliances are NOT considered to be part of your net worth. The VA is interested in what is known as “countable income,” e.g., Social Security, pension, investment assets, etc. This is balanced against a limit set by Congress called the Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR).
With this in mind, there are two frequently asked questions when determining financial eligibility. Let’s put them into perspective:
Q: What is the VA Aid and Attendance Income Limit?
A: While this amount changes annually, it is the combination of you and your spouse’s assets and annual income. The best question to ask is the limit on net worth, which the VA has defined as $138,489 from December 1, 2021, to November 30, 2022.
Q: What is the Asset Limit for Aid and Attendance?
There is no defined limit on assets, but you are required to state what your assets are and how they coordinate with your annual income. As explained by the VA, “assets include the fair market value of all your real and personal property, minus the amount of any mortgages you may have.” This could include investments or furniture but would not include basic appliances or your primary residence.
The key: You will need to have a combined amount of assets and annual income that determines your net worth to be under the annual limit ($138,489.) You can learn more about the process and view a VA Aid and Attendance Fact sheet on income by visiting the VA resource for pension rates.
What Type of Care Do You Require?
You must demonstrate a need for ongoing care, i.e., the assistance of another person to help you perform some of the daily activities of living. If you’re over 65, living in a long-term care community and have a permanent disability, you’ll often quality for A&A.
How to Get Aid and Attendance Approval
You know from life experience that there’s always a form(s) to fill out, no matter what you’re applying for! This is certainly the case with A&A, and while the paperwork might seem a bit daunting and it’ll take you a little time to gather all the materials you need, the process is actually quite straightforward.
What Documents Do I Need to Apply for VA Aid and Attendance Pension?
The first thing you’ll need is a copy of your DD-214, aka discharge papers. If you don’t have a copy, your local VA can provide one for you. If you’re married, you’ll need a copy of the marriage certificate. Surviving spouses will be required to provide a death certificate of the veteran.
You’ll also need to provide your:
- Social Security number
- Work history
- Financial assets information
- Bank account number (if you’d like to receive direct deposit payments)
- Medical history for you and/or your spouse
- Proof of insurance premiums
- Proof of unreimbursed medical expenses
Additionally, there’s a form your physician will have to complete. This is called Form 21-2680, and you can download it from the VA website.
Once you have gathered all the necessary documentation and information, you can submit an “Intent to File” form, which is also available for download on the VA website. This is an important early step, as it establishes the exact date on which you began the process of applying for this benefit.
If you have a trusted financial advisor such as a fiduciary, you might want to enlist their services, just to make sure everything is done properly. (You’ll be handing over a lot of sensitive personal financial information, so you want to make sure that anyone who gets involved is someone you completely trust.)
Who Determines If I Qualify for This Benefit?
The VA is the sole arbiter when it comes to deciding if one qualifies for the VA Aid and Attendance Pension. Even if you’re skeptical about whether you’re eligible or you’re not sure, it doesn’t hurt at all to fill out the necessary forms and give it a try.
LEARN MORE: A Guide to VA Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit
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Talk with a Senior Living Professional
VA Aid and Attendance Pension benefits can be difficult to navigate and you or your loved one may rely on them for living assistance. Referah counselors can help with the process, providing information and resources to make good decisions. We are also here to provide you with support, care, and enjoyment in a wide variety of communities across the country. Talk with us today about VA assistance and finding a community that meets your needs.