What is the VA Aid and Attendance Benefit program?

A fellow caregiver asked...

What is the VA Aid & Attendance Benefit program? I called the VA directly for information and was told there is no such benefit.

Expert Answer

Rita Files, LPN, VSR, a nationally recognized expert on the elderly, has more than 30 years of experience in the health care industry, with 20 years focused on eldercare. She has developed programs for many leading providers in the senior living industry. Accredited through the V.A. in veterans' benefits, she is an advocate and powerful resource committed to educating veterans and their families about the nonservice connected pension benefit and providing them with accurate information. She is cofounder and COO of Aging with Grace.

Unfortunately this is a common response. The VA Aid & Attendance benefit program is a descriptor commonly used in the civilian arena when providing information about the VA Non-Service Connected Pension. "Aid & attendance" is actually one tier of a three tiered benefit known in the VA system as VA Pension or Disability Pension. Over the course of years, the VA Pension took on the name Aid & Attendance causing much confusion especially when contacting the VA directly. Often VA personnel will tell a caller "there is no such benefit," and technically they are correct, especially if they are not familiar with the scope of VA Pension.

The VA Pension benefit, which is not dependent upon service-related injuries, allows Veterans and surviving spouses that are low income or have high out of pocket monthly medical expense to receive additional monetary benefits.

To be eligible, the veteran must have served a minimum of 90 days of active military service 1 day of which was during a wartime period and have been discharged from service under conditions other than dishonorable.

The 3 tiers of VA Pension are:

  1. Basic Pension "“ paid to veterans age 65 or older, or, if under 65, are permanently and totally disabled and surviving spouses with countable family income below the yearly limit set by law or those who have no income.

  2. Housebound "“ additional benefit amount paid in addition to basic pension when a claimant is substantially confined to a premise and dependent upon others to get around. If the claimant does not drive, this would be a key indicator for eligibility.

  3. Aid & Attendance "“ additional benefit amount paid in addition to basic pension when the claimant can no longer manage the functions of day to day living. Factors such as not being able to self medicate, cook and clean, bathe, and needing assistance with mobility are all examples of aid and attendance requirements.

The housebound or aid & attendance benefit is often used to defray the cost of home care, assisted living or skilled nursing care for a veteran or the veteran's spouse.

It is recommended when calling the VA ask for information on Pension benefits. Visit the VA web site to learn more about the VA Pension and other benefits available to Veterans.