Veterans Day is just around the corner in the United States. Every November 11th – chosen because that was the day World War I officially ended – we celebrate Veterans Day in the U.S. as a way to honor the men and women who have served their country by serving in the United States military and/or being killed in war while serving in the military. If you are a veteran, or you are the surviving spouse of a veteran, you may be entitled to a number of benefits for your service to your country. You probably already know about many of these benefits, such as the VA home loan program, ongoing health insurance, and pension benefits. There may be other benefits, however, to which you are entitled and that you are unaware of to date. The Veterans Aid and Attendance (VA&A) program, for example, is a commonly overlooked benefit program that could provide you with an additional monetary benefit every month.
Are You Entitled to a Pension?
The VA&A program is a benefit that offers an additional monthly monetary benefit amount to qualified recipients. The first criteria for eligibility is that you must be entitled to a pension for your service (or hat of a spouse) in the U.S. military.
Do You Need “Aid” for Purposes of Qualifying for VA&A Benefits?
The next hurdle to eligibility is that you must need the “aid of another person.” You must qualify under one of the following categories:
- You require the aid of another person in order 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
Another related benefit is the “Housebound” benefit. This benefit works essentially the same way as the Aid and Attendance benefit; however, as the name implies it is intended to be for recipients who are “housebound.” According to the eligibility rules, you are considered to be housebound if you are “substantially confined to your immediate premises because of permanent disability.”
Does Your Service Record Qualify?
To be eligible for VA&A benefits you must also pass the veteran’s service record test. The applicant must meet the following service requirements:
- Was discharged from a branch of the United States Armed Forces under conditions that were not dishonorable AND
- Served at least one day (did not have to be served in combat) during the following wartime periods and had 90 days of continuous military service:
- World War I: April 6, 1917, through November 11, 1918
- World War II: December 7, 1941, through December 31, 1946
- Korean War: June 27, 1950, through January 31, 1955
- Vietnam War: August 5, 1964 (February 28, 1961, for veterans who served “in country” before August 5, 1964), through May 7, 1975
- Persian Gulf War: August 2, 1990, through a date to be set by Presidential Proclamation or Law.
Applying for VA&A Benefits
If you think you might qualify for VA&A benefits, you can apply by writing to the Pension Management Center (PMC) that serves your state. If you are approved for the benefits, your monthly benefit amount will be determined based on a number of factors, including your current pension amount. If you have been denied VA&A benefits, or any other veteran benefits, be sure to consult with your Illinois elder law attorney about appealing your denial.
If you have additional questions or concerns regarding Veteran Aid an Attendance benefits, contact the experienced Illinois elder law attorneys at Hedecker Law, Ltd. by calling (847) 913-5415 to schedule an appointment.