***IMPORTANT: Link to the latest, most complete information and excellent chart I’ve found re: 2015 VA AID AND ATTENDANCE BENEFITS below ***
Links to older related posts at the end of this 2010 post, which still contains relevant information
Memorial Day weekend is behind us. Yet old and young veterans, their wives and their widows remain.
They may be parents or grandparents; may have aged well–or not. While veteran’s benefits are widely discussed, widows of WWII veterans are more likely to have outlived their husbands and the benefits discussed below (which are under-used), may have never entered anyone’s mind.
When these older and elderly parents still live at home and have serious health issues, adult children know only too well how much is required to help them remain at home. Family and friends may be giving them the help that they need even when assisted living or a nursing home would be more appropriate, but not doable for various reasons.
Possible Help From the Department of Veteran’s Affairs
The Department of Veteran’s Affair’s “Aid and Attendance Pension Program” may help aging parents with certain health issues to remain in their home (and help their adult care-giving children as well). Or, may help with assisted living or other living situation’s expenses. This post is based on a longtime friend’s recent experience with her elderly mother. No matter the stage of aging, we want to help our parents age well.
Her 93-year-old mother (a WWII veteran’s widow) has lived in an apartment attached to my friend and her husband’s home for decades. An intelligent, interesting, involved and independent widow, these qualities helped her age well until her macular degeneration progressed to the point where she is legally blind in both eyes. She now needs additional help to remain in her apartment.
My friend is smart; enlisted the help of a social worker and learned, among other things, about available services. The “Aid and Attendance Pension Program” is one. The following are general guidelines for eligibility:
*One must be a veteran or surviving spouse of a veteran–the latter married to the veteran at the time of death.
*The veteran must have served 90 days of continuous service–one day being during time of war.
*The person must have medical need, that won’t improve, and affects some acts of daily living (ADL) to the point that help is required.
*the person needs to live in a “protected environment” (could be own home) for his/her own safety (think dementia or stroke)
*the person is legally blind in both eyes.
The key is to have the maximum monthly pension offset all of the veteran’s monthly income with qualifying medical expenses. Those “qualifying expenses” can include caregiver expenses for caregivers who come in to help, as well as for adult child/children if they do the care-giving. (In the latter case children must be paid like a regular employee based on what’s reasonable.)
The Next Step
Dealing with any governmental agency takes time and we know if we are busy trying to keep our parents afloat, we may not be able to stretch the 24-hour-day enough to find that time. Knowing that there’s a law practice with professionals who specialize in veteran’s benefits may be useful, so I’m including a link. I do not endorse nor am I qualified to endorse. But my smart friend is using it to help get through the paper work. Communicating directly with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and reading the website is, of course, always a first step that costs nothing but time.
Also if age 90 or over you can expedite a VA application: “There are special, specific VA rules to expedite the applications of people age 90 and older. If your loved one is in this age group, make sure that the VA office that’s handling their application is aware of this.”
For annotated, additional sites and links click Sept. 21, 2010 post
2/20/2015 proposed new benefits: https://helpparentsagewell.com/2015/02/20/va-aid-and-attendance-pension-to-get-new-eligibility-rules/
*** and this July 2012 attorney’s (also editor at Caring.com) response adds information about DIC Dependency and Indemnity Compensation: http://www.caring.com/questions/veterans-widow-benefits.
**and click below for updated, descriptive chart of benefits–posted 3/2012: http://www.canhr.org/factsheets/misc_fs/html/fs_aid_&_attendance.html
*and listen to the Blogtalk radio link on my April 2011 post–especially if you learn well from listening….and listen to the end….the comments are instructive.
Check out: “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities and respected professionals-–to help parents age well.
AS A W.W.2 VET MY LIFE INSURANCE RATES WERE SUDDENLY RAISED FROM $ 167 DOLLARS A QUARTER, TO $ 799.DOLLARS A QUARTER. WHICH I CAN NOT AFFORD. I C ALLED MY BROKER AND HE SAID THEY CANT DO ANYTHING ITS THE INSURANCE COMPANIES DOING. ANY HELP WOULD BE THANKFULL.
I think and hope the following will be of help, Gerard– the Victoria Collier law firm: Victoria L. Collier PC, 866-371-6100 (toll free) or 404-370-0696 or possibly 370-381-8004. Address 160 Clairmont Ave. Decatur, GA 30030. Victoria served in the military (1989-1995), became a lawyer, was in the judge advocate corps and has trained attorneys in many states about elder law and Veteran’s Benefits. Click this link to hear a radio interview with Victoria’s in 2010. She’s obviously very knowledgeable.
I phoned the office two years ago and spoke to a helpful person.
Am saddened by your situation. The increase in your life insurance payments are an outrage. Good luck and please report back if you have time. Susan
My husband died in Dec 2010 and my service officer applied for me for a wisdows pension. I have a number to call them but it always says use fax phone which know nothing about and don’t have a fax machine. I have $750.oo a month of his S.S. to live on. Not working and wondering how long it will take Thank you very much D. S. Nebraska
Several weeks ago I sent a personal reply to DS–to help navigate the menu maze at VA to get that information–but I couldn’t answer “how long it takes.” Today I used the email share icon to send yesterday’s post–Veterans’ Benefits revisited on Blogradio, with a link to that interview. The elder law attorney, I think, answers that question in one of her several answers to the question of “how long it takes.” Program lasts about 30 minutes and the “how long” information is near the end.
I have been trying to get my husbands Widows pension
for sometime, as I am in dire need of money to pay my bills etc.
Trying to live on $995.00 a month social security is getting more difficult each month. I have let my health Ins. drop because I couldn’t affort 217.00 a month. AARP latest way of helping people like me enables us to see our primary doctors will be a big help. I will be 85, my husband past away,he was a ww 2 veteran.
Hopefully you can help me expidite the veterans that have all the
the information about why I am asking for help,I understand the rights Widows have about my situation.Won’t you please e-mail me back.
I am handicapped when it comes to driving to a VA office.
Thank you very much
When dealing with large agencies, one worries things can get lost–and they can. I don’t know when you sent in your paperwork, but I would double-check at this point to be certain it’s getting attention–or at least is there awaiting processing.
If your nearest VA office has a social worker, I think he/she should be able to check on the status of your pension application for you.
Or check the links below–given in previous posts:
1. The Underhill Law Firm http://www.underhilllaw.com/veterans-benefits/ –used successfully by my friend for her 90+-year-old mother (WWII vet’s wife). information and phone numbers. While there’s a charge when they do all the paperwork, someone in the office might–at no charge– have the immediate answer or direct you as to how to get information regarding the timeline for pension request processing. Paul Miller is the person I spoke with when I wrote the post.
2. https://helpparentsagewell.com/2010/09/21/help-aging-parentsveterans-aid-and-attendance-pension-program-revisited/. If it turns out your application was lost or you didn’t fill everything in correctly, this post is instructive in discussing ways of applying for the benefit on your own and suggesting a recommended book.
I hope you’ll let me know how things are going. Good luck. Susan