Tax-Free, Monthly Pension for Qualifying Veterans/Spouses

The Veterans Administration offers a little-known source of money to assist paying long term care costs entitled Aid & Attendance. This is a tax-free, monthly pension for qualifying veterans/spouses with certain recurring medical expenses, including homecare services. Of the 35+ million Americans age 65 and older in this country, approximately 11.5 million are veterans who served during a period of war – or their surviving spouses. This represents almost 33% of our senior population.

To receive the financial benefits, a veteran must have served on active duty during a period of war and received an honorable discharge. Single surviving spouses of such veterans are also eligible. Additional eligibility requirements include a documented medical disability or medical condition that requires regular assistance with Activities of Daily Living, and financial need.

Under the right conditions, many seniors in this country could qualify for up to $1,940/month in additional funds from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

However, there are many misunderstood aspects to the Aid & Attendance pension. Home Care Partners will identify and dispell many of the myths and misconceptions concerning the pension benefit, the application process, and the proper use of pension funding.

Myth # 1: Any veteran is eligible.

Answer: No, the Aid & Attendance pension is only available to veterans with wartime service. The VA has very specific enlistment dates relative to U.S. declared war…World War II (12/7/41 – 12/31/46), Korean Conflict (6/27/50 – 1/31/55), Vietnam Era (8/5/64 – 5/7/75 and 2/28/61 if “in-country” before 8/5/64), and Persian Gulf (8/2/90 – date to be set by law). The veteran must have served in a branch of the military, and been given an honorable discharge from service. They do not require out-of-country deployment.

Myth # 2: All surviving spouses are also eligible.

Answer: Not exclusively. A divorce may have ended the relationship between husband and wife, which in this case may be the “veteran and spouse” claim category. A divorced spouse is no longer eligible for VA benefits. And a copy of the marriage certificate is required as a component of the application.

Myth # 3: Applicants must be 62 or older

Answer: There are no age limits on this pension. Applicants must meet certain criteria on service time, medical/health needs, liquid assets, and income. But age is not a factor.

Myth # 4: My brother lives in North Carolina. Is he eligible?

Answer: Yes, he may be eligible for Aid & Attendance should he meet all the necessary requirements. This is a federal pension benefit, available to veterans/spouses across the country. Additionally, each state may offer different and unique benefits to veterans. For example, state benefits in Massachusetts may be quite different from those offered to veterans in the state of North Carolina. A call to your local veteran service officer, generally with offices located in town hall, is the first place to call regarding Massachsetts veterans benefits.

Myth # 5: My father already receives medical benefits through the VA. He is not eligible for Aid & Attendance.

Answer: No, this is false. A veteran may be wise to have medical coverage through the substantial resources offered within the VA medical system. But this in no way precludes eligibility for Aid & Attendance. The former offers hospitalization, medical care and attention. The latter provides financial assistance to help defray costs related to homecare.

Myth # 6: I’m healthy, but my wife requires significant care.

Answer: Aid & Attendance may provide some financial assistance. There are generally three categories for claim applicants: A) Veteran and Spouse; B) Veteran with no dependents; and C) Surviving Spouse of eligible wartime veteran. Each of these claim categories provides a different dollar amount as a maximum benefit. One criteria to determine eligibility is having a medical/health related need, effecting two or more of your “activities of daily living”, or ADL’s. Should the spouse require care, she and her husband should think about submitting an application for benefits.