Many families with loved ones who served in the armed forces may not be aware of benefits known as veteran's aid and attendance. Aid and attendance is a pension benefit that is intended to help veterans who are housebound or need the assistance of another individual with their daily living activities. Veteran's aid and attendance benefits can help pay for the costs of this care or the costs of living in a residential care facility.
Aid and attendance is available to veterans who have served during a war who need assistance in meeting their daily care needs. The need for aid does not have to be related to service-related injuries. It is a pension benefit that is available to qualifying veterans age 65 and older who meet certain qualifications. To be eligible for veteran's aid and attendance, the following service and medical requirements must be met.
- The veteran must have served at least 90 days of active duty with at least one of those days being served during wartime
- The veteran must have received a discharge that was other than dishonorable
- The veteran must require assistance with some of their activities of daily living such as moving from a bed to a chair, attaching a prosthetic device, eating, dressing or grooming.
- The veteran is bedridden or requires full-time care in a residential setting due to a physical or mental incapacity.
- The veteran's eyesight is limited to 5/200 vision with correction in both eyes or contraction of the visual field to five degrees or less.
A veteran is considered housebound if he or she is substantially confined to a home or residential living facility by reason of physical or mental limitations, and he or she is expected to remain confined to his or her home or a residential care facility for the remainder of his or her lifetime.
Applicants must meet income and financial requirements to be eligible for veteran's aid and attendance benefits. Each application will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Income from all sources, including other benefits, will be considered. The Veteran's Administration refers to this as Income for Veteran's Assistance Purposes or IVAP. If an applicant's income is equal to or greater than an annual benefit amount after medical expenses are deducted, the applicant will not be eligible for benefits.
A wartime veteran's spouse may also be eligible for veteran's aid and attendance if all the other requirements are met. Special rules apply to veterans who need to enter residential care to qualify for benefits even if he or she would not meet the income requirements otherwise.
Applying for veteran's aid and assistance is a lengthy and complex process. It is a good idea to speak with an attorney with experience handling these applications since a denial could cause a costly delay in benefits. Additionally, applicants who have been denied must wait a year to reapply. Failing to meet a technical requirement on an application can result in a denial for a veteran who could have otherwise successfully applied for benefits.
Applications may be submitted in writing to the state Pension Management Center along with supporting documentation regarding the veteran's care needs. The application should contain details about the veteran's daily needs, what assistance may be required, where the veteran goes during a typical day, whether or not the veteran is housebound, and other information related to the applicant's physical and mental conditions.
An attorney can help individuals who do not meet financial and income guidelines establish a trust to help them with qualifying for veteran's aid and attendance. Doing so can be complex, so an attorney with experience in estate planning should be consulted if taking this step may be necessary.
Following are the maximum monthly benefits for veterans and survivors in 2019. Note that these amounts are subject to change and that less may be awarded, depending on the circumstances.
- Maximum monthly benefit for a single veteran: $1,881
- Maximum monthly benefit for surviving spouse: $1,208
- Maximum monthly benefit for a married veteran: $2,229
- Maximum monthly benefit for a married veteran couple $2,984
One thing to keep in mind is that veteran's aid and assistance may be awarded to veterans in addition to any other pensions, retirement account payments, and disability benefits that the veteran may be receiving.
Contact an Estate Planning Attorney in Tennessee
If you have questions about veteran's aid and assistance and the application process in Tennessee, contact Nina Whitehurst at Cumberland Legacy Law online to schedule a consultation, or call (931) 250-4820.