The Aid & Attendance benefit is for veterans who need the help of another person to perform basic daily tasks. Aid & Attendance can pay for an at-home caregiver or an assisted living facility. Spouses of veterans can also qualify for this VA benefit.
What is Aid & Attendance?
Aid & Attendance is a VA benefit that helps veterans afford daily help from a caregiver. Veterans may qualify for this VA claim if they need assistance either at home or in an assisted living facility. Unlike some other VA benefits, the need for Aid & Attendance does not have to be tied to events that occurred during military service.
This means that the cause of your mesothelioma does not have to be from asbestos exposure while you were in the military. However, veterans must still meet specific requirements set by the VA to get this benefit.
How Aid & Attendance Claims Work
Aid & Attendance is available to certain military veterans and their survivors who require the assistance of another person. The money provided through Aid & Attendance is paid on top of monthly pension amounts.
Aid & Attendance benefits cannot be paid to veterans who are ineligible for pension benefits. However, since Aid & Attendance increases the pension amount, those who do not meet the yearly minimum salary levels for a basic pension may become eligible at these higher rates.
Additionally, a veteran and a surviving spouse may not receive Aid & Attendance benefits at the same time.
Veterans with mesothelioma don’t have to prove that they were exposed to asbestos in the military.
Mesothelioma takes many years to develop. Most veterans diagnosed are 65 years or older. Combined with the effects of aging and the symptoms of mesothelioma, some veterans need a caregiver. Treatment for mesothelioma may also facilitate the need for a caregiver.
The Aid & Attendance benefit helps families of mesothelioma sufferers afford the care their loved needs.
Aid & Attendance is Tied To VA Pension
Aid & Attendance is not a standalone benefit. The Veterans Administration states, “[Aid & Attendance] benefits are paid in addition to monthly pension, and they are not paid without eligibility to pension.”
Veterans with a service-related disability who need a caregiver can get this benefit. This includes veterans who developed mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure in the military. However, they must qualify for VA Pension benefits to get Aid & Attendance.
Some veterans have mesothelioma that isn’t service-related. These veterans can also qualify for the Aid & Attendance benefit as long as they get VA Pension benefits.
Upon receiving pension benefits, the VA will determine a veteran’s need for a caregiver. The VA will pay the veteran based on the A&A income limits. Below are the VA’s requirements for VA Pension eligibility.
Eligibility for Aid & Attendance
To be eligible for Aid & Attendance, veterans must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Older than 65
- Permanently disabled (disability does not need to be service-related)
- Receiving nursing care in a nursing home
- Receiving supplemental security income
- Receiving social security disability insurance
A veteran must meet the following service requirements:
- Was not dishonorably discharged from the U.S. military
- Served for 90 days of continuous military service and served at least one day during a wartime period
Wartime period dates are:
- Mexican Border Period (May 9, 1916 – April 5, 1917, for Veterans who served in Mexico, on its borders, or adjacent waters)
- World War I (April 6, 1917 – November 11, 1918)
- World War II (December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946)
- Korean conflict (June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955)
- Vietnam era (February 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period; otherwise August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975)
- Gulf War (August 2, 1990 – through a future date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation)
Veterans who entered active duty in the military after September 7th, 1980 must have served at least 24 months, or for the full period of their active duty.
Veterans must meet the following disability requirements in order to be eligible for Aid & Attendance:
- Veteran requires the aid of another person to perform daily tasks, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, using the restroom, shaving, or adjusting prosthetic devices
- Veteran is bedridden
- Veteran is confined to a nursing home because of a physical or mental condition
- Veteran’s corrected eyesight is limited to visual acuity of 5/200 or less in both eyes
A veteran’s annual countable family income must be below a limit set by Congress. Countable family income includes the income of the spouse and dependents as well as the veteran’s income.
Countable family income includes:
- Interest payments
- Disability payments
- Retirement payments
The VA excludes some forms of income, such as public assistance. A portion of unreimbursed medical expenses paid can reduce the total amount of countable income.
For 2019, Congress set the countable income limit for Aid & Attendance at $22,577 for veterans without dependents. The countable income limit for veterans with one dependent was set at $26,766.
Applying for Aid & Attendance
The first step to getting Aid & Attendance benefits is filing for VA Pension. Veterans can’t get access to Aid & Attendance without being on a pension.
To start an Aid & Attendance claim, veterans must visit the regional benefit office or write a letter to the Pension Management Center in your state. Veterans also need a physician to complete a VA Form.
The form is a two-page application that includes information such as:
- Name and social security number
- VA claim number
- Mesothelioma diagnosis
- Age, height, and weight
- Blood pressure
- General appearance
- Specific mobility issues
The letter and VA form should include all evidence that proves the veteran’s need for Aid & Attendance.
Two important details should be emphasized in the form:
- Adequate details about the veteran’s mesothelioma diagnosis, treatment history and prognosis, and how their current condition affects their ability to take care of themselves (dressing and undressing, feeding, etc.)
- Information on the veteran’s personal mobility, how well they are able to get around, what they can do in a typical day without help, and if they are housebound
If your physician highlights these details, the VA is more likely to approve you for the Aid & Attendance benefit.
Get Help Filing for Aid & Attendance
Veterans with mesothelioma who need a little extra help with daily life can apply for the Aid & Attendance benefit. This benefit will increase your monthly VA Pension payment. You can use the benefit to cover the costs of a nursing home or caregiver or to get a better quality of care.
Things to remember about Aid & Attendance eligibility:
- You must prove that you need a caregiver or assisted living
- It is a supplemental benefit for VA Pension
- Someone can help you apply for pension benefits if you haven’t already
When applying through the VA, proving your need for Aid & Attendance can be a lengthy process. VA-accredited claims agents can help guide you through this process.
They can also help you:
- Understand what documents you need to gather
- Help you gather necessary documents
- File claims for you
VA-accredited claims agents must pass an exam, be screened through a background check, and take continuing education courses to ensure they are up-to-date on current information.
Because of their knowledge and experience, you may wish to work with an agent rather than trying to apply for benefits on your own.
Our VA-accredited claims agents are here to help you file for any type of benefit. They can help you get additional Aid & Attendance benefits or start your VA Pension claim. You may also learn about other benefits that you qualify for.