For so many, one of the biggest questions about retirement is how to prepare for and pay for unexpected expenses. And, unfortunately, there are some expenses that can crop up with no warning, no matter how well one plans for retirement. For those who served our country, there are veterans benefits in place to help with some of the more common retirement expenses that pop up, specifically, for medical and care-related expenses. When unexpected expenses come up after retirement age, the Veterans Pension can offer an income supplement for those who need the extra help. In addition to the Veterans Pension, those who are in assisted living or need extra care for daily living may be eligible for the Aid and Attendance Pension as well.
Start With the Veterans Pension
The first step toward qualifying for Aid and Attendance is to apply for and receive the Veterans Pension or Survivors Pension from the VA. The Veterans Pension is available to those who have served at least 90 days of active duty time, with at least one of those days occurring during war times. The Survivors Pension is much the same, as it comes with the same service stipulation; however, it is specifically for an un-remarried surviving spouse or unmarried children of a deceased veteran.
Both the Veterans and the Survivors Pensions are based primarily on annual income. For a surviving spouse to qualify, he or she may not have remarried and their spouse must have met the service requirements and have been discharged for other than dishonorable conditions. Children of a deceased wartime veteran are eligible based on the same family income stipulation as long as they are under the age of 18—or 23 for those attending a VA-approved school—or permanently unable to support themselves due to a disability that occurred before they turn 18.
Qualifications for the Veterans Pension have another layer to them. In addition to the service requirement, a qualifying veteran must meet one of the following conditions:
- Receive Social Security Disability Insurance
- Receive Supplemental Security Insurance
- Be 100% permanently disabled
- Be age 65 or older
In order to qualify, a veteran does not need to meet all of the above conditions, just one of them. However, these qualifications are in addition to the income requirement, which is set by Congress. You can see the current income requirements on the Department of Veterans Affairs website here.
Aid and Attendance
The Aid and Attendance Pension is meant to supplement the Veterans or Survivors Pension for those who need the additional financial help to cover the cost of ongoing care. So, as we said above, the first step in receiving this supplemental aid is qualifying for, applying for, and receiving either the Veterans Pension or the Survivors Pension. However, the caveat here is that the rates for receiving Aid and Attendance change the income requirements, so a veteran who does not qualify for the Veterans Pension alone because of the income restriction may qualify for the Veterans Pension with Aid and Attendance—assuming they meet the other requirements for both the Pension and Aid and Attendance.
Aid and Attendance is, specifically, extra income for those who require aid or assistance with everyday living, whether they are homebound or live in an assisted-living facility. To that end, there are extra requirements on top of those for the Veterans or Survivors Pension. When applying for Aid and Attendance, you will need to show evidence of the requirement for care and the reason the extra care is needed. This will likely need to include a report from the primary physician providing treatment and will need to detail how well the applicant is capable of getting around.
Wading through all the legalese of a VA application can be tough without someone who knows the system. Applications can be submitted through your state’s Pension Management Center or your local VA regional benefits office. If you need additional help with the application process, the team at Patriot Angels is here to help. We don’t sell products like annuities or other financial services—we are here just to help our nation’s veterans and their loved ones apply for government assistance. Contact us today to learn more about applying for the Veterans Pension and Aid and Attendance!