Hands holding an American flagThe Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit helps qualifying Veterans or their surviving spouses pay for in-home care or some form of assisted living/memory care in a retirement community.

As I work with families of Veterans, there are several pieces of misinformation that have prevented Veterans and/or their spouses from getting the Aid and Attendance Benefit they deserve!

First, let’s address who can qualify for the Veteran’s Aid and Attendance Benefit. Those who can qualify received an honorable discharge after serving 90 consecutive days of active duty, and one of those days was during war-time. This does NOT mean they had to serve overseas or saw action. This is a common misconception.

If they served one day of the 90 active duty during wartime, no matter where they were, they can qualify.  Dates of service include World War II (Dec 7, 1941 thru Dec 31, 1946), Korean Conflict (June 27, 1950 thru Jan 31, 1955) and Vietnam Era (Aug 5, 1964 thru May 7, 1975).

Spouses of Veterans can also receive the benefit. If they are currently married to, or are widowed from a Veteran, they can qualify provided they have not remarried. If a divorce from the Veteran occurred, the spouse cannot qualify.

Veterans, spouses of veterans or surviving spouses can be eligible for Aid and Attendance benefits if they meet the following disability requirements:

  • The aid of another person is needed in order to perform 2 or more personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, toileting, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting himself/herself from the hazards of his/her daily environment; or
  • The claimant is bedridden, in that his/her disability or disabilities require that he/she remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment; or
  • The claimant is in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity; or
  • The claimant is blind, or so nearly blind as to have corrected visual acuity of 5/200 or less, in both eyes, or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.

Another misconception is that you cannot qualify if you have more than $1500 in assets. It is true that there are limits to how much you can have in assets in order to qualify. However, what is not readily available in literature, is that there is planning you can do to protect your assets, so that you can qualify, no matter what your financial situation. Unlike Medicaid that has a 5-year look back period, the VA has NO look back. What this means is that you can do some planning and protect your assets so that you can qualify financially.

My advice to anyone interested in filing for the VA benefit, is to seek a trusted adviser or Elder Law Attorney who specializes in filing for the VA Aid and Attendance benefit. The biggest problem you’ll face is that if you try to do it on your own, or even with assistance from the VA, that you won’t know for months whether you filled everything out correctly. It’s definitely worth a conversation with a professional to ensure it’s done properly for a quicker and positive response! If it’s not done properly, you may be denied and then cannot undo the damage done.

I can help put you in touch with the right professional that will help you get the benefit you deserve!