You may not be aware of this, but certain wartime veterans who have 90 days of active duty, one day of which began or ended during a period of war, is eligible for Veterans Aid & Attendance benefits. Surviving spouses who were married at the time of the veteran’s death may also be eligible. There are certain financial and medical qualifications that may apply. Here is what you need to know.
Medical qualifications for Veterans Aid & Attendance benefits
In order to qualify medically for Veterans Aid & Attendance benefits, the wartime Veteran or surviving spouse must require the recurring assistance of another person in performing daily tasks, including eating, dressing and undressing, etc. Eligible veterans or spouses who are blind, patients in nursing homes for mental or physical incapacity, and assisted living residents also qualify for these benefits.
Financial qualifications for Veterans Aid & Attendance benefits
Much like other types of government benefits, applicants for Veterans Aid & Attendance benefits can have no more than a certain value in assets excluding their residence and vehicles. The exact figure will depend on the age of the applicant, the nature of the assets and the costs of care.
Documents you will need when applying
When completing the Aid and Attendance Application, there are certain documents you will need to gather in addition to the documents the government requires you to complete. Here are examples of documents that you may need to have available:
- Discharge/Separation Papers (DD-214).
- Copy of Marriage Certificate and any other marital information.
- Copy of the Death Certificate (for surviving spouses only)
- Copy of current Social Security Award Letter
- Net Worth information
- Proof of income
- Proof of insurance premiums, medications, medical bills or any other medical expenses that are not reimbursed by insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.
- Court order of guardian appointment (if guardian of the veteran or surviving spouse)
- Physician statement regarding medical condition
- Nursing Home Status Statement
- Banking information for Direct Deposit of benefit payments
- Employment history (unless you are over 65)
- List of all doctors and hospitals visited in the last year.
This list is not exhaustive and will depend on the facts relating to each individual.
Required Veterans Aid & Attendance Forms
After you have gathered the required documents and information you will need, the next step is to complete the required forms to complete the application. You will need to obtain and complete certain VA designated forms which are available on the VA’s website or an attorney who specializes in VA planning. After completing the forms, they must be forwarded to the appropriate VA office for processing.
What happens after filing for Veterans Aid & Attendance?
Each person’s application is unique and can have its own set of issues. In addition to that, every processing center is not the same in that some are more efficient in handling claims than others. If any necessary information is missing from your application, that will also have an impact on how your application is processed. Typically, it takes between 8 and 10 months for applications to be processed. At that point, you will receive a determination letter. That is just an estimate. If you work with an experienced elder law attorney who is accredited by the VA, like attorney Tim Murphy, the time frame will likely be much shorter.
Requesting expedited processing for older applicants
If the person applying for Veterans Aid & Attendance benefits is age 90 or older, a request can be made to expedite the application process. In fact, the Veterans Administration’s regulations state that applications for benefits for a veteran or widow age 90 or older are to be given priority. This can be done by cover letter submitted with the application.
Requesting appointment as a fiduciary
In some cases, a loved one wishes to serve as the fiduciary for a veteran or surviving spouse. The Veterans Administration does not recognize powers of attorney or durable powers of attorney. In that situation, you can request to be appointed as fiduciary. To be approved the Veterans Administration must determine that you are someone reputable to handle the financial affairs of the applicant according to their guidelines.
Download our FREE estate planning checklist today! If you have questions regarding Veterans aid & attendance benefits, or any other estate planning issues, contact the Northern California Center for Estate Planning and Elder Law for a consultation, either online or by calling us at (916) 437-3500. Attorney Timothy P. Murphy is one of the few fully VA accredited attorneys in the greater Sacramento area.
If is a very good idea to meet with an accredited VA attorney before entering the VA application maze.