The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a little known tax free pension available to help qualified veterans, spouses and their surviving spouses pay for assisted living, home health care or nursing home care. The Non-Service Connected Disability Pension was established in 1952 under Title 38. For veterans or spouses of veterans this pension can be a life line to allow them to age with dignity and peace of mind all the while affording them to receive the care they need and deserve.
A component of this Non-Service Connected Disability Pension is termed "Aid & Attendance". The Aid & Attendance benefit provides for reimbursement of certain qualified, un-reimbursed medical expenses, usually involving long-term care in assisted living communities, in-home care, and in very limited instances independent living communities.
Aid & Attendance Awards
For 2017, the maximum Aid & Attendance increased pension benefit amounts are:
- Married Veteran: $2,127 per month
- Single Veteran: $1,794 per month
- Surviving Spouse (no dependents): $1,153 per month
These amounts are the maximum awards.
A veteran who is currently receiving Service Connected Disability compensation can still receive the Non-Service Connected Disability Pension with Aid & Attendance as long as the Disability Compensation is less than the Aid & Attendance Benefit. If eligible, the VA will grant the difference up to the maximum allowable under Aid & Attendance. However, if the Disability Compensation is greater than what the applicant is entitled to receive under Aid & Attendance then no more money is available.
Aid & Attendance benefits are paid directly to the applicant by the United States Treasury. Title 38 is a mandated law and must be funded by Congress every year. The benefit typically increases annually based on the Cost of Living Adjustment Index.
What Are The Qualifications for Aid & Attendance Pension Benefits?
In order to be considered, the applicant must be 65 or older/or unemployable.There are four criteria for qualifying for the Aid & Attendance benefit. All of these qualifications must be met to receive the Aid & Attendance benefit:
1) Military Service
This benefit is only available to veterans or their surviving spouses who meet the following military service history:
- An Honorable Discharge from a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces (including Coast Guard, Merchant Marines, WACS, WAVES, WAFS)
- At least 90 days of active duty military service
- At least 1 day of the 90 must have been during one of the following periods:
|World War I 04/16/1917 - 11/11/1918|
|World War II 12/07/1941 - 12/31/1946|
|Korea 06/27/1950 - 01/31/1955|
|Vietnam* 08/05/1964 - 05/07/1975|
|Persian Gulf War 08/02/1990 - TBD|
* For those veterans who served "in country" in Vietnam, the beginning date for qualifying service is 2/28/1961.
2) Medical Necessity
Medical Necessity means that the applicant has a medical diagnosis that is creating significant deficits in their ability to perform the Activities of Daily Living (ADL's) which include: bathing, dressing, eating, toileting and getting out of bed or chair.
3) Care Cost Compared to Monthly Income
Monthly Income is defined as money that is available to the applicant on a regular monthly basis. If the applicant is married, both incomes must be disclosed. Cost of Care is the cost of qualified monthly medical expenses.
Once the monthly Income and Cost of Care are determined, the Cost of Care should exceed the Monthly Income to receive the maximum benefit.
Many people believe their income is too great to qualify when often that is not the case.
4) Liquid Assets
Liquid assets are defined as financial instruments that can easily be converted to cash. Examples of liquid assets may include accounts such as Checking, Saving, IRA's/401k's, CD's, Mutual Funds, Stocks & Bonds etc.
Homes, real property and some items of personal property are considered Fixed Assets and might not be used in this calculation. Unfortunately, there is no "right" answer when it comes to how much you can have in liquid assets. The VA seems to be getting more conservative in its allowance for liquid assets since the passage of the Deficit Reduction Act.
Traditionally the VA takes into consideration three items when calculating acceptable amounts of liquid assets:
- The total amount of assets
- The rate of depletion (how much must be taken out of assets to make up the monthly difference in cost of care)
- Longevity based on VA actuarial tables
However, many people believe they have too great an asset base to qualify when often that is not the case. If you think you might be eligibile, consult a certified VA benefits counselor.
This article is provided Courtesy of US Senior Vets with permission to use only at AgingCare.com. US Senior Vets is a national 501(C)3 non-profit organization dedicated to assisting our nations senior veterans and their surviving spouses. US Senior Vets is not a government agency or part of the department of Veterans Affairs (VA).