Veteran Aid & Attendance: VA Style
The VA Aid and Attendance benefit is one of the most misunderstood of all VA programs. Strictly speaking, there is no "VA Aid and Attendance Program." It is paid as an additional benefit to wartime-era veterans, their spouses, surviving spouses who are eligible/already-receiving benefits in all Compensation (Service Connected), Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC), and Pension Programs. You cannot apply for just Aid and Attendance; you must apply for the appropriate disability program and then seek additional special benefits for Aid and Attendance.
Generally, a Widow's Pension is a needs based benefit paid to an unremarried surviving spouse of a deceased wartime veteran. DIC is compensation paid to eligible survivors of a military service member who died while on active duty, or a veteran whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease. A pension is reduced dollar for dollar by income from all sources.
Aid and Attendance benefit is paid to claimants who are so helpless or so nearly helpless as to require the regular aid (help) and attendance (presence) of another person in order to avoid the dangers and hazards incident to their daily environment. This definition includes blindness and the inability to perform the "Activities of Daily Living" (ADLs) by oneself -- does an individual need assistance in order to (self-care tasks): Bathe and groom (Personal Hygiene); Dress and undress; Eat; Transfer between bed and chair, leave residence (Independent Movement), and; Use the toilet independently (Continence - voluntarily control urinary and fecal discharge). It is not required for a claimant to have all of the disabling conditions or any combination of them to obtain a favorable rating. It is only necessary to determine that the regular (not necessarily constant) need exists.
Aid and Attendance simply provides a higher rate of reimbursement benefits for claimants who have a greater need for care and hence a greater cost for that care. Generally, this means the need for a greater level of care expressed by either hours of care or actual costs. Claimants residing in Skilled Nursing Facilities or in Assisted Living Facilities having un-reimbursed expenses and a higher need for care are usually eligible for Aid and Attendance benefits.
Wartime eras are World War II 12/07/1941 - 12/11/1946 (12/25/1947); Korean Conflict 06/27/1950 - 01/31/1955; Vietnam Era: 08/05/1964 (02/28/1961) - 05/07/1975, and; Persian Gulf War: Beginning 08/02/1990.
And for those so inclined... but remember, one should always consult a qualified Veteran Service Officer from a recognized Veteran Service Organization...
Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits (Pension)? (http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/pension/spousepen.htm#7). Aid and Attendance Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) (http://www.vba.va.gov/VBA/benefits/factsheets/survivors/dic.doc)
Recognized Veteran Service Organizations include: American Legion: AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Jewish War Veterans of the USA, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Paralyzed Veterans of America, United Spinal Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, Vietnam Veterans of America.
And from the Code of Federal Regulations...
Eligibility criteria 38 CFR 3.350 - Special Monthly Compensation; 3.351 - Special monthly Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), death compensation, pension and spouse's compensation ratings; 3.552 - Determining need for aid & attendance, housebound.
--- Regards, Walt Schmidt