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

Qualifying for Aid and Attendance Benefits

In order to qualify for Aid and Attendance Benefits, a veteran/surviving spouse must have (1) limited assets and (2) high out-of-pocket medical/care expenses in relation to his/her gross income.

Limited Assets

Gross Income

Unreimbursed Medical Expenses

Countable Income/Income for VA Purposes (IVAP)

How the VA calculates the pension amount

What are “limited assets”?

  • Typically, the VA will scrutinize applications showing assets in excess of $80,000

What is excluded when calculating the $80,000?

  • The following are NOT considered assets (for VA purposes) and do NOT count toward the $80,000 limit:
    • The veteran or surviving spouse’s home
    • Vehicles
    • Life Insurance Policies (but current cash value of life insurance policy is included)

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What does the VA count against the $80,000 limit?

  • Cash
  • Money in savings, checking accounts
  • CDs
  • Annuities
  • IRA accounts
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Real estate (other than the home)
  • Business assets
  • Cash value of life insurance policies

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What counts as “gross income”?

  • Social Security benefits
  • Pensions
  • Dividend income/Interest income
  • Spousal income (wages)
  • Income from rental property

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What is “countable income” or “income for VA purposes?”

  • Countable income, the income that the VA counts when determining your A&A benefits:
Gross Income
Unreimbursed Medical Expenses
Standard VA deduction
Countable Income


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What are “unreimbursed medical expenses”?

  • Only medical expenses that are paid out-of-pocket may be subtracted from gross income to determine income for VA purposes
  • Expenses that are reimbursed (by Medicare or a private insurance company, for examples) are NOT taken into account by the VA when determining whether a veteran or widow has high medical expenses in relation to his/her income.
  • Examples of unreimbursed medical expenses:
    • Nursing Home costs
    • Assisted Living costs
    • Prescription medication (the portion not reimbursed by Medicare Part D or private insurance)
    • Incontinence supplies
    • Home Health Care services (whether provided by an agency or whether a family member or friend is paid for care services)
    • Health Insurance premiums
    • Medicare premiums

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What is the “standard VA deduction”

  • The VA subtracts a standard amount from each eligible applicant’s countable income
  • The amount subtracted from the monthly countable income depends on who is applying for A&A benefits:
    • $49.33 per month for an unmarried A&A eligible veteran
    • $64.58 per month for a married A&A eligible veteran
    • $33.08 per month for a surviving (widowed) spouse eligible for A&A

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How does the VA determine the benefit amount?

  • The VA subtracts the qualified unreimbursed medical expenses from gross income
    • The resulting number is the countable income, or IVAP
      • The IVAP is subtracted from the maximum A&A benefit amount to determine how much the veteran is entitled to receive
    • Example: The veteran receives $1,000 per month from social security and $1,000 from a retirement pension. His gross income is $2,000. Each month, he spends $500 out-of-pocket on prescriptions, $100 on health insurance premiums, and $1,000 for a home health agency to assist with his cleaning, cooking, and medications.
      • $2,000 (gross income) – $500 (prescriptions) – $100 (insurance) – $1,000 (home health) – $49.33 (standard VA deduction) = $351 IVAP
        • Now, take the maximum monthly A&A pension amount for a veteran with no dependents ($1,644) and subtract the IVAP ($351)
        • $1,644 – $351 = $1,293
      • Thus, in this example, the veteran could receive a pension benefit of $1,293 per month to help pay for his health expenses

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The content contained on this website is for illustrative and informational purposes only. The content on this website does not constitute legal advice.