If you’re a US Military veteran who needs help with everyday activities, or you are unable to leave your home, you may be eligible for Aid and Attendance (A&A) benefits. Perhaps you currently receive A&A assistance. You need to be aware of significant changes the VA has made to A&A, which became effective October 18, 2018.
First, let’s look at the basic principle behind A&A allowances. A&A is additional money you may receive if you are eligible for a VA pension and require the help of another person daily, OR you are housebound. Housebound benefits are an increased monthly pension amount that may be added to your monthly pension amount when you are substantially confined to your immediate premises because of permanent disability.
A&A and Housebound benefits are paid in addition to monthly pension. Because both A&A and Housebound allowances increase your pension amount, people who are not eligible for a basic pension due to excessive income may be eligible for pension at these increased rates. However, a veteran or surviving spouse may not receive A&A benefits and Housebound benefits at the same time.
The A&A increased monthly pension amount may be added to your monthly pension amount if you meet one of the following conditions:
- You require the aid of another person to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting yourself from the hazards of your daily environment
- You are bedridden, in that your disability or disabilities requires that you remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment
- You are a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity
- Your eyesight is limited to a corrected 5/200 visual acuity or less in both eyes; or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.
(See https://www.benefits.va.gov/PENSION/aid_attendance_housebound.asp for more information.)
Changes to A&A, effective October 18, 2018
- A maximum net worth of $123,600 became effective October 18, 2018; prior to this date, there was no asset threshold. This limit is the same for single and married applicants.
- The VA asset look back rule: In determining a veterans’ eligibility for Aid and Attendance benefits, the VA will only look back for up for up to three years. Looking back means that during the timeframe immediately preceding a veteran’s application date, the VA checks to ensure no assets were given away or sold under fair market value. If they find any such transactions, it will be assumed the assets were gifted or sold for the purpose of meeting the new net worth limit of $123,600 and there will be a period of VA pension ineligibility. Please note: transfers made prior to 10/18/18 do not violate this new look back rule. Another exception is if the applicant transferred assets, but never had assets of more than $123,600. If this is the case, these transfers do not violate the look back period.
The VA will look at the applicant’s overall net worth (assets) in addition to their income. A veteran’s net worth includes:
- Bank accounts
- Stocks and bonds
- mutual funds and
- property other than the veteran's primary residence and vehicle.
- Primary residence and vehicle
Note: Household goods and furnishings and personal items, such as clothing, are not included as overall assets.
- A veteran’s annual income (after deducting unreimbursed medical expenses) will be added to their net worth.
If you are a veteran and considering applying for benefits, and your assets are above $123,600, it is strongly recommended that you consult with a veterans' pension planner prior to application to ensure the greatest possibility of acceptance. (See https://tinyurl.com/hvl4rqd)