Contributed by Major Mike Dryden, AVN USAR Retired
Some Veterans, as they age, find themselves to be financial straits with little or no resources and in poor health. If this is your case, then I urge you to consider applying for a VA Pension and especially the Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits.
Under current law, VA recognizes the following wartime periods to determine eligibility for VA Pension benefits:
Eligible Wartime Periods
• 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 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. These benefits are paid in addition to monthly pension, and they are not paid without eligibility to Pension.
Since Aid and Attendance and Housebound allowances increase the pension amount, people who are not eligible for a basic pension due to excessive income may be eligible for a pension at these increased rates. A Veteran or surviving spouse may not receive Aid and Attendance benefits and Housebound benefits at the same time.
Aid & Attendance (A&A)
The Aid & Attendance (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 to perform personal functions required in everyday living. Such as: Bathing, feeding, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting yourself from the hazards of your daily environment.
• You are bedridden, in that your disability or disabilities requires 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.
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.
How to Apply
You may apply for Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits by writing to the Pension Management Center (PMC) that serves your state. You may also visit your local regional benefit office to file your request. You can locate your local regional benefit office using the VA Facility Locator.
You should include copies of any evidence, preferably a report from an attending physician validating the need for Aid and Attendance or Housebound type care.
• The report should be in sufficient detail to determine whether there is disease or injury producing physical or mental impairment, loss of coordination, or conditions affecting the ability to dress and undress, to feed oneself, to attend to sanitary needs, and to keep oneself ordinarily clean and presentable.
• Whether the claim is for Aid and Attendance or Housebound, the report should indicate how well the applicant gets around, where the applicant goes, and what he or she can do during a typical day. Also, it is necessary to determine whether the claimant is confined to the home or immediate premises.
As is the case for this and any other VA benefit, you should take your DD 214 to one of the service organization representatives at your local Veteran Center, VA clinic or hospital. The service rep will enter all your information on the proper forms and file it that day.
Be prepared to wait up to a year for your notification, but your benefits will be retroactive to your filing date. Regardless of your situation, you should file. You have earned this benefit so don’t lose this valuable benefit.
For more information on this and any other VA benefit, go to www.benefits.va.gov.