Many people do not realize that there is a benefit available for veterans or survivors who rely on the aid of another person to carry out their daily activities. It’s called Aid and Attendance, and is a little-known benefit that many veterans and their survivors are entitled to.
At the current rate for 2017, Aid and Attendance pays up to $1,794 monthly for a single veteran, up to $2,217 for a veteran with a spouse, and up to $1,153 for the surviving spouse of a veteran.
Who Qualifies For Aid and Attendance?
There are three criteria that determine whether someone is eligible for Aid and Attendance. Applicants must meet all three of these criteria:
Service / Survivor Status: The applicant is a wartime veteran who has seen 90 days of active duty, and at least one day of this period must have begun or ended during a period of war. Alternatively, the applicant is a surviving spouse of a deceased veteran.
Medical: The applicant needs the aid of another person to carry out necessary daily tasks such as dressing, eating, and personal care. Individuals are also eligible if they are blind, housebound, bedridden, or reside in an nursing home due to physical or mental incapacity.
Financial: The applicant is already eligible for a VA pension, and has less than $80,000 in assets, including their car and home.
Documents and Evidence Needed To Apply for Aid and Attendance.
Applying for Aid and Attendance requires lots of evidence, so it’s a good idea to start gathering it as early as you can. You’ll need:
- Discharge or separation papers.
- A copy of your current social security award letter.
- Financial information including your bank statements, any assets such as investments or stocks, and details of all income (including pensions, benefits, annuities, interest and any private income.)
- Banking information (for deposit of Aid and Attendance benefit if the application is successful.)
- Proof of insurance premiums, including any and all medical aid.
- A physician’s statement that covers current state of health, prognosis, any treatments, and ability regarding carrying out daily tasks or traveling unassisted.
- List of all doctors and hospitals visited in the last year.
Some applicants need to include additional information:
- Surviving spouse applicants will also need to include copies of their marriage certificate and their spouse’s death certificate.
- Applicants who are under 65 must include their employment history.
- Applicants currently residing in a care facility need to include a Nursing Home Status Statement and Statement Of Occupancy (ask the facility for these.)
- Court-appointed guardians applying on behalf of a veteran or surviving spouse must include a certified copy of the court order.
Special Note On the Physician's Statement
The physician’s statement is a key part of the application process, and can make a big difference to whether or not the application succeeds. The physician’s statement needs to clearly convey whether there is disease or injury that impairs the applicant’s ability to care for themselves on any given day.
The statement should also indicate how well the applicant can get around, what they can do on a normal day, and whether or not they are able to leave their home.
How To Apply For Aid and Attendance
After gathering the necessary evidence, applicants must fill out VA Form 21-527EZ (for veterans) or VA Form 21-534EZ (for spouses). You can download the application forms for Aid and Attendance here.
The forms should be completed in full (being careful to follow all instructions on the form), and the form and all supporting evidence should be mailed to the nearest processing office for VA applications. You can find a list of VA application processing offices listed by state here.
Plan Ahead For Your Application
Applying for Aid and Attendance is not a quick process. It takes time to gather all the evidence and complete the forms. Once the form has been mailed, it’s quite normal for the application process to take 6 – 8 months. That is why we recommend planning ahead and starting to gather evidence sooner rather than later.
You can also contact your local VA office to ask about help with filling out the form, or to clear up any questions.
Aid and Attendance is not a well-known benefit, but for those who are eligible it can make a real difference in the day-to-day costs of paying for care, especially if paid help is needed on a daily basis.