VA Estate Planning and Elder Care Benefits (Part III) – Aid and Attendance and Housebound Benefit
The VA Aid and Attendance Benefit and the Housebound Allowance provide additional monthly payments to qualified Veterans and survivors. These payments are in addition to the basic pension they may already be receiving. The VA’s description of the program can be found here.
I. Eligibility Criteria
To receive benefits, you must first establish your eligibility for a VA pension. Enhanced pensions, such as Housebound, are based on a higher income limit. Therefore, veterans who are not eligible for financial reasons to a basic pension may still be eligible for increased pension benefits.
A. Aid and Attendance: The Veteran or Surviving Spouse must meet one of the following physical limitations:
a. The recipient requires another person’s aid in daily life activities (ADLs). (For VA purposes, the ADLs are eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, or transferring (such as between a bed and a chair/wheelchair).);
b. Due to illness, the recipient is required to spend large portions of the day in bed;
c. The recipient is a patient in a nursing home due to loss of mental or physical abilities related to a disability; OR
d. The recipient has limited corrected eyesight. (Even with glasses or contact lenses, the applicant has only 5/200 or less in both eyes or visual field limited to 5 degrees or less.)
B. Housebound Benefit: The recipient must spend most of their time in their home due to a permanent disability.
II. Amount of Benefit Available
A veteran’s income and the amount of pension they are due are linked. For the Aid & Attendance benefits, the VA decides the Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR) that any veteran can receive. A veteran eligible for an Aid and Attendance Benefit has a higher MAPR than a non-eligible VA pensioner.
For example, in 2022, the MAPR for a single veteran is $14,753, but that same veteran eligible for a housebound benefit has an MAPR of $18,029. Even better, a veteran eligible for Aid and Attendance has an MAPR of $24,610. So if the veteran had a $12,000 annual income, the basic benefit would be $230/mo (($14,753-$12,000)/12), but the benefit under housebound would be $502/mo (($18,029-$12,000)/12), and the amount with aid and attendance would be $1,050/mo (($24,610-$12,000)/12). As you can see, the benefit adds up.
III. How to Apply
There are two ways to apply for the benefits.
You can complete a VA Form 21-2680, Examination for Housebound Status or Permanent Need for Regular Aid and Attendance, and mail it to your servicing Pension Management Center. For my Kentucky readers, that is the Philadelphia Pension Management Center.
Included with the VA Form, you will need evidence of your need, such as a doctor’s report outlining the need for Aid and Attendance or Housebound status. You should also include a personal statement outlining how you normally go about your day, how you take care of yourself, and how your injury or illness affects your ability to do so. For veterans in a nursing home, you will also have to include a VA Form 21-0779, Request for Nursing Home Information, permitting the VA to contact the home and receive information relevant to your claim.
Alternatively, you can take the above information to your nearest VA Regional Office and apply in person.