The following example is a fairly common scenario among older adults and veterans: Robert, a World War II vet and Pittsburgh native, had reached a point where he needed help with activities of daily living and wanted to move into an assisted living facility; but the cost to live there exceeded his monthly income. One day, his son inquired with the Veteran’s Administration and learned that if his father qualified, he may be eligible for a benefit called Aid & Attendance (A&A). As it turns out, Robert did quality, and is now able to receive a monthly amount that makes the assisted living facility that he now calls home affordable to him.
Through A&A, veterans and survivors who are eligible for a VA pension and require the aid and attendance of another person, or are housebound, may be eligible for additional monetary payment. Since A&A and Housebound allowances increase the pension amount, people who are not eligible for a basic pension due to excessive income may be eligible for pension at these increased rates. The program is available to veterans or to the single surviving spouses of deceased veterans. The veteran had to have served on active duty at least 90 days with one of those days during a period of war. Service in combat is not required, only that the veteran was in the service during wartime and was discharged honorably. The veteran doesn’t have to have a disability.
Surprisingly, one quarter of US citizens age 65 and older have a potential for receiving a Pension benefit, as that’s how many war veterans or their survivors are in the country. Right here in Allegheny County, for example, more soldiers from the city of Swissvale died in World War II than any other city in United States.
Criteria for Aid & Attendance and Housebound
The A&A increased monthly pension amount may be added to your monthly pension amount if you meet one of the following conditions:
• You require the aid of another person in order to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, toileting, adjusting prosthetic devices or protecting yourself from the hazards of your daily environment.
• You are bedridden, in that your disability or disabilities require that you remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment.
• You are a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity.
• Your eyesight is limited to a corrected 5/200 visual acuity or less in both eyes, or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.
• If you are housebound: This increased monthly pension amount may be added to your monthly pension amount when you are substantially confined to your immediate premises because of permanent disability. (A veteran or surviving spouse may not receive Aid and Attendance benefits and Housebound benefits at the same time.)
• In addition, your total assets must be under $80,000 but this does not include your primary home
How to apply
To apply, write to the VA regional office where you filed a claim for pension benefits (or any VA regional office). Include copies of any evidence, preferably a report from an attending physician validating the need for Aid and Attendance or Housebound type care. PSN
For more information about the Aid and Attendance program, call (800) 827-1000 or visit Benefits.va.gov/pension.
By Gina Mazza
For Pittsburgh Senior News