Aid & Attendance Frequently Asked Questions
Aid and Attendance (A&A) Frequently Asked Questions
Families applying for the Aid and Attendance benefit often have lots of questions. Here are answers to some of the most common ones.
What Is the A&A Pension?
The VA A&A pension benefit provides a monthly payment to veterans and surviving spouses who need daily assistance at home, in assisted living or in a nursing home.
Who Is Eligible?
Veterans who served on active duty for at least 90 consecutive days, including at least one day during wartime, may be eligible for Aid and Attendance if they also qualify for the basic Veterans Pension and meet the A&A clinical and financial requirements.
Service in a combat zone is not an eligibility requirement. Widowed spouses of eligible veterans may also qualify if they meet the clinical and income requirements and have not remarried.
How Is Wartime Service Defined?
Congress defines the periods of wartime that the VA uses to determine which veterans are eligible for benefits like A&A, as:
- 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 Presidential proclamation or law. For VA benefits purposes, this time of war is still in effect
How Do I Apply for A&A?
There are three main steps in the application process:
- Gather the necessary documents.
- Fill out the correct application form to submit to the VA with the necessary documents.
- Mail your application form and all the documents to the correct pension processing center.
Find the details on our "How to Apply" page.
Is There a Way to Start the Application Process Now?
You can submit the one-page VA Form 21-0966 to get your claim into the system. You must submit the full application within a year.
How Long Does the Application Take to Process?
Approval time varies and depends on the workload at the VA Pension Management Center for your region. For many applicants, it takes roughly nine months to get approved. Don’t let this discourage you from applying. Once you or your loved one have A&A approval, the first benefit payment is a lump sum covering all the time between the date you filed the application and the date of approval.
If the applicant is over 90 years old, you can include a letter with the application requesting that it be expedited. The VA is supposed to prioritize applications from veterans age 90 and older.
What Are the Current A&A Maximum Monthly Benefits?
The current A&A benefit amounts can be found on our "Eligibility" page.
Is There a Lookback Period for A&A Applications?
Yes, in October 2018, the VA implemented a three-year lookback period for asset transfers preceding new benefit applications. Asset transfers that are deemed below market value or which would have otherwise put the applicant above the eligibility threshold may cause a delay before you or your loved one can start receiving A&A benefit payments.
Can I apply for A&A If Compensation Has Already Been Received?
You cannot receive disability compensation and the A&A pension benefit at the same time. However, if the A&A benefit you’re eligible for is more than the amount of your disability compensation, you may want to apply for A&A.
The VA will pay you the higher amount if it approves your application. You can see VA disability compensation tables here. Make sure you’re already receiving the maximum possible disability compensation before you apply for A&A so that you have a valid basis for comparison.
If you apply for A&A in this situation, keep in mind that your current disability compensation is not countable income. It’s a good idea to include VA Form 21-4138 (Statement in Support of Claim) and use it to explain that you receive disability compensation but you want the VA to pick the benefit you qualify for which pays the most.
If you have questions about health issues that are secondary to a service-connected disability or whether you qualify for Special Monthly Compensation in addition to disability compensation, talk to a Veteran Service Officer to go over the specifics of your situation.
What Documents Do I Need to Include in the Application?
There are at least nine forms and documents you’ll need to include in your A&A application. That number will increase if you include all the highly suggested forms and relevant supporting documentation. You can find a complete list on our "How to Apply" page.
Be sure to include VA form 21-0845 (Authorization to Disclose Personal Information to a Third Party) if you are filing for your loved one and need to oversee the application process. Without this authorization, the VA cannot discuss the application with you.
What Is the Difference Between A&A and Housebound Pension Benefits?
The Housebound pension benefit is available for qualified veterans and surviving spouses who are “substantially confined to your immediate premises because of permanent disability.” For example, a veteran who needs care at home because he only leaves the house to go to doctor appointments and physical therapy could be eligible for Housebound benefits.
To be eligible for the Housebound Benefit:
- A single veteran must have a yearly countable income of less than $16,540
- A married veteran must have a yearly countable income of less than $20,731 a year
This worksheet can help you calculate your countable income.
The application process for Housebound is almost identical to the process for Aid and Attendance and uses the same forms. However, the qualifying income limits are lower for Housebound than for A&A.
Are the A&A Pension Benefits Taxable?
No, VA benefits, including the Aid and Attendance benefit, are not taxable.
Can I Receive Both A&A and Medicaid?
It’s possible, but it may not be worth the effort and time to apply for A&A if you already receive Medicaid. A&A will pay no more than $92 per month to a recipient who is also eligible for Medicaid unless the recipient is a state veterans home resident.
Does the VA Recognize Power of Attorney?
The VA does not recognize power of attorney and has its own procedure for appointing a fiduciary representative for a veteran or spouse who cannot manage their affairs. Even if you have power of attorney for emergencies, it’s more efficient to have your parent or loved one handle and sign their own application if they’re capable of doing so.
You can find more information on the VA fiduciary process here, or contact your region’s VA Fiduciary Hub office to begin the fiduciary application process. The fiduciary selection process includes in-person interviews, a background check, and periodic reviews. It can take several months to complete.
How Do I Determine Countable Income?
Figuring out your countable income is easy, but you’ll need to be able to show the VA how you got your total. This worksheet can help. You’re not required to submit the worksheet with your application but you will need to provide proof of your income when you apply.
What Assisted Living Expenses Can Be Deducted?
All assisted living costs can be deducted from your countable expenses.
If My Parents Sell Their Home Before Moving Into Assisted Living, Will the Money From the Sale Count as Income?
If your parents have already been approved for A&A, the VA will count the net proceeds from the sale of their home as assets unless they spend down that money within the same calendar year that they sell their home. If the money they make from the sale of their home puts them over the eligibility limit, benefit payments will be suspended until those assets are spent down. If they have not yet applied for A&A, net proceeds from the home sale will count as assets in figuring eligibility.
What Is a VA File Number?
The A&A application form requests a VA file number only if you’ve filed a VA claim before. If this is your first time filing an application, leave the VA file number box empty.
Where Can I Find More Information?
For comprehensive information on VA benefit programs for veterans and their families, you can read the VA 2018 Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents, and Survivors handbook online. You can also download a printable copy in English or Spanish.
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