Let me explain to you about VA Aid and Attendance Benefits 2022.
The U.S. armed service members dedicated the best years of their lives to our country and expected little in return for their service.
Once they leave the military, these veterans and their families face many challenges. It is the government’s responsibility to support the people who once defended our country, its freedom, and its values.
This is a responsibility the federal government takes very seriously.
The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), the second-largest federal government agency, supports veterans in many ways, including:
- Health Care Benefits
- Compensation for injuries while on duty
- Home loans
- Education and Training Benefits – GI Bill
- Life Insurance
- Burial Benefits
- Dependents and Survivors’ benefits
- VA Long-Term Care Benefits – In-Home Care
- VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension Benefits
The last item on the list above is a lesser-known but beneficial program known as the VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension benefit program, often called VA Aid and Attendance benefit program or just Aid and Attendance.
The official name of the program used by the VA is Veterans Pension. Here we will use the more common recognized name, “VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension.”
Since it is not a well-known VA benefit, it is clouded with misinformation, so it is only natural to have questions about the program.
The name itself adds to the problem of awareness; the program name includes the term “pension”. When I tell a veteran about the VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension program, I often hear: “I only served four years in the Navy, so I don’t qualify for a pension.”
Pensions are generally available to those with 20 years or more of service, so the word pension can be confusing.
Here I will clear up much of the misinformation and help you understand the VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension program, the list of benefits, the qualification rules, and who can legally help a veteran apply.
What is the VA Aid and Attendance Benefits 2022 / Veterans Pension?
The VA Aid and Attendance Benefits 2022 program provides monthly payments to eligible veterans, spouses, and surviving spouses to help pay for part of the cost of long-term care or extended care services.
I say part of the cost because the average cost of long-term care in an assisted living facility in 2022 is over $4,500 per month per the Genworth cost of care calculator, and the cost goes up from there depending on the levels of care needed.
The VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension only pays about half of that cost for a veteran and only a little over a third of the cost for a veteran’s surviving spouse.
This is why many seek additional funding through Medicaid or Arizona Medicaid – ALTCS.
The VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension is a tax-free monthly allowance and does not affect Social Security benefits or income taxes.
The program covers the cost of long-term care for eligible veterans, spouses, and their surviving spouses. The reason for needing long-term care does not have to be connected to military service.
The VA Aid and Attendance pension is a monthly cash payment, and the beneficiary is free to use the money for whatever they want; however, most use it to pay for additional long-term care services.
Long-term care services include help with daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, toileting and hygiene, feeding, transferring from bed to wheelchair, walking, and medication management, which are called Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).
The VA Aid and Attendance Benefits 2022 allow most veterans to receive essential long-term care services in their homes. This enables them to maintain their quality of life at home instead of moving to an assisted living or nursing care facility.
In addition, the VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension program, also pays for services in skilled care, adult day care, assisted living facilities, and residential assisted living homes.
As hinted earlier, the VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension benefit is not an exclusive benefit. A veteran can continue to receive other benefits along with the long-term care pension. Note that this is true with one exception: a veteran cannot receive both compensation and pension, only the greater of the two.
Consider a married veteran who is receiving a 60% compensation benefit of$1,325 per month, then later qualifies for the VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension, which is $2,050. Once approved for the VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension, the veteran would begin receiving the $2,050 per month benefit, not the total of the two.
There is an exception: a veteran with a 100% Compensation Rating may be able to qualify for what is called Special Monthly Compensation, which is help for paying for the cost of extended care. To receive this benefit, the reason that the veteran has a 100% rating must be the same reason for needing long-term care.
What are the Eligibility Requirements for VA Aid and Attendance Benefits 2022?
There is a misconception that the VA Aid and Attendance benefit has stringent eligibility criteria. That confusion is enough to stop many deserving veterans from making a claim.
The reality is that the eligibility requirements are relatively straightforward.
Those applying for additional pension benefits must meet the “3Ms to Veterans Pension Qualification™” which are:
The First M: Military Service
In order to qualify, a veteran must meet the following military service requirements:
- The veteran must have at least 90 consecutive days ( ¹ see Gulf War Veteran exception) of active duty with one day during a period of war**.
- The veteran must have received an honorable or general discharge (formal release at the expiration of enlistment).
Veteran Pension Secret #1
You don’t have to have been in the war zone to qualify. You only need to have been in the military during the war period.
Active participation in a war or serving in a war zone is not required to apply for VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension.
