Veterans, who have been honorably discharged after serving at least 90 days of active duty with one day served during a declared time of war and the surviving spouse may be eligible for the Aid and Attendance pension program through the Department of Veterans Affairs if they meet the service, financial and physical criteria. The individual must be eligible for the pension program.
War Time Service
To meet the service criteria, a veteran* must have served during one of the following war periods:
- World War I (December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946)
- Korean War (June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955)
- Vietnam War (August 5, 1964 through May 7, 1975; February 28, 1961 for veterans who served “in country”)
- Gulf War (August 2, 1990 through a date to be set by law of Presidential Proclamation).
* Surviving spouses are eligible for assistance if the spouse served during a wartime period.
Financial Eligibility for Aids and Attendance Benefits
In 2014, financial eligibility includes countable income that is less than the pension amount of $23,396 per year for a single veteran and $25,416 per year for a veteran with a dependent (such as a spouse). Countable income is the amount received after all non-reimbursed, recurring health care expenses such as assisted living costs, home health care, insurance premiums, Medicare premiums, on-going prescriptions and more.
In addition to countable income, the Veterans Administration must determine that the individual’s net worth is such that it will probably not support the veteran, dependents or surviving spouse through the reminder of his or her life. The primary residence and vehicles are exempt. Net worth includes assets such as bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and any property other than the residence and a reasonable lot area. There is no set limit on the amount of the net worth an individual may have, but it cannot be excessive. A general guideline is between $60,000 and $80,000 depending on the age of the claimant.
Need for Daily Assistance
Another criteria for eligibility is the need for daily assistance. The individual does not need to be bedridden, nor does he/she need to be in an assisted living or home health care situation. A physician must confirm the need for a claimant a) to dress or undress or to keep one’s self ordinarily clean and presentable, b) to adjust any special prosthetic or orthopedic appliances which by reason of the particular disability cannot be done without aid; c) to require assistance for feeding through the loss of coordination of upper extremities or through extreme weakness; d) to be unable to attend to the wants of nature; or e) who has a physical or mental incapacity which requires care or assistance on a regular basis to protect the claimant from hazards or dangers incident to his or her daily environment. Individuals who reside in a nursing home or who experience a visual acuity of 5/200 or less, in both eyes, or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less are also eligible.
Filing for Assistance
Individuals can apply through the local Veterans Administration by completing VA Form 21-526 for veterans or VA Form 21-534, Application for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, Death Pension and Accrued Benefits by Surviving Spouse or Child. For more information, call the Veterans Service Officer at the county Department of Human/Social Services, any veterans’ organization, the Colorado Department of Veterans Affairs at 303-284-6077 or the Veterans Administration Regional Office in Lakewood, Colorado at 1-800-827-1000. For more information visit the VA’s Aid & Attendance page.
Include VA Form 21-0845 (Authorization to Disclose Personal Information to a Third Party) if you are filing for your loved one and need to over see the application process. Without this authorization, the VA will not discuss the application with anyone other than yourself.
Never send originals and ALWAYS send all correspondence “Registered Return Receipt” as well as keeping a complete copy of everything for your own records. If you are in the process of completing an Aids and Attendants claim, the VA states “It is not necessary to request a duplicate copy of a veteran’s discharge or separation papers solely for the purpose of filing a claim for VA Benefits. If complete information about the veteran’s service is furnished on the application, the VA will obtain verification of service.” In spite of what the VA says, we recommend including a copy to avoid any imposed delay.
Amount of Payment
The amount of the aid and attendance payment is the difference between the countable income and the annual income.
Supporting Documentation for the Application
Veterans (and spouses, including surviving spouses) will need:
- A copy of the DD-214 (A replacement copy may be obtained here)
- Marriage certificates
- Social Security Award letters
- Net worth
- Proof of all income from pensions, retirement, interest income, annuities and so forth
- Proof of insurance premiums, medications, medical bills, or any other medical expenses not reimbursed by insurance or Medicare
- Physician statement that includes current diagnosis, medical status, prognosis, ability to care for self, and ability to travel independently
- Banking information for direct deposit
- List of all physicians and hospitals visited in the past year
Claims should be filed with the County Veterans Service Office. For a list of the Veterans Service Office in each county call 303-284-6077 or visit the Colorado Division of Veterans Affairs.