Veterans Benefits

Numerous benefits await those who served in the United States Armed Forces, and one such benefit aims to unburden veterans and their families of the financial toll and worry that come with elderly nursing care, housing, and even the logistical aspects of death and burial. 

If you are a veteran – or are tending to a loved one who is an eligible veteran – you must  determine the veteran’s qualification for United States Department of Veterans Affairs benefits. After all, you earned it. 

The number of veterans and their respective families that are entitled to veterans benefits is already in the millions. In California alone, there are nearly two million veterans. 

However, the number of veterans  who have successfully obtained these benefits is nowhere near that number. There are a number of reasons for this: confusion over eligibility requirements, lack of information, and a rigid approval process. 

Given the immeasurable sacrifices veterans have made in service to our  country, it is simply unacceptable that the VA doesn’t provide a more streamlined process to help these veterans. 

Despite an increasing number of veterans reaching retirement age, the Veterans pensions for long-term care remain disproportionately underused.

What are the types of pensions available to Veterans to pay for long-term care?

There are 3 types of VA pensions available to veterans to help pay for long term care. First, there is the Basic Pension/Improved Income. Second, there is the Housebound pension. Third, there is the Aid and Attendance pension. While there are similarities among the pensions, they each have their own eligibility criteria.

What is the Basic Pension/Improved Income?

The Basic Pension/Improved Income provides regular monthly payments to wartime Veterans who meet certain age or disability requirements, and who have income and assets within certain limits.

To be eligible for the Basic Pension/Improved Income program, you must have served in the military and have been other than dishonorably discharged (either an honorable discharge or a general discharge). Your family income and assets must be within certain limits. Your assets include all your personal property (except your house, your car, and most of your home furnishings), minus any debts you owe. Your assets also include your spouse’s assets if you are married.

There also is a service requirement. Generally, you must have served on active duty within certain date ranges, with at least 1 day during wartime.

Finally, you must be over 65 years old, have a permanent disability, be a patient in a nursing home for long-term care because of your disability, or you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.

What is the Housebound Pension?

Like the Basic Pension/Improved Income, the Housebound Pension provides regular monthly payments to wartime Veterans who meet certain age or disability requirements, and who have income and assets within certain limits.

To qualify for the Housebound Pension, you must have a single permanent disability evaluated at 100-percent disabling, and must be permanently and substantially confined to your residence because of such disability. In the alternative, you must have a single permanent disability evaluated at 100-percent disabling and one or more other disabilities evaluated at 60 percent or more disabling.

There also is a service requirement. Generally, you must have served on active duty within certain date ranges, with at least 1 day during wartime.

What is the Aid and Attendance Pension Program?

The Aid and Attendance Pension is a monetary benefit designed to help veterans or their surviving spouses with the everyday costs of living (meals, medication, clothing) and in-home care costs. It is also known as “VA pension,” “veterans elder care benefits,” “VA benefit,” or “VA assisted living benefit.”

The VA Aid and Attendance Pension pays for elderly care. It does not require that the veteran live in a nursing home, and the monthly payments can be used to pay for in-home care.

The VA Aid and Attendance Pension is for veterans over the age of 65 who require assistance in their daily activities, including bathing, dressing, feeding, avoiding everyday hazards, and the like.

The Aid and Attendance Pension is available to veterans who are suffering from both physical and mental incapacity.

How Much is Covered by the Aid and Attendance Pension Program?

As of 2020, a married veteran is entitled to over $27,000 a year to cover elderly care and medical expenses. A single veteran is entitled to over $23,000 a year. A widowed spouse of a veteran can receive over $14,000 a year.

This assistance can be used for any purpose that can help the recipient if he or she requires nursing care or assisted living. It can also be used to pay an in-home caregiver.

Further, the Aid and Attendance Pension benefit can also enable the veteran or widowed spouse to remain in the family home for as long as possible, while safeguarding their hard-earned assets against the ever-escalating cost of long-term care.

What are the Medical Requirements for Aid and Attendance?

The medical criteria to be eligible for the VA Aid and Attendance Pension benefit are:

  • You need another person to help you perform the activities of daily living, like bathing, feeding, and dressing; or,
  • You are bedridden except for medical/therapy sessions and treatments; or,
  • Your eyesight is impaired, such that you have only 5/200 or less in both eyes, even with correction; or,
  • You reside in a nursing care home or an assisted living facility due to mental or physical incapacity, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

What are the Eligibility Requirements For Aid and Attendance?

To be eligible for the :

  • The veteran, whether alive or deceased, must have served at least 90 consecutive days in active duty, including at least one full day during wartime.
  • You must be permanently and totally disabled (veterans who are 65 or older are automatically considered permanently and totally disabled).
  • If you are under 65 years of age,you must be considered officially disabled by medical evidence.
  • You must not have had a dishonorable discharge.
  • You must have regular medical expenses.
  • You must satisfy an asset and income qualification test.

Aid and Attendance Pension is a unique military benefit in the sense that no military injury is necessary. Actual participation in a combat zone during wartime is not required.

Veterans who participated in combat but have a non-service connected disability which necessitates caregiver attention may also qualify, provided that the disability was not caused by the veteran’s deliberate misconduct.

What About Widowed Spouses?

Widows of deceased veterans may also qualify for the Aid and Attendance Pension benefit and they do not have to necessarily meet the disability or age requirement.

They may be eligible for the benefits if they pass the medical and asset and income requirements. On top of that, the requirements mainly focus on the specifics of the surviving spouse’s relation to the deceased veteran and current disability.

These are the requirements for the surviving spouses to receive the VA Aid and Attendance Pension benefit:

  • The widowed spouse must have been married to the veteran for at least one year or have had children with the veteran.
  • The widowed spouse must have been living with the veteran at the time of the veteran’s death, except if the separation was caused by military or medical reasons.
  • A widowed spouse without a dependent child can qualify under certain conditions.
  • The widowed spouse must be house-bound, meaning he or she cannot leave the home unassisted, or can leave the home only for medical appointments.
  • The widowed spouse requires round-the-clock assistance as advised by a physician.

How Is Wartime Service/Active Duty Defined?

The Department of Veterans Affairs adhere to the following wartime dates as specified by Congress:

  • World War II: December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946
  • Korean War: June 27, 1950 to January 31, 1955
  • Vietnam War: February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975 for veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during said period; otherwise, August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975
  • Gulf War/Iraq War: August 2, 1990 to a future date to be set by law or Presidential proclamation (for Veterans Affairs benefit matters, the war is still considered on-going).

Why Work With a Veterans Benefits Lawyer?

Working with a Veterans Benefits lawyer increases the likelihood of you receiving veterans benefits such as Housebound and Aid and Attendance. It also takes the burden off of you of figuring out what needs to be done and how to do it. We’ve helped hundreds of veterans plan their estates.

In a recently published report by the VA’s Board of Veterans’ Appeals, veterans who work with a veterans benefits attorney are twice as likely to be successful than those who don’t have legal representation.

Our seasoned California veterans benefits and disability attorneys are armed and can help you apply for veterans benefits. We can help you navigate the tricky landscape of Veterans Affairs.

Our services include:

  • Our VA-certified attorney can help you navigate the intricacies of VA regulations.
  • We have a wealth of experience in handling all kinds of claims and applications.
  • We possess the necessary resources to gather evidence, access medical records,
    and retrieve witness statements necessary to successfully complete your application to put your best foot forward.
  • We maintain strong ties with reputable medical and psychological experts not connected with the VA. This is especially vital since independent medical and psychological experts can be critical in supporting a VA application.

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