Q: Do I have to be living in assisted living before I can apply?
No, it is not necessary to be living in assisted living in order to apply for Veterans Aid and Attendance benefits in that you can receive this benefit at home, in certain senior living facilities, in assisted living, or a nursing home. However, if you are in need of the types of services provided by an assisted living facility, the entire cost of assisted living should count as an unreimbursed medical expense to help qualify you for Aid and Attendance. In that case, you would need to be residing in the assisted living residence and paying the bill in order for the assisted living bill to be considered a medical expense.
Q: Is the money paid to me or the assisted living facility?
The Aid and Attendance benefit is paid directly to the veteran or surviving spouse, not to the facility. The veteran or the spouse, of their adult child who is assisting them, the uses the money to pay for their care. The VA prefers to deposit the money directly into your checking account instead of sending a check by U.S. mail.
Q: My father was a wartime veteran and my parents were married for 27 years before they divorced. My father has now passed away and my mother needs extensive home care. Can she still qualify for Aid and Attendance as a surviving spouse?
No, the Department of Veterans Affairs has a strict rule that, in order to receive Aid and Attendance as a surviving spouse, which is referred to as "death pension," the surviving spouse cannot have been divorced from their former spouse who was a wartime veteran. Moreover, even if the surviving spouse was married to the veteran at the time of the veteran's death, if the surviving spouse has since remarried, he/she will not be able to receive death pension. Basically the surviving spouse has to be a widow or widower.
Q: What are the military service requirements?
For veterans who served prior to 1980, in order to qualify for Aid and Attendance, as well as the other variations (Housebound and Service Pension), the veteran must have served ninety consecutive days of active duty (not in the reserves), with at least one day of the ninety during a qualifying war period. Note that there is no requirement that the veteran have served in a combat zone or overseas.
Veterans who served after 1980 must have completed a continuous period of active duty of at least 24 months.
In addition, the veteran must have an other-than dishonorable discharge. Examples of other-than dishonorable discharges include:
- an honorable discharge
- a general discharge
- a medical discharge
- a family hardship discharge
However, it should be noted that only an honorable discharge is guaranteed to meet the military service requirement in that the VA has discretion to deny improved pension to a veteran or the surviving spouse if the veteran's discharge was anything other than honorable.
A dishonorable discharge will result in a denial of benefits. However, in some cases, before applying, it may be possible to have the dishonorable discharge reviewed and upgraded.
Q: What are the qualifying war periods?
The qualifying war periods are:
- World War I: April 6, 1917 to November 11, 1918
- World War II: December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946
- Korean Conflict: June 27, 1950 to January 31, 1955
- Vietnam era: the period beginning on February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975, inclusive, in the case of veterans who actually served in Vietnam during that period. The period beginning on August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975 for all other Vietnam era veterans.
- Persian Gulf War: August 2, 1990 through a date to be set by Presidential proclamation or law. The second Iraq war is considered to be a continuation of the Persian Gulf War.
Q: What are the Aid and Attendance benefit amounts?
The following are the monthly Aid and Attendance benefit amounts for 2013:
- A single veteran can receive up to $1,731.00 per month.
- A married veteran can receive up to $2,053.00 per month.
- The surviving spouse of a wartime veteran can receive up to $1,112.00 per month.
Elder Law, Estate Planning, and Probate attorney Andrew Byers helps people in Troy, MI and throughout Oakland County, MI including Royal Oak, Clawson, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Rochester Hills, as well as throughout the metro Detroit area, including Macomb County and Wayne County, Michigan.