Veterans Aid & Attendance Benefits

Few seniors or their families are aware of financial benefits that are available to US military veterans in the form of the VA Improved Pension benefits. Veterans pensions are available to large numbers of seniors age 65 or older, or who have other non-service-connected disabilities, and are financially eligible. The rules consider seniors age 65 and older automatically "disabled" for purposes of pension benefit eligibility. Additional criteria can raise the veterans pension benefit above the basic independent pension if the veteran is "housebound" or in need of "aid and attendance" for certain activities of daily living.

VA pension benefits can make a huge difference in the ability of a veteran or surviving spouse to afford basic costs of living, in-home caregivers in order to be able to stay at home, or to afford to live in an assisted living facility of his or her choice.  Planning for eligibility for veterans pension benefits is similar to but often less complicated than the planning necessary for Medicaid eligibility. The worrisome concern is, however, that the simpler rules for VA pension benefit eligibility may entice seniors to carry out transactions without consulting a knowledgeable attorney, which may cause later Medicaid ineligibility if the veteran or surviving spouse requires Medicaid benefits within five years.

A&A Rules for Qualification

The War Veteran must have:

  • Served 90 consecutive days on active military duty
  • Received a better than dishonorable discharge
  • Served at least one (1) day of active duty during a war period.  (There is no requirement that any service be performed in a combat zone.)

The Surviving Spouse of a Veteran must:

  • Not have divorced the Veteran or remarried after the Veteran’s death

The Claimant (Veteran or Surviving Spouse):

  • Must be certified by a doctor as needing assistance with their daily living activities.

The Household:

  • Must have significantly less than $80,000 in Allowable Countable Assets (subject to the discretion of the VA.)
  • The Adjusted Household Income (Gross Household Income less all unreimbursed recurring medical expenses) must be less than the A&A benefit.

Maximum A&A Monthly Benefit for 2016

Married Veteran     
Single Veteran   
Surviving Spouse of Veteran 

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