A little-known assistance from the Veterans Benefits Administration called the Aid and Attendance Pension is obtainable to help qualifying veterans, and their spouses, receive assistance with the chores of daily living to age safely in place.
The assistance is a tax-free, monthly, monetary payment obtainable to certain wartime veterans with financial need, and their survivors. It is designed for veterans who do not have a service-connected disability resulting from their military service and is obtainable for those who need the “aid and attendance” of another person for their routine daily living activities on a long-lasting basis.
These five basic activities of daily living, or ADLs, include eating, bathing/grooming, dressing, continence (using the toilet), and mobility (transferring, walking). Home care agencies provide aides who can assist those who need help with activities of daily living. Aid and Attendance helps wartime veterans and spouses pay for that assistance.
To qualify, a veteran, or veteran’s surviving spouse, need to meet three levels of criteria or what we call the three “M’s”.
Military service is the first consideration. A veteran, or the surviving spouse of a veteran, must have served at the minimum 90 days on active duty, at the minimum one day during wartime. This must include an honorable or general release. (Persian Gulf War veterans must have two years of active duty or the complete period for which they were called for active duty.)
A medical condition is the second criteria. A non-service connected medical issue that causes the individuals to need assistance with activities of daily living is also required.
Money is the third consideration. Individuals (or married couples) must have a net worth of less than $130,773. (limit established by Congress 12.1.2020). A dominant residence and value of automobile are not counted as part of the net worth. current non-reimbursable medical and long-term care expenses may also reduce one’s countable income.
Service during one of the VA Defined War Periods is also required. These dates include World War II, December 7, 1941-December 31, 1946; The Korean Conflict, June 27, 1950-January 31, 1955; The Vietnam Era, August 5, 1964-May 7, 1975; Veterans who served from February 28, 1961-August 5, 1964, must have served “in country” (Vietnam). And the Persian Gulf War, August 2, 1990- date however to be determined.
Social workers play a meaningful role in helping the veterans, and their families, understand the nuances of securing the Aid and Attendance assistance. Typically, the cause that gets social workers involved is a hospital stay. When older patients change from a hospital or rehab facility back into a home ecosystem, they often need help with daily activities.
One successful example of a veteran who was able to obtain and utilize these benefits was Albert Warren, a Korean veteran. He was a patient at a rehabilitation center in Texas. A widower, he was referred to in-home care by the VetAssist Program. He was able to live at home for seven years before his passing on at age 86.
A 90-year-old woman, Catherine DeNova and her daughter, were also able to obtain the benefits of the Aid and Attendance pension also by VetAssist. DeNova had a pacemaker and suffered from congestive heart failure. She was a surviving spouse of a World War II veteran. She had relied solely on her daughter to manage her care. They secured in home care, improving Catherine’s quality of life and giving her daughter respite care. Ms. DeNova continued receiving her VA benefits for private duty home care for almost two years before she passed away.
A social worker can help veterans, their surviving spouses, and their families obtain the proper information to determine if the individual qualifies for the Aid and Attendance Pension. They can also help refer the patient to an agency to help with the processing of the paperwork to ensure a positive consequence in as little time as possible.