QUALIFIYING FOR AID & ATTENDANCE BENEFITS
Who is eligible for the VA Aid & Attendance Pension? First let’s look at the basics. For a qualifying wartime veteran or surviving spouse to qualify for this special monthly pension, the veteran must have:
· Served at least 90 days of active military service
· Served at least one day during a period of war (WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan). The applicable periods are generally broader than expected.
· Been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable
· Wartime veterans who entered active duty on or after September 8, 1980, (for officers, October 16, 1981) must have completed at least 24 continuous months of military service, or served the time period they were ordered to active duty.
Once those criteria are met, a veteran could qualify for standard Aid & Attendance benefits or for Housebound benefits. (Veterans cannot receive both Aid & Attendance and Housebound benefits at the same time.) According to VA standards, veterans may be eligible for Aid & Attendance benefits if their medical needs fall in any of the following categories:
· They require the aid of another person in order to perform personal functions required in everyday living.
· They are bedridden, and their disability or disabilities requires them to remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment.
· They are a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity
· They are 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.
Veterans who do not qualify for Aid & Attendance may still qualify for Housebound benefits when:
· They have a single permanent disability evaluated as 100 percent disabling and, due to such disability, they are permanently and substantially confined to their immediate premises; or
· They have a single permanent disability evaluated as 100 percent disabling and another disability or disabilities evaluated as 60 percent or more disabling.
Determinations of a need are based on medical reports and findings by physicians or from hospitals or nursing homes. If the veteran is a patient in a nursing home or is blind or nearly blind, qualifying for benefits is almost automatic. In other cases, all of the disabling conditions in the list above are not required. The evidence simply must establish the veteran or spouse needs regular, scheduled, and ongoing, aid and attendance from someone else. Care on a 24-hour basis is not a requirement.
But those are simply rough guidelines. The application process, the quality of your documentation, and ultimately the VA will determine whether you or a loved one qualifies for benefits.
In Part 3, we’ll focus on getting expert help in this tricky legal area.