VA Aid and Attendance is one of the highest paying awards when it comes to non-service-connected veterans benefits. In 2020, an eligible surviving spouse could receive $1,228 each month, and this award is adjusted for cost of living increases annually. That amount is significant enough that it lifts a financial burden off families who need to pay for care-giving services. So what does it take to qualify? This post is specific to surviving spouses. Our previous post specific to a veteran is here. (add hyperlink after posting the veteran version that was sent last month)
Marriage is key step of eligibility
The initial step is to examine the veteran’s military service. He or she must not have left military service with a dishonorable discharge. The other service-related requirement involves the timing of that service: The veteran must have 90 days of active duty with at least one day served during an eligible wartime period. You can find a list of eligible wartime periods here.
The next steps for a surviving spouse are significant: length and validity of marriage, and current marital status. A surviving spouse must have been married to the veteran for at least one year, and must have been married to the veteran at the time of death. After the death of the veteran, the surviving spouse must have not remarried. For VA Aid and Attendance, the VA wants documentation for any previous marriages and how they ended, so plan to provide marriage certificates. If a previous marriage ended in divorce, get a copy of the divorce decree. If a marriage ended in death, a death certificate – the long form showing cause of death – will be required.
Other eligibility matters
Then the path to eligibility returns to the same track as a veteran. Congress sets the income and net worth limits. A VA-accredited attorney can explain how these limits are navigated.
Then, at least one of these must be true: You are 65 years old or older; you have a permanent and total disability; you are receiving long-term care in a facility because of a disability; or you are getting Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.
But wait, there’s more
The above are the requirements for the Veteran Pension. To receive the Aid and Attendance benefit, at least one of the following must be true:
You need the assistance of another person to perform activities of daily living (defined as bathing, feeding, dressing, ambulating and transferring);
You must remain in bed because of illness;
You are in a nursing home because of a mental or physical abilities related to a disability;
Or your eyesight meets VA requirements to be considered blind.
Next comes proving all that to the VA. This requires a set of forms and evidence, generally involving care facilities, your physician, your finances and patience. At Mortellaro Law, our VA-accredited attorney can explain the process at a no-cost initial consultation. All you have to do is call for an in-office or telephone appointment.