On this page we discuss Improved Disability Pension for Veterans and Death Pension for Widows of Veterans. Both of these programs are frequently referred to as “Aid and Attendance.” While there are many Veterans Benefits, these benefits do not require a service connected disability, or that a Veteran be retired from the military.
The term “Aid and Attendance” is generally used by nursing homes, assisted living facilities and consultants to refer to two VA programs, The Improved Disability Pension and the Death Pension.
Warner, Payne & Black is experienced in assisting Veterans and their families plan for and obtain these benefits.
IMPROVED DISABILITY PENSION:
The Improved Disability Pension is available to Veterans who are permanently and totally disabled or age 65 or older, provided they meet all of the following criteria
1. The veteran was discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions, AND
2. The veteran served 90 days or more of active duty, AND
3. The veteran served at least one (1) day during a period of war time, AND
4. The veteran has countable family income below a yearly limit set by law, AND
5. The veteran has countable assets below an amount allowable by the VA. (Generally $80,000 but not guaranteed).
The veteran is considered to have met the wartime service requirement if at least one day of the veteran’s active duty was served during a period of war.
WHAT DOES THE VA MEAN BY A PERIOD OF WAR?
Fortunately we do not have to guess what the VA means by a Period of War or during war time. The following table sets out the beginning and ending dates of qualifying periods of war for Pension benefits.
|Period of War||Beginning and Ending Dates|
|World War II||December 7, 1941 through December 31, 1946|
|Korean Conflict||June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955|
|Vietnam Era||August 5, 1964 through May 7, 1975; for veterans who served “in country” before August 5, 1964, February 28, 1961 through May 7, 1975|
|Gulf War||August 2, 1990 through a date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation|
HOW MUCH DOES THE VA PAY IF YOU QUALIFY FOR THE PENSION?
The Department of Veteran Affairs pays a qualifying Veteran the difference between his countable family income and the yearly income limit applicable to the Veteran’s situation. The difference is generally paid in 12 equal monthly installments and rounded down to the nearest. In determining his countable family income, the veteran is allowed to deduct his reoccurring monthly medical expenses not covered by insurance or other benefits programs. This includes nursing home bills, assisted living bills, drug bills, doctor bills, home care expenses, etc. The income limit changes annually, generally in December. The yearly income limit for the year beginning December 1, 2008 is set forth below. This amount normally increases in December of each year; however, like Social Security, there was no increase for December of 2009.
|Without Spouse or Child||$11,803||$983|
|With One Dependent||$15,493||$1,291|
|Housebound without Dependents||$14,457||$1,205|
|Housebound With One Dependent||$18,120||$1,510|
|Aid and Attendance Without Dependents||$19,736||$1,644|
|Aid and Attendance With One Dependent||$23,396||$1,949|
|Two Veterans Married to Each Other||$15,493||$1,291|
|Add for Each Additional Dep. Child||$2,020||$169|
HOW DO YOU APPLY FOR THIS BENEFIT?
The Veteran applies by filing VA Form 21-526, for Compensation and/ or Pension. Generally he or she will need discharge or separation papers (DD214 or equivalent), copies of dependency records (marriage & children’s birth certificates), and current medical evidence (doctor & hospital reports).
The lawyers at Warner, Payne & Black, are committed to our Veterans. We want to assist you in obtaining the benefits you have earned. If you or a loved one believes he or she is eligible for this program, WE CAN HELP!!! With our years of experience in disability and benefits, we can assess the eligibility of you or your loved one for this program, and advise you as to any actions you need to take to qualify for the program now or in the future. The dollars provided by this program are frequently the only help available for a Veteran in an Assisted Living Facility.
If a wartime Veteran dies, and leaves behind a spouse and/or dependent child, they may be eligible for a Death Pension.
To qualify for the Death Pension a person must be a widow or dependent of deceased wartime Veteran. Further, the related veteran must meet the following requirements.
1. The veteran must have been discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions, AND
2 The veteran must have served 90 days or more of active duty, AND
3. The veteran must have served at least 1 day during a period of war time. War Periods are the same as for VA Pension.
4. Please note anyone who enlists after 9/7/80 generally has to serve at least 24 months or the full period for which the person was called or ordered to active duty in order to receive any benefits based on that period of service.