Armed service members stationed in the United States during a period of war are eligible for the VA Aid and Attendance benefits (for example, the Vietnam War Era). Again, they do not have to have been in the war zone to qualify.
Members of the reserves who were never called to active duty are not eligible for VA Aid and Attendance, meaning that “active duty for training” doesn’t count as “active duty.”
For the specific purpose of ascertaining VA Aid and Attendance eligibility, the United States Congress has defined wartime dates as follows: (List left out to save the cost of edit)
Period of War
Start and End Dates
The Second World War (WW II)
December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946
June 27, 1950, to January 31, 1955
For veterans who served in Vietnam: February 28, 1961, to May 7, 1975
Others: August 5, 1964, to May 7, 1975
(¹) Gulf War veterans must have 24 months of active duty, the 24 months do not have to be consecutive.
August 2, 1990 (For VA pension benefits, the war is still in effect). The end date will be set through law or Presidential proclamation.
Contact a VA-Accredited Agent for Free Consultation
The Second M: Medical Requirements
The inability to perform daily tasks can be due to visual impairment or physical or mental incapacity. The veteran must meet at least one of the following conditions:
- The veteran cannot perform specific basic day-to-day tasks and needs a person to perform or assist in performing activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, personal hygiene, dressing, transferring, and feeding. The assistance should be for at least two or more ADLs.
- The veteran is bedridden or forced to spend a large portion of the day in bed due to a medical condition or disability.
- The veteran resides in a nursing home due to a physical or mental disability. Mental incapacity also includes degenerative cognitive conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
- The veteran suffers from partial or total visual impairment meaning eyesight is only 5/200 or less in both eyes, even with corrective lenses, or suffering from concentric visual field loss with a VF of 5 degrees or less.
The word ‘assistance’ in performing ADLs has a wider connotation than just physical help. Providing instructions on how to perform the daily activity, reminding the beneficiary of the activity, or standing by to prevent an accident, fall, or injury is also considered assistance.
The pension management center determines medical eligibility based on the VA Physicians Evaluation – VA form 21-2680. The VA bases a Veterans Medical Eligibility on what is provided on this form by your doctor, PA, or nurse practitioner.
It is important to have your VA Accredited Claims agent review the report before it is submitted.
The Third M: Money or Financial Requirements
The VA calls the income and asset limit the “bright-line limit.”
What are the income and asset limits for VA Aid and Attendance/ Veterans Pension for 2022?
For 2022, the bright-line limit is $138,489.
The bright-line limit is a combination of all household income and assets.
Income is offset by unreimbursed medical expenses, which means if income is $4,000 per month and unreimbursed medical expenses are $4,500 per month, there is a zero net income for qualification purposes.
That means you could have $138,489 in countable assets and still qualify.
Here is another example where someone would be over-resourced.
A veteran has $110,000 in total countable assets under the $138,489 bright-line asset limit, but the veteran has a monthly income of $6,000 per month and is only spending $3,500 per month on care. In that case, the veteran has a net positive income of $2,500 per month, or $30,000.
When calculating the Bright-Line Limit, the asset of $110,000 and the net positive income is added together, so the $30,000 plus the $110,000 is $140,000 which is above the $138,489 bright-line limit. The veteran would then be denied VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension benefits.
Veteran Pension Secret #2
You can convert countable to non-countable assets reducing them below the “Bright-Line Limit” to qualify.
Example: Let’s say that you have $200,000 in countable assets or $61,511 over-resourced. Here are a couple of things you can do to reduce your assets below the limit.
- Buy a car
- Do home improvements (handy cap accessible)
- Pay off or down a mortgage
- Pay off credit card debt
- Pre-pay final expenses ( See Funeral Trusts)
- Make a small gift (be sure to consult an Accredited Agent before you use a gifting strategy)
What are countable and non-countable income and assets?
The VA counts all marital household income and assets as jointly owned.
Countable income includes: Social Security Income(s), all pension income, earned income from employment, interest income, RMDs from retirement accounts, short and long-term capital gains, and even gifts to you from children or family to help pay for care, so payments from any source unless specifically excluded.
The following sources of income are counted for the purposes of completing the financial assessment.
- Benefits Subject to Garnishment
- Complaint Settlement
- Cooperative (Co-op) Dividends
- Department of Labor Employment Programs
- Dependency and Indemnity Compensation —This benefit program pays a monthly payment to a surviving spouse, child, or parents of a deceased military service member or Veteran.
