Aid and AttendanceUpdated: October 17, 2022
Veterans and survivors who receive a pension from the Department of Veterans Affairs may be eligible for additional Aid and Attendance benefits if they live in nursing homes or need in-home care with everyday activities.
Monthly Aid and Attendance payments supplement VA pension benefits for those who meet the basic qualifying criteria.
What Is the Difference Between Military Retirement Pay and a Veterans Pension?
Military retirement pay and VA pensions are not the same.
Military retirement pay is a taxable benefit, based on your years of service and your basic pay, according to USA.gov.
VA pension benefits are non-taxable and are based on wartime service and financial need.
Who Qualifies for a VA Pension?
Wartime veterans must meet age or disability and income requirements to qualify for a VA pension, according to the VA. They must not have received a dishonorable discharge, and their yearly family income and net worth must fall within limits, set by Congress annually. You can find the current rates and limits here.
You must also meet service requirements, which depend on when you started active duty, according to the VA:
- Before Sept. 8, 1980: You must have served at least 90 days on active duty with at least one day of wartime service.
- After Sept. 7, 1980: You must have served at least 24 months of active duty or the full period you were ordered to active duty (some exceptions apply), with at least one day of wartime service.
- After Oct. 16, 1981: You were an officer who hadn’t previously served on active duty for at least 24 months.
In addition, you must meet one or more of the following requirements:
- You are age 65 or older.
- You have a permanent and total disability
- You are a patient in a nursing home receiving long-term care for a disability.
- You receive Social Security disability or supplemental security benefits.
Who Qualifies for Aid and Attendance?
If you are eligible for a VA pension, you may also be eligible for Aid and Attendance. You must meet one of the following additional requirements, according to the VA:
- You need someone to help you perform daily tasks, such as feeding, bathing or dressing.
- You spend a large portion of the day in bed due to illness.
- You are a patient in a nursing home.
- Your eyesight is limited.
If you are eligible for Aid and Attendance based on one of these conditions, but your income disqualifies you from receiving a VA pension, you may still be eligible to receive both, according to the VA’s “Summary of VA Pension Benefits.” This is because Aid and Attendance allowances increase the pension amount.
You may also qualify for Housebound benefits. However, you can only receive either Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits, not both.
VA Housebound benefits pay a monthly allowance to VA pension-eligible veterans who spend most of their time in their homes because of a permanent disability, according to the VA.
This benefit is not automatic; you must apply for it.
How Much Does the VA Pay for Aid and Attendance Benefits?
If you qualify for VA pension and Aid and Attendance benefits, the VA calculates your benefits based on the difference between your countable income (what you earn, minus some expenses) and the maximum annual pension rate.
Visit the web pages below to view pension rate tables, including the Aid and Attendance and Housebound rates.
Asset and Income Limits
Applicants must meet a net worth limit of $138,489, effective Dec. 1, 2021 to Nov. 30, 2022. This will increase to $150,538, effective Dec. 1, 2022 to Nov. 30, 2023. Net worth includes income and the fair market value of your assets.
The VA implemented a three-year look-back period on Oct. 18, 2018. If you file a claim after that date, the VA looks to see if you sold assets below market value or gifted them to reduce your net worth below the upper eligibility limit.
The VA will not count certain assets toward your net worth and will deduct certain expenses from your income. These include:
- Unreimbursed medical expenses – deducted from your income
- Educational expenses – deducted from your income
- State and municipal veterans’ benefits – up to $5,000 per year is excluded
- Primary residence and lot (up to two acres) – not included as an asset even if you live in a nursing home, care facility or with a family member for care
How Do I Apply for Aid and Attendance Payments?
You must apply for Aid and Attendance benefits – they are not automatic. Read these FAQs to learn how it works.
Do I Need a Special Form to Apply for Aid and Attendance?
Use VA Form 21-2680, Examination for Housebound Status or Permanent Need for Regular Aid and Attendance to apply for Housebound or Aid and Attendance benefits. You’ll need a doctor to complete the form. Once completed, mail it to your state pension management center.
Do I Need to Submit Other Documentation With VA Form 21-2680?
Yes. You must submit supporting evidence, including any doctor’s reports or related findings that show you require assisted care or otherwise meet the criteria for Aid And Attendance or Housebound assistance programs.
Personal statements about daily activities, personal care and other routines should also be included. In your statement, describe how qualifying medical issues affect your abilities to do these things and your overall quality of life.
Other Documentation That May Be Required for Pension Benefits, Aid and Attendance
You must submit the following documentation to apply for any VA benefits, including VA pension, Housebound or Aid and Attendance programs:
- Social Security number
- VA file number (where applicable)
- Military history
- Personal financial information
- Employment history
- Direct deposit information (bank account numbers, routing numbers)
- Medical information
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
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