Are you a veteran or surviving spouse applying for the Aid and Attendance pension benefit? Here are answers to frequently asked questions about this little known benefit available to veterans and spouses.
What is the Aid & Attendance Pension?
The Aid and Attendance (A&A) Pension provides benefits that reduce the cost of senior care for veterans and surviving spouses who require assisted living.
Am I eligible for the Aid & Attendance pension?
Any wartime veteran with 90 days of active duty, 1 day beginning or ending during a period of war, is eligible to apply for the Aid & Attendance Improved Pension. A surviving spouse (marriage must have ended due to death of veteran) of a wartime veteran may also apply. The individual applying must qualify both medically and financially. This free, one-minute questionnaire can better help determine if you may be eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit.
What is the difference between wartime and peacetime service?
Military service is classified either as wartime or peacetime service. This distinction is important because there are significant advantages specifically accruing only to veterans with wartime service. For example, only veterans with wartime service are eligible for non-service-connected pension benefits like Aid and Attendance.
The following list sets out the periods of wartime designated by Congress for pension purposes. To be considered by the VA to have served during wartime, a veteran need not have served in a combat zone, but simply during one of these designated periods. All other times are considered peacetime.
Some veterans served part of their tour of duty during wartime and part during peacetime. Even if a majority of a veteran’s service occurred during peacetime, the service member would still meet the wartime service requirement for eligibility for pension benefits if he or she served ninety consecutive days, at least one day of which occurred during a period designated as wartime. All of the listed dates are inclusive.
- Indian Wars: January 1, 1817, through December 31, 1898. The veteran must have served thirty days or more, or for the duration of such Indian War. Service must have been with the U.S. forces against Indian tribes or nations.
- Spanish-American War: April 21, 1898, through July 4, 1902, including the Philippine Insurrection and the Boxer Rebellion. Also included are those individuals engaged in the Moro Province hostilities through July 15, 1903.
- Mexican Border War: May 9, 1916, through April 5, 1917. The veteran must have served for one day or more in Mexico, on the borders thereof, or in the waters adjacent thereto.
- World War I: April 6, 1917, through November 11, 1918, extended to April 1, 1920, for those who served in the Soviet Union. Service after November 11, 1918, through July 2, 1921, qualifies for benefits purposes if active duty was performed for any period during the basic World War I period.
- World War II: December 7, 1941, through December 31, 1946, extended to July 25, 1947, where continuous with active duty on or before December 31, 1946
- Korean Conflict: June 27, 1950, through January 31, 1955.
- Vietnam Era: August 5, 1964, through May 7, 1975.90 However, February 28, 1961, through May 7, 1975, for a veteran who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period.
- Persian Gulf War: August 2, 1990, through a date to be prescribed by Presidential proclamation or law.
Congress has not enacted legislation that would make the periods covering the 1983-1984 Lebanon crisis or the invasions of Grenada and Panama wartime service.
How do I apply for Aid & Attendance?
There are three main steps in the application process: gathering the necessary documents, filling out the correct application form to submit to the VA with the necessary documents, and mailing all of the documents to the correct pension processing center. Head on over to our How to Apply page to find out more.
Is there any way to start the application process while I gather all the documents?
You can submit a one-page VA Form 21-0966 (INTENT TO FILE A CLAIM FOR COMPENSATION AND/OR PENSION, OR SURVIVORS PENSION AND/OR DIC) which will get the claim into the system.
How long does it take to process the application and get approved?
This is a difficult question to answer. Much depends on the VA regional office for your area. On average, 6 to 8 months seems to be the normal approval time at the moment. Some approvals come through in as little as 6 weeks, but these are the exception. We know of people still waiting for an approval 12 months from the date of filing.
Keep in mind that if the benefit is approved, it is applied retroactively to the date of application. Also, if the applicant is over 90 years old, include a letter requesting that the application be expedited. The VA is supposed to give priority to any application for benefits by a veteran age 90 or older.