The Veterans Administration has a program that allows for a large subset of the veterans population to qualify for certain benefits that pay for costs associated with caring for a veteran or their spouse. This Aid and Attendance pension may be in addition to any pension that the service member and/or their spouse may already receive. The Housebound pension also covers certain costs associated the care and attendance to the veteran or their spouse when they are primarily confined to their residence. While a veteran or their spouse may already receive a pension, as well as these additional benefits, one cannot receive both the Aid and Attendance benefits as well as the Housebound benefits. It is important to note at the outset the difference between a pension and compensation.
Compensation is a sum of money that the veteran receives, tax free, for disabilities that the veteran suffered in relation to their time as a service member. The compensation is meant to make up for any loss of income due to the disability. A Pension is meant to provide additional monies to low income or disabled veterans who served during a period of war, or in a war zone. Both of these benefits are distinct from a military retirement. The benefits under these Veterans Administration programs have been in existence for over 60 years, yet many Veterans Administration officials and Veterans Administration attorneys were unaware of these benefits until recently.
WHAT IS COVERED
The Veterans Administration Aid and Attendance program allows for the payment of costs associated with paying for a caretaker to help with everyday personal functioning, such as bathing, dressing, feeding, bathroom help, assistance with prosthetic devices, et cetera. These costs are covered under the Aid and Attendance pension. The Housebound benefits cover costs associated with for assisted living for the veteran or their spouse, such as room and board, counted as unreimbursed medical expenses. The housebound individual does not have to be confined to their residence. They can be confined to a facility or a the home of a third party. The caregiver does not have to be a licensed medical provider. They can be children of the pensioner, although spouses are not included.
Eligibility for the program is rather simple to determine.
- First, the service member had to have a discharge that was under condition that were not dishonorable.
- Second, the service member had to serve 90 days continuous service, 1 day of which had to be during the following:
- World War II (December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946),
- Korean conflict (June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955)
- Vietnam era (February 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975 for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period; otherwise August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975
- Gulf War (August 2, 1990 – through a future date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation).
In addition to the service connected dates, there are maximum income amounts that the veteran may be entitled to. As with most any government means based test, it is important to pay attention to what the government considers or counts as income. Most everything is considered countable income, with the general exception of public assistance. A veteran with a spouse or other dependent is entitled to $16,851 in countable income in 2015. In turn, they are entitled to up to $25,448 in Aid and Assistance income. Finally, the veteran cannot have more than $80,000 in assets, although the veteran’s car and home may be excluded from this calculation.