The Death Pension is generally available to an unmarried surviving spouse or unmarried dependent child of the veteran whose countable income is below a yearly limit set by law, and whose assets are below the amount set by the VA. Children cannot claim a Pension, if they are counted in determining the surviving spouse benefit. Generally the only time an older veteran household will have dependent children is if they have one or more totally disabled or special needs adult children living in the home.
HOW MUCH DOES THE DEATH PENSION PAY?
The amount paid under the death pension is calculated similar to the Improved Disability Pension; except the maximum pension is lower than the Improved Disability Pension. The VA pays a qualifying Veteran’s Dependent the difference between his or her countable family income and the yearly income limit applicable to the dependent’s situation. The difference is generally paid in 12 equal monthly installments and rounded down to the nearest. In determining his countable family income, the dependent is allowed to deduct his reoccurring monthly medical expenses not covered by insurance or other benefits programs. This includes nursing home bills, assisted living bills, drug bills, doctor bills, home care expenses, etc. The income limit changes annually, generally in December. The yearly income limit for the year beginning December 1, 2008 is set forth below. This amount is generally increased in December of each year, but like Social Security, was not increased in December of 2009.
|With One Dependent||$10,385||$865|
|Housebound without Dependents||$9,696||$808|
|Housebound With One Dependent||$12,144||$1,012|
|Aid and Attendance Without Dependents||$12,681||$1,057|
|Aid and Attendance With One Dependent||$15,587||$1,299|
|Add for Each Additional Child||$2,020||$168|
|Dependent Child Alone||$2,020||$168|
AID AND ATTENDANCE AND HOUSEBOUND RATINGS.
These ratings apply to both the Improved Disability Pension and Death Pension. A rating is granted by a veteran service representative where conditions exist that require more care giver support. Medical evidence is required unless someone is in a nursing home. The rating allows VA to pay an additional monthly amount of pension or compensation to a veteran or surviving spouse. The application form has a block to request for either rating. Medical evidence must be submitted. A rating is available to a veteran or the widow of a veteran. With a few exceptions, a veteran’s spouse cannot obtain a rating while the veteran is living.
Both the Improved Disability Pension and the Death Pension take assets into consideration in determining eligibility for the program. While there are no established limits on Assets, the Improved Disability Pension and Death Pension are needs based programs and the VA looks at the ability of a Veteran, Veteran’s widow, or dependent child to provide for their own support and health care. As an unofficial rule of thumb if the Pension Applicant has assets in excess of $80,000, not including the Principal Residence and certain other excluded assets, the Pension Applicant will not qualify. In the end the decision as to allowable assets is a subjective decision made by a VA representative. However there is no “transfer of asset penalties” in relation to these benefits at this time.
We want to help you in this area. The lawyers at Warner, Payne & Black are experienced in both Improved Pension and Death Pension Cases. If you have been unable to obtain benefits, we may be able to help. We can guide you through the system, so please CONTACT US.
Beware! Over the last few years we have seen a dramatic increase in people using these programs as a vehicle for selling insurance products and annuities. While most insurance agents are reputable, not all are; and some simply do not understand fully the ramifications of their proposals. For example, a plan that works for Improved Disability Pension purposes may be a disaster for Medicaid eligibility purposes. Since the person receiving the VA benefits is already experiencing significant health care problems, the potential need for Medicaid in the near future must be considered a real possibility. It is important that you consult with a firm with experience in all areas of long term care planning; not just Veterans Benefits. We want to be that firm!!
Also, while insurance products and annuities can be useful and are right for some people, it is never necessary to buy an annuity to qualify for Improved Disability Pension or Death Pension, i.e. “Aid and Attendance” benefits.
Finally remember no one should offer to advise you in regard to Veterans Benefits or assist you in filing a VA application unless they have been accredited by the Veterans Administration. This is required by the Veteran’s Administration. For a list of Accredited persons in your area double click HERE!
The foregoing information is subject to change at any time, and other more complex rules may apply. Do not rely on this information for any action or inaction as you may not fully understand all aspects of this topic. If you need help in this area seek the assistance of an attorney with Veterans Benefits experience. This site is not intended as legal advice.