- Farm Income/Conservation Resource Program Payments
- Foreign Currency Conversion
- Gambling/Lottery Winnings
- GI Bill
- Gifts and Inheritance of Property or Cash (The fair market value of gifts or inherited property is countable in the year they are received)
- Individual Retirement Account (IRA) Distributions
- Interest and Dividends
- Life Insurance Proceeds (Death Benefit paid to Veteran or spouse). Life insurance is Countable as income in the year that it is received.
- Long-term care insurance payments.
- Net Profits and Depredation from Business, Farm and Ranch, Real Estate
- Partnership, and S Corporations (Depredation is added back in as income)
- Other Income (Prizes/Awards, Inheritances)
- Payments from Stocks and Bonds, Capital Gains
- Pensions, Annuities, Railroad Retirement
- Revocable Trust
- Royalties (Books, Music, Art, etc.)
- Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (amounts exceeding $2,000 per individual per annum -including cash dividends on stock received from a Native Corporation)
- American Indian Beneficiaries from trust or restricted lands (amounts exceeding $2,000 per individual per calendar year)
- Social Security Benefits and Death Benefit Payment (including retroactive Lump Sum Payment from previous years)
- Timber Sales
- Unemployment Compensation
- VA Disability Compensation – For the purposes of completing a financial assessment, the gross household income for a Service-connected Veteran who is receiving VA disability compensation and is married to a Nonservice-connected Veteran who is completing the financial assessment, VA disability compensation benefits would be countable income for the household
- Value of Room and Board/Housing Allowances
- Wages (Employment), Salaries, Bonuses, Severance Pay, Tips, and Other Accrued Benefits, etc.
- Workers Compensation
Non-Countable or Exempt Income includes:
- Caregiver Payments
- Chore Service Payments
- Crime Victims Compensation Act Payments
- Disaster Relief Payments or Proceeds of Casualty Insurance
- Discharge of Indebtedness
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Insurance Payments
- Federal Government Sponsored Economic Stimulus Refunds
- Foster Care Payments
- Income from Domestic Volunteer Service Act Program
- Income Tax Refunds
- Loans (Reverse Mortgages)
- Needs-Based Payments from Government Agency
- Payments for participation in a program of Rehabilitative Services
- Provisional Income
- Relocation Expenses
- Scholarships and Grants from school attendance
- Agent Orange
- Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (income of up to $2,000 per individual per annum -including cash dividends on stock received from a Native Corporation)
- American Indian Beneficiaries from trust or restricted lands (income of up to $2,000 per individual per calendar year)
- VA Pension Payments
- Welfare, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Compensated Work Therapy (CWT), Incentive Therapy (IT) earnings
- Withheld Social Security Overpayments
NOTE: The above list is not all-inclusive.
Non-Countable and Countable Assets
Non-countable assets include:
- A residence or home – ( a primary residence is exempt even if it is rented out. The income from the rental counts.)
- Personal effects
- Vehicle(s) note that it says plural all vehicles are exempt.
Countable assets include:
- IRA’s, 401 K’s
- Cash Value in life insurance
- Annuities – Not Annuitized (if annuitized, you must count the income)
- Vacation property – 2nd home
- Commercial Property
- Business Assets
Eligibility of Surviving Spouse to Receive VA Aid and Attendance Benefits 2022
Surviving Spouses are eligible for the VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension program. For the surviving spouse to qualify for the benefit, they must meet all of the following conditions:
- The surviving spouse’s marriage to the veteran should be valid under the VA rules. To fulfill this condition, the marriage should have lasted at least a year or a child born to the couple regardless of the length of the marriage. Common-law marriages are accepted if the veteran and spouse lived together as a married couple, conducted themselves as a couple, and can prove they intended to present themselves as a married couple.
- The surviving spouse was still married to the veteran at the time of death.
- Even if single at the time of application, the surviving spouse should not have remarried after the veteran’s death. A remarried spouse could claim benefits if the second marriage was terminated by divorce or death between January 1971 and October 31, 1991. That exception will only apply if the surviving spouse was married at the time of the veteran’s death.
- A surviving spouse who married more than once can claim the A&A allowance if the latest marriage was with the and the marriage ended due to the veteran’s death and the spouse did not remarry.
Frequently Asked Questions About VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension
(1) Is the VA Aid and Attendance Allowance Taxable?
The VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension and compensation benefits paid under the Veteran Administration are not taxable.
(2) Can I Have Aid and Attendance and Medicaid?
Veterans receiving VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension can also apply for Medicaid.
