Explanation of VA Pension Benefit with Aid & Assistance

(Written by Laura Skinner - SSV VA Benefits Specialist)

There are 2 kinds of claims that Veterans can file for with the VA.

1.  Claim for Service Connected Disability COMPENSATION   If the Veteran was injured during his/her active duty or s/he developed some type of chronic medical condition that s/he still suffers from today s/he should file this type of claim.

2.  Claim for Non-Service Connected PENSION, (NSCP), with Aid and Attendance (A&A).

Note: VETERAN MUST HAVE SERVED ON ACTIVE DUTY DURING A DECLARED WARTIME PERIOD AND DISCHARGED UNDER HONORABLE CONDITIONS

What is a  Non-Service Connected Pension (NSCP), with Aid and Attendance (A&A)?

The NSCP claim has nothing to do with being injured while on active duty and Aid and Attendance is granted when the Veteran requires the help of another person to help him/her with his/her daily activities such as fixing meals, getting dressed, showering, driving him to appts. etc.

Are there any limits or restrictions?

NSCP with A&A is a “needs” based benefit. That means there are income and asset/net worth limits.

For a married Veteran that needs Aid and Attendance the monthly income limit which includes his/her spouse’s income is $2,085, but if s/he is single it drops to $1,758.  The net worth/asset limit is $80,000 regardless of marital status.

The VA does not count the value of the Veteran’s private residence and the “reasonable” lot that it sits on, but everything that is in his/her checking, savings, CDs, 410K, IRAs, second home or property all totaled–cannot be more than the 80K.  As mentioned before if the Veteran is married his/her spouse’s assets are also counted.

If the Veteran is under the 80K asset limit but over the monthly income limit, the VA allows certain medical expenses to be deducted from his/her income. These are called “permanent recurring” expenses.

What will it cover?

Permanent recurring expenses are expenses that are the same amount every month and can be predicted for 1 year, and that is why prescription copays or doctor’s bills payments cannot be used.

Here are the most commonly claimed permanent recurring expenses:

1. Sitter Fees

Sitter hired through a Home Health Care Agency or privately.

A family member can be a “Sitter” as long as the Veteran is actually paying them and would be able to show proof of payment if requested.

Note: His/her spouse cannot be claimed as a Sitter

2. All Health Insurance Premiums

3. Assisted Living Facility/Nursing Home expenses

After deducting recurring medical expenses where does that leave their monthly income?

For example if the Veteran is living at an Assisted Living Facility paying 3k a monthly and his/her monthly income is $3K that would reduce his/her income to zero.  In this case the Veteran would be eligible for the maximum amount under NSC Pension with A&A, and the VA would grant him/her $2,085 a month.

The VA will always try to bring him/her back up to the $2,085 level.

Another example is if s/he were paying Sitter Fees of 2K a month on a 3K monthly income.

Now his/her income is reduced to 1K so his/her VA Pension would be $1,085.

There is also a “Death Pension with A&A” benefit for widows of wartime Veterans, and that has a different income limit but same asset limit.

What nursing home do you recommend?

If the Veteran requires skilled nursing home care I would definitely recommend an application to the Floyd E. “Tut” Fann Veterans Home here in HSV.

It’s a nice facility, and since it’s a State benefit not a Federal one, (although s/he would get his/her medications through the VA pharmacy at Tut Fann), the eligibility requirements are:

  1. Served during a declared wartime period

  2. Has been a resident of Alabama for at least a year at the time of application

  3. Veteran is in need of skilled nursing care.

For this benefit there’s no income or net worth limitations, and cost to the Veteran is less than $400 a month because the State & Federal VAs subsidize the rest of the cost.

Note: If the Veteran is receiving 70% or more in service connected disability compensation, s/he may not have to pay anything at all.

The only downside of applying for residency at a one of Alabama’s 4 State Veterans Home is there’s a 7-8 month waiting list. Check with individual facility because the wait times do vary by facility and do change frequently.

There’s also enrollment in VA Healthcare but at this time because of the 2 wars if the Veteran doesn’t have a service connected disability or is not receiving VA Pension, he would have to enroll on Financial Threshold–same 80K limit on assets.

Veteran must have his/her Discharge Papers to apply for any VA benefit. Please be aware that if your discharge was noted as under other than honorable conditions, you may or may not be deprived of benefits administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs; a determination by that agency is required in each case.

I hope I answered your questions, and if you have any other questions or you would like to pursue any of the benefits mentioned above please let me know.
 

Laura Skinner, Still Serving Veterans VA Benefits Specialist

Phone: 256-883-7035  |  Email: lauraskinner@stillservingveterans.org