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.
How Aid & Attendance Claims Work
Unlike some other benefits, Aid & Attendance is not tied to military service. The cause of your mesothelioma doesn’t have to be from asbestos exposure in the military, but veterans must still meet specific requirements set by the VA to get this benefit.
Typically veterans with mesothelioma don’t have to prove the names of products containing asbestos they were exposed to in the military. The veteran’s military occupation can place them in a location known to the VA to have caused all such veterans in that location to have been exposed to asbestos.
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. Common symptoms of mesothelioma include shortness of breath, limited mobility, and chest or abdominal pain. 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 Eligibility for VA Pension
Aid & Attendance is not a stand-alone benefit. The Veterans Administration states that, “[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. They must qualify for VA Pension benefits to get A&A.
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.
Once you get pension benefits, the VA will determine your 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 (A&A)
To be eligible for Aid & Attendance through VA Pension, veterans must meet one of the following conditions:
- Must be older than 65
- Permanently disabled (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:
- World War II (December 7th, 1941 until December 31st, 1946)
- Korean conflict (June 27th, 1950 until January 31st, 1955)
- Vietnam era (August 5th, 1964 until May 7th, 1975)
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 physical or mental reasons
- 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.
Countable family income includes earnings, interest payments, disability payments and 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 vets without dependents who are housebound at $15,394 or less. The countable income limit for veterans with dependents was set at $20,692 or less.
Applying for Aid & Attendance
The first step to getting A&A benefits is filing for VA Pension. Veterans can’t get access to Aid & Attendance without being on a pension.
To start an A&A claim, you must visit the regional benefits office to file the claim. If the office is too far, you can write a letter to the Pension Management Center in your state. You also need a physician to complete a VA Form 21-2680. This is a 2-page application that includes information such as:
- Name and social security number
- VA claim number
- Mesothelioma diagnosis
- Age, height, weight
- Blood pressure
- General appearance
- Specific mobility issues
Your letter and VA form should include all evidence that proves your need for Aid & Attendance. There are 2 important details that should be emphasized in your medical report.
Your report should include:
- Adequate details about the veteran’s mesothelioma diagnosis, treatment history and prognosis, and how his current condition affects his ability to take care of himself (dressing and undressing, feeding himself, etc.)
- Information on the veteran’s personal mobility, how well he is able to get around, what he can do in a typical day without help and if he is housebound
If your physician highlights these details, the VA is more likely to approve you for the A&A benefit.
Get Help Filing for Aid & Attendance
Veterans with mesothelioma who need a little extra help with daily life can apply for the A&A 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 you can use the benefit to get a better quality of care.
Things to remember about A&A eligibility:
- You have to 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
The VA Aid & Attendance filing process can seem difficult. Especially when your focus needs to be on your health. Our VA-accredited claims agents are here to help you:
- File for any type of benefits
- Help you get additional A&A benefits
- Start your VA Pension claim
- Learn about other benefits that you may qualify for