VA Aid and Attendance Benefit – Updated Information for 2020
By Jami Scott, Medicaid/VA Specialist, Elder Law Associates PA
The VA Aid and Attendance benefit is provided to a veteran and/or his or her surviving spouse if they meet certain criteria. The veteran must be at least 65 years old or older; must have served at least 90 days in active duty, with at least one day during a time of war (see below); must have an honorable discharge; and requires the regular assistance by another person with at least two activities of daily living (ADLs). The main ADLs include self-feeding, bathing, dressing, transferring, toileting and ambulation. This benefit has been helpful to many veterans or their spouses to pay for long-term care, whether this is at home, in an Assisted Living Facility or nursing home, or by providing a special monthly pension income to cover ongoing and recurring medical expenses.
What dates are defined as War time?
The following dates have been determined by Congress to be times of war:
- WORLD WAR II: December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946
- KOREAN WAR: June 27, 1950 to January 31, 1955
- VIETNAM ERA: February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975 (for veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam); otherwise, August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975
- GULF WAR: August 2, 1990, with the ending date pending a Presidential proclamation or law (technically, for benefits purposes, this time of war is still ongoing).
What are the financial requirements to obtain benefits?
A veteran’s net worth and family income must meet certain limits set by Congress in order to receive Aid and Attendance benefits. The net worth calculation counts the annual income and the value of all bank accounts and investments. The net worth calculation does not include your home, car and most personal belongings as part of your net worth. The maximum net worth an individual may have while still qualifying for the VA Aid and Attendance benefits as of December 1, 2019, is $129,094. The maximum net worth increases by the same percentages as the cost of living increases with Social Security.
Countable income is how much you earn throughout the year. This income can be made up of Social Security benefits, pensions, retirement payments, and if you are married, income of your spouse as well. Non-reimbursed medical expenses (i.e., supplemental Insurance premiums, private duty aides, assisted living facility room and board, etc.) may reduce the amount of income used to calculate net worth.
What is the MARP?
The MAPR is the Maximum Annual Pension Rate a veteran may qualify for. It is based on how many dependents the veteran has, including children under 18, or disabled since birth, and/or a spouse. However, the MAPR is reduced by household income to determine how much pension the veteran or surviving spouse may receive. For example, a qualified veteran with a spouse (who is a non-veteran) have a combined yearly income of $20,000. The MAPR rate for a married veteran is $27,195. Subtract the yearly income and the veteran will receive $7,195 per year in pension income.
However, let’s say that the veteran has unreimbursed medical expenses. The private duty aide he requires because he is not able to walk and has memory issues costs about $15,000 per year. His new pension calculation would be $22,195 per year ($27,195 MAPR – $20,000 yearly income = $7,195. Then add back the $15,000 spent for a private aide, and that brings the MAPR to $22,195 per year).
It is always advisable to have recurring medical expenses that “zero out” one’s monthly income, so as to ensure the maximum MAPR may be received.
See the chart below for the MAPR for each category, effective December 1, 2019:
|Single Veteran with a dependent child||$2,266||$27,195|
|Married Veteran with a spouse who needs care||$1,500||$18,008|
|Surviving Spouse with no dependents||$1,228||$14,742|
|2 Married Veterans||$3,032||$36,387|
If you would like more information about qualifying for the VA Aid and Attendance benefit, please visit our website at www.elderlawassociates.com or contact us at 1-800-ELDERLAW or (561) 750-3850 to schedule a consultation with our firm. With careful planning, most families can become eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit immediately. However, the review process by the VA may take several months or more in some cases, so it is important to file for these benefits as soon as possible.