The ideal course of action is to apply for VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension first and then seek Medicaid or ALTCS. With most state Medicaid programs, you must apply for Veterans Benefits before applying for Medicaid long-term care coverage. This is true for Arizona Medicaid or ALTCS ( Arizona Long Term Care System Medicaid Program ).
Veterans planning to apply for VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension will want to consider Medicaid as the VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension allowance is capped. The VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension is not enough to cover all the long-term care costs of the individual, whereas Medicaid will.
(3) What Is the Difference Between Aid and Attendance and Housebound Pension?
Veterans with a partial or permanent disability who are largely confined to their homes or its immediate premises are eligible for the Housebound pension.
For example, retired service members who require help with ADLs because they leave the house only to see the doctor or to get therapy or treatment can qualify for the Housebound pension.
VA Aid and Attendance and Housebound Pension have similar rules and both use the same forms. However, there are minor differences, like the qualifying income limits, which are lower in the case of Housebound Pension.
(4) Are There Any Potential Conflicts Between VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension and Other VA Programs?
Knowledge of eligibility conflicts between pension and other programs would greatly help the veterans and their families avoid delays.
A VA-accredited claims agent will answer your questions on this subject.It’s useful to know that veterans cannot receive VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension and Compensation simultaneously.
The latter is provided to veterans who are disabled due to illness or injury suffered during their active service. You can compare the compensation provided by both programs and apply for the one with the highest benefit.
As mentioned above, someone with a 100% Compensation Rating can apply for “Special Monthly Compensation.”
(5) Is There a Look-Back Period in VA Aid and Attendance Benefits 2022?
VA has prescribed a strict annual asset limit for veterans applying for VA Aid and Attendance Benefits 2022. To prevent veterans from transferring their assets for a price less than what is deemed to be market value to gain eligibility for VA, a look-back period of three years was introduced in 2018.
The look-back period starts from the date of application.
A penalty divisor like the one for Arizona Medicaid is applied; in 2022, the VA Aid and Attendance Benefits 2022 divisor is $2,431, which is equal to one month’s benefit for a married couple.
This amount is the same across the board regardless if married, single, or a surviving spouse of a wartime veteran.
(6) How Long Does It Take to Process a VA A&A Application?
The time to process an application might vary and depends on several factors. On average, the VA Pension Management Center will take five months to approve an application.
That said, eligible veterans won’t lose any benefits. That’s because once the VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension is approved, the benefits are retroactive back to the date of the claim. The date of the claim is the first of the month following the month of application.
The first benefit payment will be a lump-sum payment covering the payments from the time of application to approval. If it takes six months to be approved, the first payment of a single veteran would be $12,300 ($2,050 times 6 = $12,300).
In certain circumstances, a special request can be made to expedite the process. Normally, the VA Pension Management Center gives priority to veterans who are age 90 or older.
Veterans Pension Secret #3
Prepare the claim properly before submitting it to the VA. A poorly prepared application can double the amount of time for approval. This is where a VA Accredited Claims agent can help by ensuring that your claim is ready for approval when it reaches a Veterans Service Representative’s desk.
(7) What Are ADLs and IADLs for VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension?
Once the application for allowance is submitted, the VA accesses the veteran’s functional status and ability to perform daily activities.
The VA determines functional status by considering Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs). What’s the difference and why are they important?
Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
These are activities of personal care that people perform every day to live independently.
To meet the medical requirements of VA A&A, the claimant should need regular assistance (or supervision in the case of mental or dementia disorders) with two out of five of the following activities:
- Ambulating – Walking
- Transferring (from bed to chair, chair to standing position, etc)
- Medication Management (cognitive impairment must be present to have medication management be a qualifying ADL)
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs)
- Transportation (for doctor/hospital visits, therapy, etc.)
- Handling medicines
- Using the telephone
- Doing laundry
- Cooking/food preparation
IADLs are also tasks that people perform regularly but are not related to personal care. The activities under this category have to do with managing the household. Note: IADLs alone will not be enough to qualify for VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension. Some of the IADLs activities are: (List left out to save the cost of edit)
While deciding whether a veteran or surviving spouse is entitled to receive VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension benefits, the VA considers both ADLs and IADLs to determine how well the claimants can care for themselves.
In a nutshell, for the Veteran Administration, IADLs are not considered medical expenses, but do form part of the decision process.
Noting again, a claimant must need assistance with two out of seven ADLs to qualify.
