The VA’s Aid and Attendance pension is supplemental income for Veterans and their surviving spouses who qualify and who need assistance for daily living. Many Veterans are unsure if they are eligible since the rules changed.
In general, Veterans must have at least 90 consecutive days of active service. One of those days must be during a time of war but does not need to be in combat. Here are the specified dates for wartime:
- World War II: December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946
- Korean Conflict: June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955
- Vietnam Era, in the Republic of Vietnam: February 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975
- Vietnam Era, not in Vietnam: August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975
- Gulf War: August 2, 1990, until end date set by Presidential Proclamation or law
Gulf War veterans must serve 24 months or complete their active duty service.
Besides this service time requirement, there are discharge, income, and health requirements.
- Have an ‘other than dishonorable’ discharge
- Be eligible to receive a VA Pension
- Be below income and asset limits
- Meet health and clinical conditions
Veterans need to qualify for basic Veterans Pension and meet the clinical and financial requirements. The type of discharge is straightforward, but we’ll cover each of the other criteria separately.
Eligible to Receive a VA Pension
Since being eligible to receive a VA Pension is one of the requirements for receiving Aid and Attendance, below are those guidelines. Veterans must meet at least ONE condition:
- Be at least 65 years old with limited to no income.
- Have a permanent and total disability.
- Receive Supplemental Security Income.
- Receive Social Security Disability Insurance.
- Live in a nursing home.
Below Income and Asset Limits
In December 2018, the VA set up new guidelines for income and assets, to be more in line with Medicaid. Like Medicaid, the upper limit for any applicant’s net worth is $123,600. This amount is now indexed to inflation like Social Security increases.
This asset limit does not include the applicant’s automobile, personal effects, or residence, even if he or she lives in a nursing home.
The VA will look back three years before the application to check if any assets were disposed of by being gifted away or sold below market value. This action would be a problem if the applicant did so to reduce net worth below the $123,600 limit.
It used to be that if they found something, it could delay VA pension benefits. There was no penalty. That’s no longer the case. If the VA investigates and finds inappropriate transfers, the VA will determine a penalty period.
To determine the penalty period, the VA calculates the amount of money the applicant would have been over the income limit if the transfer had not occurred. The penalty will be in months based on this amount.
Penalties can be up to five years, with two exceptions. The up-to-five-year penalty does not apply in fraud cases or when the money was transferred to a child who is unable to provide ‘self-care.’
There is also an upper limit for countable income minus your expenses like unreimbursed medical bills, out-of-pocket prescription cost, Medicare, and private health insurance premiums. When determining countable income, they consider:
- CDs, annuities, stocks, bonds, savings, checking, IRAs, Keogh, etc.
- They count any assets owned by the spouse as well
- They do NOT count residence, vehicle, or any life insurance policies
Health and Clinical Conditions
You or your surviving spouse must meet ONE of these conditions:
- Bedridden except for medical treatments and therapy
- Severe visual impairment. This means eyesight corrected to 5/200 visual acuity or less in both eyes. Or reduced visual field five degrees or less.
- Reside in a nursing facility because of physical or mental incapacity. This includes Alzheimer’s and dementia.
- You require help with some daily activities. For example, bathing, dressing, eating, using the bathroom, and so forth.
2020 Aid and Attendance Rates
These are maximum benefit amounts a veteran or surviving spouse can receive for Basic Veterans and Survivor Pension plus Aid & Attendance.
- For single veteran without dependent child or parent: $22,938 per year ($1,912 / mo.)
- For a married veteran: $27,194 per year ($2,266 / mo.)
- For a surviving spouse: $14,761 per year ($1,230 / mo.)
We know that not everything is black and white. If you have questions and you want real answers from real Veterans who have been through the same, please reach out to us. Strategic Veteran is a free resource for all Veterans – give us a call today at 800-761-9004.