Aid and Attendance Pension

  1. Here’s an outline on how it works.
    1. Can a veteran or a surviving spouse of a veteran get additional payments for long term care in an assisted living facility, in a nursing home or at home with a home care program?

      Yes, if you fulfill the service, disability, and financial requirements listed below you may be eligible for the Aid and Attendance pension program. If you qualify, you will get an additional monthly check.

    2. Service Requirements
      1. Veterans must have served 90 days or more of continuous military service with at least 1 day in wartime during their lifetime and have been discharged “Honorable” or “General under honorable” conditions:
        • World War II: Dec. 7, 1941 through Dec. 31, 1946.
        • Korean War: June 27, 1950 through Jan. 31, 1955.
        • Vietnam War: August 5, 1964 through May 7, 1975 (Feb. 28, 1961 for veteran’s who served “in country” before Aug. 5, 1964).
        • Gulf War: August 2, 1990, through a date to be set by law of Presidential Proclamation.
      2. The veteran also must be certified by a physician as permanently and totally disabled, although this condition does not have to be service-connected. There are several forms which need to be prepared. The Veteran’s organization will help you determine which ones and help you complete these free of charge. Forms are available at the website: www.va.gov, however, the best practice would be to obtain experienced help from a veteran’s service organization or an attorney; see section F. of this article for recommendations.

    3. Disability Requirements
      1. Available to any veteran and/or surviving spouse who requires the “aid and attendance” of another person in order to “avoid the hazards of his or her daily life.”
      2. A person in an assisted-living facility is presumed to be in need of aid and attendance. You do not have to be bedridden or entirely helpless. You need only show that you require this care on a regular basis.
      3. The VA will accept a letter from your private physician, with a complete medical diagnosis, stating that the claimant has an incapacity that requires care or assistance on a regular basis generally in 2 areas of activities of daily living, such as: bathing, dressing, transferring, toileting.

         

    4. Financial Requirements
      1. Assets or net worth limits:

        The VA does not currently have a set asset limit, but it does consider an applicant’s financial assets when determining eligibility. Generally an applicant’s net worth should be under $80,000, married or single, not counting the home, vehicle or term life insurance. Factors the VA takes into consideration are the age and life expectancy of the applicant and the costs of care. By comparison, in Connecticut, Medicaid limits an applicant’s assets to $1,600 and the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders asset limits are $35,766 for a single applicant and $47,688 for a couple. (Jan. 1, 2014) There are also income caps on these two programs.

        Although the VA does not presently penalize applicants for transferring assets in order to qualify, the administration has begun inquiring about transferred assets as part of the application process. Additionally, new regulations proposed by the VA would impose a period of ineligibility on asset transfers.

      2. Income limits:

        If all of the above requirements are met, the next question is about countable income. What is the applicant’s income? The VA will calculate your countable monthly income and, if it falls below the applicable pension rate, send you a monthly payment to make up the difference between your countable income and the applicable pension rate. The current aid and attendance pension rates are $21,466 annually ($1,788 monthly) for a single veteran; $25,448 annually ($2,120 monthly) for a veteran and spouse; and $13,794 annually ($1,149 monthly) for a surviving spouse. These figures change annually in December based on the annual cost of living adjustment for Social Security.

        To calculate an applicant’s countable income, the VA takes the total gross annual income, including income earned on savings or investments, and then subtracts certain deductions, such as unreimbursed medical expenses. Some examples of unreimbursed medical expenses might include dentist fees, glasses, doctor’s fees, prescription drugs, therapy, home health services, Medicare Part B premiums (currently $104.90 per month), Medicare Part D premiums, and supplemental health insurance premiums.

    5. Here’s how it works:

      CASE ONE: A single Veteran
      (income standard for a single veteran is $1,788 monthly)

      Income:$1,900.00 Social Security
      $ 1,200.00 Employer pension
      $3,100.00 Total income

      Expenses:- $4,500.00 Assisted-living costs
      - 104.90 Medicare premium
      - 43.00 Part D RX plan
      - 250.00 Supplemental medical insurance premiums
      - 25.00 Out of pocket RX co-pays and deductibles
      4,917.90 total expenses multiplied by 95% = $4,672.00

      Countable income: $ 0

      ($3,100 - $4,672 = $0)
      Actual income minus 95% of unreimbursed medical expenses = countable income

      Monthly Deficit $1,788
      ($1,788 minus $0)
      Countable income minus pension rate for a single veteran = deficit

      New Total income: $4,888
      ($3,100+ $1,788 = $4,888)


    6. Who can help me apply for this pension? How long does the process take?

      Our office can assist you with determining whether you may be eligible for this pension, as well as how to best coordinate it with other available programs to maximize your benefits. Several of our attorneys are Accredited Veteran’s Affairs Claims Attorneys.

      You can appoint a recognized service organization such the Connecticut Dept. of Veteran’s Affairs to represent you. This is a free service. However, you may need additional legal advice related to how this benefit will affect other benefits and this Department cannot assist you with that.

      The application process might take as little as 6 months to perhaps over a year to complete. However, the benefit is retroactive to the first of the month following the month in which you applied. (For example, if you file an application on November 11, the retroactive amount would be effective December 1.) You will receive a check for the retroactive amount.

  2. Important related questions: Will the Veteran’s increased income count for other programs/benefits, such as Medicaid or state-funded home care, Medicare Savings Programs, Medicaid for low income adults, SAGA cash assistance, fuel and weatherization programs?

    Effective July 1, 2012, Connecticut disregards a portion of the VA pension and does not count it as income for most programs. It’s very important to get good advice so you select the best program for you. You may need a special needs trust (SNT) for any excess income in order to qualify for some programs.

Helpful websites:

www.ct.gov/ctva - Connecticut Dept. of Veteran’s Affairs website. Find which District office covers your town and then call the Advocate in that office for assistance.

www.va.gov - Contact the VA, on their website, and ask a question; they respond within a day or two.