Montana & North Dakota Veterans Aid and Attendance Lawyers

If you or your spouse served in the military during wartime and either of you is now unable to live without regular assistance with the basic functions of daily life—bathing, eating, dressing, taking medication, and so forth—or if you or your spouse is blind or living in a nursing home or assisted living facility, help may be available through a little known program from the VA known as Veteran’s Aid and Attendance. Contact the Missoula Veteran’s Aid and Attendance lawyers at Jones & Cook for assistance. Call (406) 543-3800 to schedule your free consultation.

Many veterans and their families assume that there are no benefits for veterans unless they were either wounded in combat or suffered a service-connected disability. This is incorrect. If you are an honorably discharged veteran who served at least one day during a period of wartime and if you are in an assisted living facility or are spending a significant amount each month for care in your home, then you may quality for benefits under the VA Aid and Attendance program. This program is one of the VA’s best kept secrets.

Aid and Attendance is available to a veteran who is disabled, and has the additional requirement of needing the assistance of another person in order to avoid the hazards of his or her daily environment (for example, the veteran needs someone to help him or her bathe, dress, and otherwise take care of himself or herself).

This “improved pension benefit” is often overlooked as a source of help for families struggling with the care of elderly or ill members. It is important to realize that the program is not limited to service-related injuries. For many, the application process is daunting, but with the help of an experienced veterans’ attorney, many veterans and their wives or husbands can tap into this largely unused program for the help they need.

Legal Help for Montana’s Veterans and their Spouses

Long-Term Care Benefits for Veterans and Surviving Spouses

Long-term care costs can add up quickly. For veterans and the surviving spouses of veterans who need in-home care or are in a nursing home, help may be available. The Veterans Administration (VA) has an underused pension benefit called Aid and Attendance that provides money to those who need assistance performing everyday tasks. Even veterans whose income is above the legal limit for a VA pension may qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit if they have large medical expenses for which they do not receive reimbursement.

Aid and Attendance is a pension benefit, which means it is available to veterans who served at least 90 days, with at least one day during wartime, and who were not dishonorably discharged. The veteran does not have to have service-related disabilities to qualify. Veterans or surviving spouses are eligible if they require the aid of another person to perform an everyday action, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, or going to the bathroom. This includes individuals who are bedridden, blind, or residing in a nursing home.

Annual Benefit Amount

To qualify the veteran or spouse must have less than $80,000 in assets, excluding the home and vehicle. In addition, the veteran’s income must be less than the Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR).

Single Veteran
$21,466
Veteran with One Dependent
$25,448
Single Surviving Spouse
$13,794
Surviving Spouse with One Dependent
$16,456

Eligibility for Aid and Attendance

There must have been an honorable discharge for eligibility. Single surviving spouses of such veterans are also eligible. If younger than 65, the veteran must be completely disabled. If age 65 and older, there is no requirement to prove disability. However, the veteran or spouse must be in need of regular aid and attendance due to:

Inability of claimant to dress or undress themselves or to keep themselves ordinarily clean and presentable.
Frequent need of adjustment of any special prosthetic or orthopedic appliances which by reason of the particular disability cannot be done without aid; such as supports, belts, lacing at the back, etc.
Inability to feed themselves through loss of coordination of upper extremities or through extreme weakness.
Inability to attend to the wants of nature.
Incapacity, physical or mental, which requires care or assistance on a regular basis to protect the claimant from hazards or dangers to his or her daily environment.

Not all of the disabling conditions in the list above are required to exist. It is only necessary that the evidence establish that the veteran or spouse needs “regular” aid and attendance from someone else, not that there be a 24-hour need.

Determination of a need for the aid and attendance or housebound benefit is based on medical reports and findings by private physicians or hospital facilities. Approval of aid and attendance or housebound benefits is automatic if evidence establishes the claimant is a patient in a nursing home or that the claimant is blind or nearly blind or having severe visual problems.

Bradley J. Jones Aid and Attendance Lawyer for Montana Veterans

If you are a veteran or a veteran with a sick or disabled spouse, the veterans’ affairs experts at Jones & Cook Attorneys at Law may be able to get you money to assist with your growing expenses through the United States Veterans’ Administration Aid and Attendance program. We will guide you through the complicated application process and assist you with the required paperwork and documentation that can potentially relieve the financial burden of obtaining the services you need, whether in your home, in the care of family or friend, in a nursing home, or in an assisted living home. Call the Montana veterans’ benefits attorneys at Jones & Cook. Call (406) 543-3800 to schedule your free consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

VA Aid and Attendance veterans disability benefits are available to wartime veterans and surviving spouses of wartime vets. VA Aid and Attendance veterans disability benefits can pay for assisted living due to a veteran’s disabilities. VA Aid and Attendance veterans disability benefits can cover care in these settings:

  • In-home care
  • Assisted living facility
  • Skilled nursing home

Any wartime veteran with 90 days of active duty, 1 day beginning or ending during a period of war, is eligible to apply for the Aid & Attendance Improved Pension. A surviving spouse (marriage must have ended due to death of veteran) of a wartime veteran may also apply. The individual applying must qualify both medically and financially. Veterans who wish to obtain Aid and Attendance benefits must have:

  • Been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions;
  • Served at least ninety (90) consecutive days of active duty; and
  • Served during a period of war.

