What Is Aid and Attendance for Veterans?
- Aid and Attendance is a monthly allowance on top of the veterans' pension that can help cover care services at home, in assisted living or in a nursing home.
Senior care costs are increasing every year, leaving many seniors wondering how they can afford the level of care they need while maintaining their standard of living. For eligible veterans and their surviving spouses, Aid and Attendance can be a solution for funding care services at home or in a residential facility. Aid and Attendance is a monthly monetary benefit paid to veterans in addition to their pensions. It can help them pay for personal care services such as help eating, bathing and dressing.
What Is Aid and Attendance?
Aid and Attendance is a military benefit available to qualifying veterans who require help from another person to carry out daily living activities. This benefit is part of the VA’s Disability and Death Pension Programs. This monthly allowance can be used at the individual’s discretion for their living expenses, including to pay professional and informal caregivers such as friends and family.
Unfortunately, because payments are counted as income and aren’t deductible care expenses, veterans can’t pay their spouses for providing care services.
Who Is Eligible for Aid and Attendance?
To qualify for Aid and Attendance, all applicants must meet basic criteria based on their age and military service.
- Veterans or their surviving spouse must be at least 65 years old or have a disability.
- Veterans must be “wartime veterans,” meaning that they served at least 90 consecutive days and at least one full day during a time of war.
- Veterans must have a discharge status other than “dishonorable.” Under certain circumstances, those who were dishonorably discharged may be able to apply for a discharge upgrade.
- If the surviving spouse is applying for Aid and Attendance, they must have been living with the veteran at the time of their death and be single when they file their claim.
To be eligible for Aid and Attendance, you must meet financial and need-based criteria.
- The VA has income and asset limits for the Aid and Attendance benefit. The monthly benefit for those who qualify is based on countable income and the Maximum Annual Pension Rate, or MAPR, which Congress sets.
- Your countable income is how much you earn, including Social Security benefits, income from investments and retirement savings accounts and any income your dependents receive. If you’re employed, your countable income also includes any wages you receive, bonuses, commissions, overtime and tips.
- Certain expenses can reduce your countable income, such as medical expenses your health insurance doesn’t cover and educational expenses.
- Countable assets include the fair market value of property and things you own, including investments, furniture and boats, minus the amount of any outstanding mortgages.
- Assets that aren’t countable include your primary residence, basic home appliances that would stay in the home if you moved and your vehicle.
- There’s a three-year lookback period in which the VA considers whether you transferred any assets to meet asset limits. If the transferred amount would have pushed you above the asset limit, you’ll be subject to a penalty period of up to five years and won’t receive Aid and Attendance during that time.
Along with financial considerations, veterans must meet need-based criteria to be eligible for Aid and Attendance. At least one of the following must be true:
- You must need help with daily living activities such as dressing, bathing or eating.
- You must be bedridden or required to stay in bed for most of the day due to an illness.
- You must live in a nursing home due to a loss of physical or cognitive abilities related to a disability.
- You must have limited eyesight. Even with correction, your vision in both eyes must be 5/200 or less, or you must have a visual field of 5 degrees or less.
Even if you meet the qualifications for Aid and Attendance, you may not be eligible for benefits depending on other VA benefits you receive. It may also not be in your best financial interest to apply for this benefit if it would make you ineligible for other public programs.
You can’t receive Aid and Attendance and VA disability compensation at the same time. However, you can receive the higher benefit of the two programs. Additionally, receiving Aid and Attendance may disqualify you from receiving Medicaid. If you reside in a nursing home, Medicaid may provide more coverage than Aid and Attendance.
How Much Does the VA Pay for Aid and Attendance?
The Aid and Attendance allowance is the difference between the MAPR and the veteran’s countable income. In 2021, the MAPR for a veteran who qualifies for Aid and Attendance and has no dependents is $23,238. If that veteran’s annual income is $10,000, their annual benefit amount is $13,238, or $1,103 per month. Alternately, if two veterans are married to each other and both qualify for Aid and Attendance, their MAPR is $36,861. If their combined countable annual income is $17,000, their maximum annual benefit is $19,861, divided over 12 months.
Veteran with no dependents
Veteran with at least one dependent spouse or child
Two veterans married to each other
$27,549 (if one spouse qualifies for A&A)
$36,861 (if both spouses qualify for A&A)
Applying for Aid and Attendance
There are several avenues for applying for Aid and Attendance. Those who are certain they qualify can apply online directly with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Those who shouldn’t use this application include those already receiving pension benefits or disability compensation or who have pending applications. Veterans can also print, fill out and send in necessary documents to their nearest VA Pension Management Center.
Applying for Aid and Attendance can be confusing, so many veterans go to their local VA benefits center for one-on-one help. To talk to a Veterans Service Officer, call (800) 827-1000 or find your nearest VA regional office. You can check the status of an existing claim by calling the VA Pension Management Center at (877) 294-6380.