What is Aid and Attendance?
Aid and Attendance (A&A) is a monthly pension benefit available to qualifying Veterans who need the aid and attendance of another person to perform the personal functions required for daily living such as to eat, bathe, dress and administer medication. The following are the maximum monthly A&A amounts currently available:
Married Couple: $2,984 Both are Veterans who need A&A
Veteran and Spouse or Dependant: $2,230 both need A&A
Surviving Spouse of Veteran: $1,209
Who Qualifies for Aid and Attendance?
There are several requirements to obtain A&A, including a service requirement, disability and asset requirement, and income requirement. You must prove that you satisfy these requirements by completing the Veterans Application for Pension or Compensation ("Application") and filing this Application with the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs (commonly referred to as the "VA").
Service Requirement—Must Have Served During War Time
In order to be eligible for A&A, a Veteran does not need to have served overseas, been in combat or have a service-connected disability; however, a Veteran must be honorably discharged and must have served 90 days of active duty with at least one day during a period of War. A surviving spouse of a Veteran who meets these requirements may also be eligible.
The official declared War Time dates as determined by Congress are as follows:
Mex. Border War: May 9, 1916 - April 5, 1917
World War I: April 6, 1917 - Nov. 11, 1918 April 1, 1920 if served in Russia
World War II: Dec. 7, 1941 - Dec. 31, 1946 Korean War June 27, 1950 - Jan. 31, 1955
Vietnam War: Aug. 5, 1964 - May 7, 1975 Feb. 28, 1961 if served in Vietnam
Persian Gulf War: Aug. 2, 1990 - date not yet determined
To satisfy the A& A disability requirement, you must be 65 or older and require the aid and attendance of another person to perform the personal functions required for daily living. Examples include the inability to dress or undress, keep oneself clean and presentable, the inability to feed oneself, and the inability to toilet. Other needs include being blind, nearly blind, or bedridden.
Help with these needs may be provided by an assisted living facility, home health aides, nurses and other professionals, a family member other than a spouse, or someone residing with you. The care services provided must be recommended by a licensed health care professional. The VA also requires that there be a Care Contract between the caregiver and the person receiving care. The contract needs to specify the care to be given and the amount to be paid, which must be the going rate for those kinds of services in the community in which the services are provided.
Income and Asset Requirement
There are income and asset requirements to receive A&A. Assets owned by either a married couple or a single person must be below $123,600. Income is counted as an asset. Therefore, if your annual income is $20,000 and you have cash assets of $50,000, your asset total is $70,000. Unreimbursed medical expenses can be subtracted from your annual income to determine whether you are eligible for A&A benefits. Assets which are exempt from these requirements include your residence on two acres or less, personal property, and vehicles.
Three Year Lookback Period
The VA now has a three year lookback period for gifting. This means any gifts made within three years of applying for A&A benefits could be assessed a penalty period by the claimant. If gifts have already been made and cannot be given back or "cured", then a penalty will likely be assessed. There are options for gifting prior to the need for benefits which can be discussed on an individual basis with a VA accredited attorney.
What Can I Do If My Assets Exceed the Asset Requirements?
Unlike Medicaid, if your assets exceed the requirements, you can give your assets away and become eligible for A&A. However, it is not recommended that you simply gift your assets outright. First, it exposes your assets to your beneficiaries' creditors. Second, you may need to "undo" the gift if you later need to become eligible for Medicaid, plus your beneficiaries may be unwilling or unable to return the gift.
In order to avoid these potential problems, we recommend that you gift your assets to an Irrevocable Trust.
Filing A Claim
Filing a claim for A&A is complex and time-consuming. Typically, qualification for A&A involves the reallocation of assets, which will impact Medicaid eligibility. This process should not be attempted without proper legal advice. It may take several months for an A&A Application to be approved by the VA; however, the benefits are paid retroactive to the month following the month in which the Application was filed. We can help prepare and file the claim on your behalf.
Veterans Benefit Checklist
The Veterans Benefit Checklist can be downloaded from the link below, completed and turned into the office.