Suffolk County, NY Veterans' Benefits Blog

Monday, March 25, 2013

Aid and Attendance Pension

Question: My mother is recently widowed and is thinking of moving into an assisted living community.  My father was a Veteran who served during World War II.  I have heard that there may be funds available to assist her pay for her stay at assisted living, is this correct?


Answer: What you are likely referring to is the Aid and Attendance Pension.  The Aid and Attendance Pension is part of the Veteran’s Administration Improved Pension Program which currently consists of three tiers.  Aid and Attendance is the third tier of the program and it provides benefits for veterans and surviving spouses who require the regular attendance of another person to complete activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, dressing and cooking.   Care received in an assisted living qualifies as the level of care required to meet the criteria for the Aid and Attendance Pension.  While it is not necessary for you to require assistance with all of the activities listed, you will have to provide documentation from a physician that you cannot function completely on your own and that you require the aid and attendance of another person to care and protect you from the hazards and dangerous incidents of daily living.  Any war time veteran or his or her spouse is eligible for this benefit so long as the veteran served at least ninety (90) days of active duty, with at least one (1) of those days served during a war time period.  It is important to note that it is not necessary for the veteran to have served in the war, only that he was enlisted during wartime.  


Because Aid and Attendance is a needs based program, in order to qualify you must also meet certain financial criteria based on both assets and income.  For a veteran or his or her spouse to qualify he cannot have more than $80.000.00 in assets, this figure does not include the value of the veteran’s primary residence, vehicle or life insurance policies.  Please note that real property other than primary residence will be considered when calculating the $80,000.00.  With respect to income, while there is no set number, the veteran must be able to show that his “Countable Income” is less than the pension amount to be paid.  Countable Income is equal to the income that a Veteran or his spouse received each year after deducting all un-reimbursed recurring health expenses.  Un-reimbursed recurring health expenses can include the cost of  a stay in an Assisted Living, any amount paid for private health insurance premiums and premium for Medicare.  So for example, assume that a Veteran receives $28,800.00 in total income from a private pension and social security.  Now assume that the cost for him to stay in an assisted living is $20,000.00 annually, he also pays for his private health insurance at $1,800.00 per year and a Medicare premium of $1,500.00 per year.  Using these numbers, our veteran has total recurring medical expenses of $23,300.00 reducing his countable income to $5,500.00.  Subtracting his countable income from the $19,728.00 annual benefit, our veteran would be entitled to an annual Aid and Attendance Pension of $14,228.00, providing them with a monthly payment of $1,185.66.


In closing, these are valuable benefits that should not be overlooked.  Applying for and receiving these benefits can bridge the gap, and enable a veteran to either stay at home or in an assisted living of their choice when they may otherwise have not been able to. 


By: Nancy Burner, Esq. and Robin Burner Daleo, Esq.

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Burner Law Group, P.C. has offices in Setauket & Westhampton Beach, New York and serves clients throughout Long Island, Nassau County, Suffolk County, and the Hamptons, including Port Jefferson, Centerreach, Saint James, Mount Sinai, Lake Grove, Smithtown, Coram, Farmingville and Nesconset.

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