How do I apply for Aid and Attendance Benefits through the VA?

VA Aid and Attendance BenefitsHave you looked at a government website lately?  Wow, are they hard to navigate.  If you don’t know exactly what you are looking for, you’re going to have a hard time finding it.  Calling the government and finding answers is even harder.  Veterans find this very frustrating.

I’m going to do my best to help you understand the ins and outs of applying for the VA Aid and Attendance and Housebound Pension Plan.

Applying for the Aid & Attendance and Housebound Pension can be a huge undertaking. Here is a definition from the VA Government website:

“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 pension at these increased rates. A Veteran or surviving spouse may not receive Aid and Attendance benefits and Housebound benefits at the same time.”

My recommendation to family caregivers is to familiarize yourself with the VA website first before you contact your VA regional office and collect the following documents.

Discharge/Separation Papers (DD-214). If you need to request a copy, you can either fill out an SF 180  or, you can visit http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/  and follow the instructions on the website. (Keep in mind when you are filling out this form…  Requesting a DD-214 takes approximately two weeks.  If you also check the “medical records” box it could take months to locate.  They will not send you anything until they have everything.  You don’t need medical records to apply, just a copy of your military records (DD-214)

Copy of Marriage Certificate and all marital information.

Copy of the Death Certificate (only if you are a surviving spouse of an eligible VET).

Copy of current Social Security Benefit Award Letter. (You can request this from a local office or it can be requested online).

Applicant’s net worth, this includes bank accounts, CDs, Trusts, Stocks, Bonds, Annuities, etc.

Insurance premiums, medications, medical bills or any other non-reimbursable medical expenses.

Physician orders that includes 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 is able to do during a typical day. In addition, it is necessary to determine whether the claimant is confined to the home or immediate premises.

Banking information for Direct Deposit of Aid and Attendance monthly payments (include a voided check).

Now that you have collected all the documents you are ready to complete the VA Form 21-526   (Use this form if you currently have a disability that is the result of an injury, disease, or an event in military service) and/or VA  Form 21-534  (Use this form if your applying for VA benefits you may be entitled to receive as a surviving spouse or child of a deceased veteran)

The instructions for these forms are right on the form.  These links also take you to a fillable form that can be filled out online and saved.

Always verify the correct mailing address, as this could delay benefits.

Always mail your application certified so you can track it and avoid the potential of the VA stating that the application was not received.

Always keep a copy of everything and never mail the originals unless they specifically request something.   Then ask if a certified copy would work?

How do I qualify for VA benefits and what are those criteria’s?

To be eligible for the VA’s Aid and Attendance Benefit program you must meet certain parameters.  You must have served 90 days of active duty, 1 day beginning or ending during the following Wartime Periods…

Under current law, VA recognizes the following wartime periods to determine eligibility for VA Pension benefits:

  • 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)

Other parameters are financial and the type care that is needed. If your loved one is eligible for these benefits, they can use these funds to offset the cost for the care at home.  This can seem difficult, but it’s manageable if you follow the steps. 

Update (2020): Current time to process VA Benefits can range from 3-5 months.

Family Caregiver Plan