Unfortunately the VA does not recognize any Powers of Attorney. If the veteran is capable of managing their own affairs, it will be easier for the veteran to sign and handle the appropriate correspondence. If the veteran is not capable of managing their own affairs due to diminished mental capacity, has dementia or Alzheimer’s, the VA may rule that they are in need of a fiduciary and the Power of Attorney does not grant this fiduciary authority. Once the VA determines that they find it necessary for a fiduciary to be appointed, the veteran will be interviewed by a VA Field Agent who will determine if the Power of Attorney holder is an appropriate person to become the veteran’s fiduciary.

If you are eligible for Aid and Attendance benefits or Household benefits, all your costs may be deductible. The VA will allow all reasonable fees that are paid to medical or nursing assistance. The services do not necessarily need to be from a licensed health care professional.

  • Married veterans get up to $2,210 per month.
  • Single veterans get up to $1,789 per month.
  • Married veteran with sick spouse can receive $1,789 per month.
  • Surviving spouses who did not remarry can receive up to $1,149 per month.

Veterans, spouses of veterans or surviving spouses can be eligible for Aid and Attendance benefits if they meet the following disability requirements:

  • The aid of another person is needed in order to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, toileting, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting himself/herself from the hazards of his/her daily environment; OR
  • The claimant is bedridden, in that his/her disability or disabilities require that he/she remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment; OR
  • The claimant is in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity; OR
  • The claimant is blind, or so nearly blind as to have corrected visual acuity of 5/200 or less, in both eyes, or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.

The claimant’s countable family income must be below a yearly limit set by law. Countable Income means income received by the claimant and his or her dependents. It includes earnings, disability and retirement payments, interest and dividends, and net income from farming or business. A claimant must report all income, but the VA will exclude any income that the law allows. Public assistance, like SSI, is not counted as part of countable income. The annual income limits for the Aid and Attendance program are higher than those set for the basic pension. The maximum Aid and Attendance benefit that can be paid monthly to a single veteran is $1,704, but the veteran must have countable income of $0 to receive the maximum benefit.

Yes. Veterans are eligible to receive both Compensation Aid & Attendance and Individual Unemployability benefits at the same time. You can apply for both benefits at the same time. Remember, Individual Unemployability benefits are for veterans that cannot work from their service-connected disabilities. It is only natural to think that many of those veterans cannot also care for themselves at home. That is why the VA allows disabled veterans to receive both benefits.

Net Worth (the value of your assets) also affects eligibility. VA pensions are a need–based benefit, and a large net worth might affect your eligibility. All personal goods are exempt from the net worth. These goods include the home you live in, a vehicle used for the care of the claimant, and household goods and personal effects such as clothes, jewelry and furniture. Unfortunately, there is no asset limit set by law, and the determination of eligibility can be made at the discretion of a VA caseworker.

No. You may spend your pension on anything you wish – home improvements, medical expenses, caregiver payments, and even clothing.

If you’re no longer married to a veteran, the rules can become quite complicated. If you are a widowed spouse of a veteran who has not remarried, you will still be eligible for the pension. However, if you are divorced from the veteran or if you have remarried since the veteran’s death, the rules for eligibility vary depending on several factors, including when the marriage took place, how old the spouse was when they married, when the VA application was filed, and when the marriage ended. These laws change frequently, so it is important that you work with an accredited professional who will know the latest rules regarding remarriage.

Help can be delivered via home care, an assisted living community, a nursing home, etc. Independent living situations do not always qualify, although if the senior is receiving onsite homecare they may qualify.

No, it is not necessary to be living in assisted living in order to apply for Veterans Aid and Attendance benefits in that you can receive this benefit at home, in certain senior living facilities, in assisted living, or a nursing home. However, if you are in need of the types of services provided by an assisted living facility, the entire cost of assisted living should count as an unreimbursed medical expense to help qualify you for Aid and Attendance. In that case, you would need to be residing in the assisted living residence and paying the bill in order for the assisted living bill to be considered a medical expense.

The Aid and Attendance benefit is paid directly to the veteran or surviving spouse, not to the facility. The veteran or the spouse, of their adult child who is assisting them, the uses the money to pay for their care. The VA prefers to deposit the money directly into your checking account instead of sending a check by U.S. mail.

The qualifying war periods are:

  • World War I: April 6, 1917 to November 11, 1918
  • World War II: December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946
  • Korean Conflict: June 27, 1950 to January 31, 1955
  • Vietnam Era: The period beginning on February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975, inclusive, in the case of veterans who actually served in Vietnam during that period. The period beginning on August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975 for all other Vietnam era veterans.
  • Persian Gulf War: August 2, 1990 through a date to be set by Presidential proclamation or law. The second Iraq war is considered to be a continuation of the Persian Gulf War.

A VA Accredited Attorney can assist you in establishing an Irrevocable Trust. Currently, there is no look back period to make transfers to an Irrevocable Trust. The VA Applicant and his/her spouse can not be the Trustee of beneficiary of this Irrevocable Trust in order for assets to be excluded from consideration when applying for benefits. Often, children or other close family members are named as the Trustee and Income beneficiary of the trust.

Although homestead is generally exempt from consideration for VA benefits and/or Medicaid the proceeds of the sale of a home may disqualify applicants from benefits they have previously qualified for! A house can be transferred to an Irrevocable trust with no penalty imposed. Once the house is owned by the Irrevocable Trust, if it is sold, the proceeds stay within the trust and therefore would not cause disqualification from benefits.