(8) How are VA Aid and Attendance Benefits Paid?
The VA Pension with Aid and Attendance is a periodic allowance deposited in the bank account of the veteran or surviving spouse.
It must be mentioned that to qualify for A&A allowance, the veteran must need assistance with two out of five ADLs.
Essentially, the claimant should be already paying for care to claim long-term care benefits. Once the application is approved, the veteran can pay for personal care with the A&A allowance deposited in the bank account.
(9) How Much Money Does the Veteran Receive Under VA Aid and Attendance?
The precise amount a veteran is eligible to receive is determined after considering several factors such as marital status and dependents.
The 2022 VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension benefit amounts are:
- Single Veteran can receive a monthly allowance up to $2,050. per month
- Married Veteran is up to $2,431 per month
- Surviving spouse is up to $1,318 per month
- Spouse of a veteran is $1,609 per month
- Dual Veterans (Husband and Wife are both Veterans) – $3,252 per month
(10) Who Can Help with VA Aid and Attendance Benefits 2022 Claims?
The VA has strict rules specifying who can and cannot help, prepare, present, and prosecute a claim before the Veterans Administration.
Under Title 38 CFR S14.630 (a), any person can help a veteran with the claim ONE time. This provision allows a family member or a well-wisher of the veteran to plan and present a claim on behalf of the claimant.
Only those who are recognized by the VA Secretary can counsel, guide, collect information, plan, prepare, present, and prosecute claims before the VA. The Secretary recognizes only the following persons:
- VA Accredited Attorneys
- VA Accredited Claims Agents
- Veteran Service Officers
Someone who counsels on VA benefits or gathers evidence for a claim, like helping to get a DD-214 or a doctor’s report who is not authorized to do so, violates the law.
Steve Dabbs is a VA Accredited Claims agent.
(11) Why Should You use a VA-Recognized Professional to Help with Your Claim?
While veterans and surviving spouses can apply for the VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension benefits without help or support, seeking help from a trained and experienced professional is wise. As already mentioned, a poorly developed application can cause delays and even denial.
Many veterans or surviving spouses believe they don’t qualify for the A&A pension. A VA-accredited agent can review your case and guide you in the right direction.
The doctor’s report on your current health and functional status plays a crucial role in deciding your eligibility. Only a VA-accredited agent can advise a doctor on how to perform a veteran’s physical evaluation.
Improperly filed claims and applications with errors are rejected by the VA. Although a veteran can re-apply or appeal the decision, the rejection could cost the veteran as much as $80,000 in lost benefits. Moreover, it could take the VA several months to process and approve the new application.
The Veterans Administration regularly makes changes to the eligibility requirements and pension rules. A VA-accredited professional can provide you with up-to-date information on your eligibility and chances of approval.
(12) What if you do not qualify because of no wartime service or your income or assets are too high? What can you do?
- Work with an accredited professional to help get your assets positioned properly so that you will qualify in the future.
- Consider applying for Medicaid (Arizona Medicaid – ALTCS).
- Consult the Veterans Directive Care Program.
In some areas of the U.S., the VA has a program called the Veterans Directive Care Program that allows in-home care for veterans and can be in addition to the VA Aid and Attendance Program. With the Veterans Directive Care Program, you do not have to be a wartime veteran to receive the benefit.
The Veterans Directive Care Program is not available to spouses or surviving spouses of a veteran. This is a veteran-only benefit. See here for more information on the Veterans Directive Care Program.
You might have heard of these benefits under a different name. The VA Aid and Attendance / Veterans Pension program is also referred to as ‘Veterans elder care benefits,’ ‘VA assisted living benefit,’ or ‘VA Improved Pension.’
The article covers several crucial points regarding the VA Aid and Attendance Benefits 2022 program, but there is more. Only a VA-accredited professional can counsel on the nuances of the special benefit program.
There is no time like the present to contact Steve Dabbs, a VA-accredited agent who can help plan and file the application.
Contact a VA-Accredited Agent for Free Consultation
Steve Dabbs is a Certified Medicaid Planner™, a VA Accredited Claims, accredited by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, and an Accredited Investment Fiduciary®. He helps people to apply and qualify for ALTCS Arizona Long-Term Care and VA Aid and Attendance Benefits.
Applying for ALTCS or VA Aid and Attendance benefits can be complicated, but Steve Dabbs can save your Time and Money by reducing delays and claims denials.
He is a Fiduciary, so as a Fiduciary, he must do what is in the best interest of his Clients.