An Underutilized Veteran Benefit
Are you a Veteran? Hats off to you and thank you for your service. Some say it seems that USA does not help its veterans to the extent they should. Now, good news for those qualified veterans who are in great need of help with activities of daily living.
The “Aid and Attendance Program” (A&A) was designed as a pension intended to pay for personal care for qualified veterans with non-service-related illness and disabilities. To be eligible, a veteran needs to have served at least 90 days in the service, have at least one day served during wartime. Wartime veterans who entered active duty on or after 9/9/1980 must have completed at least 24 months of military service or the period for which they were ordered to active duty. A&A is available to the qualified veteran and his/her spouse who require regular attendance of another person to assist with activities of daily living and have un-reimbursed medical expenses. These people may be living at home, a resident of a nursing home, or even in an assisted living facility.
Eligible veterans who are under age 65 and on SSI may qualify. In addition, the (un-
remarried) widow, who was married at least one year, to a qualified veteran may also qualify.
The A&A Pension can provide up to $1758 monthly to a veteran, $1130 monthly to a surviving spouse, or $2085 monthly to a couple. This pension is tax free. Statistically, Chris Adams of Knight Ridder Newspapers states that 73% of eligible veterans who meet criteria are not receiving this pension.
The veteran and/or spouse must prove eligibility for the A&A pension. The application may be obtained from sources list in the last paragraph and will require a copy of DD- 214 or separation papers, medical evaluation from a physician, current medical issues, net worth limitations, and net income, along with out-of-pocket medical expenses.
It is important to know that you can have assets and income and still qualify for the A&A pension. In some cases a person may need to change the format of their assets and income to qualify, and in many cases this is and can be done. In fact, this presents a good time to review wills, trusts, and one’s estate.
A 1994 VA report used census and other data to estimate that 853,000 veterans and 1.1 million spouses, mostly widows, are eligible for A&A pensions but do not receive them. Among those likely to qualify, only 27% of veterans and 14% of their surviving spouses currently get money.
The A&A pension has been available for qualified veterans since 1952, however has not been promoted. Many people who apply are originally turned down, make some minor changes, reapply, and then are approved. So, if a person applies and are told no – “no may not really mean no”. That person should learn why the VA said they did not qualify and then they could analysis their situation, explore making changes and re-apply and possible awarded the pension. Be Persistent.