Serving in the United States armed forces demands great sacrifice. But for veterans who return to civilian life, there are myriad benefits.
Some veterans benefits are well-known and significant, such as the G.I. Bill to assist in paying for higher education. Others are common and more mundane, such as free or discounted tickets to many amusement parks and museums. Still others are hardly known at all. The Aid and Attendance benefit, which can help veterans and spouses pay for assisted living facilities, is one example. It is worth between $1,794 and $2,846 per month if all conditions are met.
What is the Aid and Attendance Benefit?
Aid and Attendance is one element of the Veterans Pension, a tax-free, monthly payment to low-income veterans of select wartime periods. To qualify for the Veterans Pension, a veteran must meet at least one of the following requirements, according to the Veterans Benefits Administration:
- Age 65 or older,
- Totally and permanently disabled,
- A patient in a nursing home receiving skilled nursing care,
- Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance,
- Receiving Supplemental Security Income
The person must have served at last 90 days of active duty with at least one day during one of these applicable wartime eras:
- World War II (December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946)
- Korean conflict (June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955)
- Vietnam era (February 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975 for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period; otherwise August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975)
- Gulf War (August 2, 1990 – through a future date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation)
How Much am I Eligible for?
Aid amounts are established on a particular formula that factors in income, net worth and an annual pension limit established by Congress. But that amount can increase if a veteran or surviving spouse meets criteria of the Aid and Attendance provision:
- You require the aid of another person in order 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
If a veteran qualifies for this increased benefit, the money may be used to defray the costs of in-home care or an assisted living facility. Surviving spouses also qualify, if the marriage ended due to the death of the veteran and not an earlier divorce. Even if the veteran is well but their spouse meets one of these conditions, there may be Aid and Attendance money available if the medical expenses eat up all of their income.
Applying for Aid and Attendance
The Veterans Benefit Administration says a veteran should mail an application to their regional Pension Management Center. In Michigan’s case, that office is in Wisconsin:
Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
Attention: Milwaukee Pension Center
PO. Box 5192
Janesville, WI 53547-5192
But applying is far more involved than simply sending a letter. According to VeteransAid.org, an extensive list of required documents includes:
- Form 21-527EZ (veteran) or Form 21-534EZ (spouse)
- Discharge papers (an honorable discharge is required to qualify for any pension benefit)
- Updated Social Security award letter
- Proof of income
- Net worth statement
- Physician statement detailing the impairment and need for assistance
- Proof of insurance premium
- List of all doctors and hospitals visited in the last year
- Banking information for direct deposit of payment
Depending on the situation, the application may also need a death certificate, marriage certificate, nursing home status statement or even employment history.
Applications typically take 6-8 months to be approved, but that can vary. Benefits are retroactive to the time of application.
Beyond Aid and Attendance is another level of the Veterans Pension, called Housebound. This is for veterans who are “substantially confined” to their living quarters “because of permanent disability.” The application process is similar, and if a person does not qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit, they may automatically receive the Homebound pension benefit.
Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
Contact us for your free consultation to discuss your situation and needs. We work with you to determine your options and maximize veterans benefits. Call 586-239-0871 or contact us online to schedule your appointment today.