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Aid & Attendance Benefits
Aid & Attendance Benefits
In addition to VA disability compensation, several other forms of increased compensation may be available to you or your spouse. One specific type of increased compensation is known as “Aid & Attendance” and may be paid as an increase to a veteran’s disability compensation or as an increase to a surviving spouse’s dependency & indemnity compensation, pension, or death compensation. This type of compensation may also be paid to a veteran if the veteran’s spouse requires aid & attendance.
These benefits can be used to help pay for in-home care of a veteran or their spouse or for care in an assisted-living facility or nursing home. If assisted-living or nursing home care is required for the veteran, VA Community Living Centers may be another option.
Aid & Attendance
Aid & attendance is defined as a person is “helpless or being so nearly helpless as to require the regular aid and attendance of another person.” Regulations set forth three instances in which a claimant can show a need for aid & attendance:
- The person is blind; or has visual acuity of 5/200 or less in both eyes; or has concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.
- The person is a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity.
- The person shows a factual need for aid & attendance.
Regulations give several examples of facts that may be considered to determine a need, including but not limited to:
- Inability to dress oneself
- Inability to keep oneself clean and presentable
- A need for frequent adjustment of prosthetic or medical devices which cannot be performed by claimant due to their disability
- Inability to feed oneself due to extreme weakness or coordination
- Inability to use the restroom
- Inability to protect oneself from the daily hazards of their surroundings
Generally, these are conditions that would often cause a person to be bedridden. However, voluntary or even doctor-ordered bed rest will not be enough to qualify for aid & attendance. The above criteria are examined on a more-permanent basis.
How do I qualify as a veteran?
If you are a veteran, your disability compensation may be increased if you’re in need of aid & attendance, or if you are housebound. These are two separate and independent means of receiving increased compensation. Each category will be explained in greater detail below.
Additionally, if your spouse requires aid & attendance and you are a veteran receiving disability compensation, your compensation may be increased to assist in obtaining aid & attendance for your spouse. Please note that increased compensation is only available if the veteran’s spouse meets the aid & attendance criteria. No increased compensation will be authorized for housebound spouses.
How do I qualify as a surviving spouse?
If you are the surviving spouse of a veteran and are receiving dependency & indemnity compensation, or you are receiving a pension, you may qualify for increased compensation if you require aid & attendance or are housebound.
If you are a surviving spouse and are receiving death compensation, you may qualify for increased compensation only if you are in need of aid & attendance.
Can other family members qualify?
Surviving parents who receive dependency & indemnity compensation may qualify for increased compensation only if that parent requires aid & attendance.
Housebound status is defined as being “permanently housebound” such that a veteran or spouse “is substantially confined to his or her dwelling and the immediate premises or, if institutionalized, to the ward or clinical area…” Additionally, the claimant must also show that the disabilities and resulting confinement will last throughout the claimant’s lifetime. Please note: veteran claimants must have a single disability rated 100 percent disabling to claim housebound status (Total Disability based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU) claims do not meet this criteria).
For veteran claimants, housebound status may also be granted if the veteran, in addition to the required single 100% rated disability, has additional disabilities rate-able at 60 percent or more that are “separate and distinct from the permanent disability rated as 100 percent disabling” and involve different body parts or systems.
Increased compensation for aid & attendance can be a tricky situation to prove to the VA. In addition to the requirements above, there are also asset and income thresholds that may be imposed. If you are unsure whether you might qualify, our experienced veteran’s disability attorneys can provide you with the guidance you need.
Josef Loukota is a VA disability attorney that fights to help fellow Veterans receive the disability benefits they earned. Joe served for six years in the U.S. Navy as an aircraft safety equipment mechanic and shop supervisor. He earned the Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist insignia, two Navy Achievement Medals, and the Navy Good Conduct Medal. Prior to joining Berry Law, Joe worked with Legal Aid of Nebraska as part of a Veteran-to-farmer outreach program. Joe also worked at the University of Nebraska at Omaha Military and Veteran Services Office as part of a team helping Veterans access their G.I. Bill education benefits.