By J.P. McCormick, Summer Associate
Many veterans are unaware of a significant benefit to which they are entitled through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Called the Aid and Attendance and Housebound Improved Pension Benefit (“A&A”), this benefit helps to cover the cost of caregivers in the home or for assisted-living facilities or a nursing home. The benefit would even cover children who are paid to be caregivers, although does not cover spouses who act in this capacity. Covering up to $2,019 per month for a veteran and spouse, and up to $1,094 for the widow of a veteran, this little known benefit is not insignificant, and needs to get more attention.
To be eligible for A&A, a veteran must have logged at least one day of their 90-day minimum military service during a time of war, and need caregiving for daily activities. It is important to note that the veteran need not have been injured. And while they must be “totally disabled,” this is a misleading term because when a war time veteran turns 65 years-of-age they are automatically deemed “totally disabled.”
Just how well kept is this secret? The New Old Age reports that in 2011, only 38,076 veterans and 38,685 spouses received the A&A benefit, of the 1.7 million World War II veterans alive at that time. This benefit is being underused and could help many struggling veterans.
The forms can be complicated to fill out, but resources such as VeteranAid.org (http://www.veteranaid.org/) exist which helps provide the proper forms and advice for filling them out. Lastly, it is important to be mindful of scams: the Department of Veterans Affairs forbids anyone from charging a veteran to help fill out this form, and some “companies” promise to fill out the forms for free and then charge massive financial consultation fees.
If you believe you may have been a victim of such a scam, you can contact CLDDS at 772-797-1600, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to speak to one of our Certified Elder Law Attorneys (CELA), Annemarie Schreiber or Diana Anderson, who would be happy to assist you.