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Veterans Aid and Attendance Pensions Explained

Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
October 31, 2019

In this article, we explain Veterans’ Aid and Attendance pensions for veterans and surviving spouses. We’ll answer the questions, “what is Aid and Attendance?”, “who is eligible for aid and attendance?”, and “how do I apply for aid and attendance?”. 

What is Veteran Aid and Attendance? 

Veterans and/or surviving spouses can receive a monthly pension amount in honor of their sacrifices for serving our military. The Veterans Affairs Aid and Attendance Program is a financial resource offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Who is Eligible for Veteran Aid and Attendance?

The Aid and Attendance pension is available to honorably discharged wartime veterans with 90 days of active duty and their surviving spouses. You may be eligible for Aid and Attendance if you are a wartime veteran who also meets at least one or more of the following criteria: 

·       You require help to perform necessary daily activities like showering, eating, getting dressed, using the restroom, adjusting          prosthetic devices, etc. 

·       You are bedridden, meaning your disability requires you to stay in bed when you are not receiving medical treatment.

·       You are a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity. 

·       You have corrected visual acuity of 5/200 or less in both eyes.

·       You have concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less. 

Veterans and survivors who are eligible for VA Pension Benefits can be supplemented by Aid and Attendance payments for those who meet these criteria. These additional monetary payments are paid on top of monthly pension, and they are not paid without eligibility to Pension. Surviving spouses and dependent children of veterans who have died may also be eligible for similar benefits through the VA Survivors Pension Program.

Surviving spouses may be eligible for Aid and Attendance if they meet all of the following conditions: 

·       The surviving spouse must have met the conditions to be married under VA rules, meaning a marriage lasting at least one         year or a child was born as a result of the marriage, regardless of the length of time married. Under certain conditions, the         VA will accept common-law marriages and marriages where the couple intended to marry but purposely postponed their         marriage (with evidence).

·       The surviving spouse must have lived continuously with the veteran while they were married, unless they were separated         due to the fault of the veteran (with evidence). 

·       The surviving spouse must have been married to the veteran when the veteran died. 

·       The surviving spouse cannot have remarried after the veteran’s death, even if the surviving spouse is currently single.          However, if the surviving spouse remarried after the veteran’s death and the second marriage was terminated through          death or divorce prior to November 1, 1990, and the surviving spouse has since remained single, he or she is eligible. 

·       If the surviving spouse was married more than once and the most recent marriage was to a veteran who served during a         period of war, and that marriage ended in the death of the veteran, and the surviving spouse did not remarry, the surviving         spouse is eligible. 

How much does a Veteran Aid and Attendance Pension pay? 

The Aid and Attendance pension can provide financial support in the following amounts: 

·       Up to $1,758/month to veterans

·       Up to $1,130/month to surviving spouses

·       Up to $2,085/month to a couple

·       Up to $1,380/month to a veteran with a sick spouse

How do I apply for Veteran Aid and Attendance? 

Aid and Attendance benefits are not automatic; you have to apply to receive benefits. In order to apply for pension at the Aid and Attendance rate, you must complete VA Form 21-2680, “Examination for Housebound or Permanent Need for Regular Aid and Attendance.” You’ll have to provide evidence of your need for Aid and Attendance, like a formal report from your physician confirming your disability or personal statements regarding your inability to complete daily activities and other tasks.

If you are not already receiving VA pension benefits, you’ll have to submit a formal application in addition to Form 21-2680 to the Pension Management Center for Illinois. You’ll have to submit thorough documentation, including social security number, VA file number (where applicable), military history, personal financial information, employment history, direct deposit information (bank account and routing numbers), and medical health information. 

What if I’m denied Veteran Aid and Attendance Benefits?

If your application for Aid and Attendance is denied, you should receive a detailed explanation of why your case wasn’t accepted. If you truly are eligible for Aid and Attendance, try not to appeal the case. Instead, file a form that allows you to provide additional information you may have missed the first time. 

Can lawyers charge veterans to expedite paperwork for Aid and Attendance? 

No. Nobody can legally charge a veteran or a veteran’s spouse for completing or expediting VA pension paperwork. 

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