Veterans' Legal Aid | Helping those who fought for our freedom.

Aid & Attendance Benefits

Active Duty veterans and surviving spouses are entitled to “maximum annual rates of improved pension” if they meet certain criteria. Many veterans with non-service related disabilities qualify for this pension if they are in need of “aid and attendance.”

The VA defines aid and attendance as “helplessness or being so nearly helpless as to require the regular aid and attendance of another person.”
For example, persons in need of aid and attendance can include veterans or surviving spouses who are unable to perform at least one of the following tasks without regular assistance:

▪    ‪Dress or undress‬
▪    ‪Keep him/herself clean (or presentable)‬
▪    ‪Inability to feed him/herself (because of loss of use of upper extremities or extreme weakness)‬
•     ‪Inability to use the bathroom without assistance‬
▪     ‪Physical or mental incapacity (when such incapacity requires another person to regularly protect the claimant from hazards or dangers “incident to his or her daily environment)‬

Who is Eligible for Aid and Attendance Benefits?

Veterans who served at least 90 days active duty military, naval, or air service, with at least one of those days during wartime, may be eligible for Aid and Attendance benefits if they later develop a non service-related disability that renders the veteran or an eligible spouse/dependant requires another person to assist with activities of daily life (e.g. cannot get dressed, eat, bathe, etc. without help). These are earned benefits, and are paid in addition to monthly pension for eligible veterans.

A veteran, widowed spouse, or dependant children may be eligible* for Aid and Attendance benefits if all of the following criteria are met:

▪    ‪The veteran was not dishonorably discharged from the military‬
▪    ‪The veteran served at least 90 days of active duty, with at least one day during any of the following periods of war:‬
⁃    ‪WWI‬
⁃    ‪WWII‬
⁃    ‪Korean Conflict‬
⁃    Vietnam Era
⁃    ‪Persian Gulf War (from August 1990 to the present; includes current ‬Iraq war and Afghanistan veterans)
▪    ‪Limited income and assets‬
▪    ‪High medical expenses (almost equal to or exceeding income)‬
•    ‪The veteran is 65 years and older OR is permanently and totally disabled.
⁃    ‪Disability can include any of the following:‬
⁃    ‪Veteran is a patient in a nursing home for long-term care, or‬
⁃    ‪Commissioner of Social Security determines that veteran is disabled, or‬
⁃    ‪Veteran is unemployable as a result of his/her disability, and this is reasonably certain to continue for the remainder of his/her life‬
⁃     ‪Veteran suffers from “any disease or disorder determined by the VA to be of such a nature . . . that [the person] suffering from that disease or disorder [is] permanently and totally disabled.”‬  If the claimant (disabled person who needs the benefits) is not the veteran (but is his/her eligible spouse, widow, or dependant child), then there are additional requirements:
▪    ‪For claimants who are widowed spouses:‬
⁃    ‪Married to the veteran when the veteran died (not divorced)‬
⁃    ‪Living with the veteran at the time of death (exceptions include one party living in a nursing home, or living apart for military reasons)‬
▪    ‪For dependant children claimants, ANY of the following must be met in addition to the service and income requirements listed above:‬
o       ‪Must be under the age of 18, or‬
o       ‪Between the ages of 18 and 23 and still in school, or‬
o       ‪Permanently disabled prior to turning 18 and dependant on the veteran or spouse for support‬

Sources: 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.2 to 3.4, 3.12, 3.351(b), 3.352 (2009)

* The content on this website is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice