Griswold Home Care would like to thank all US Veterans across the globe who have sacrificed so much. We are proud that over 20% of all our local owners are vets – we truly appreciate your service and what you continue to do for seniors and veterans in your local community.
Our way of giving back today is to spread information about a very important topic that can greatly assist Veterans and their families during their time of need.
Meet the Veteran Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit:
According to VeteranAid.org, the Aid and Attendance (A&A) Pension provides “benefits for veterans and surviving spouses who require the regular attendance of another person to assist in eating, bathing, dressing and undressing or taking care of the needs of nature” and extends to surviving spouses of qualifying vets.
As we celebrate Veterans Day today, I’d like to introduce our readers to Debbie Burak of VeteranAid.org.
I’ve known Debbie for a while now and every time we speak , her passion for supporting Veterans is second to none. She has spent over 10 years advocating for Veterans with particular attention to generating awareness of this benefit and other legislative issues that surround seniors, aging, and our veterans.
Surprisingly, estimates figure that less than 10% of Veterans utilize this benefit and even fewer are aware of the program.
We sat down with Debbie Burak to discuss the basics of the A&A program so that we recognize veterans on this day while also connecting them with resources they have fought for.
Interview with Debbie Burak of VeteranAid.org:
Q: What benefits do our Veterans have that may assist them with aging independently?
A: The Veterans’ Administration offers Aid and Attendance (A&A) as part of an “improved pension” for veterans and surviving spouses who require the regular attendance of another person for their day-to-day living. Aid and Attendance can represent over $24,000 tax-free dollars annually to offset the cost of care and services whether that be in-home services, assisted living or nursing home.
This is a 3-tier pension benefit consisting of Basic, Housebound, and Aid and Attendance that allows for varying degrees of care.
Q: What is a unique fact about the A&A program?
A: Aid and Attendance has been an entitlement for 61 years but has been under-utilized primarily due to a lack of knowledge. It is the 70+ million Baby Boomers who now find themselves caring for an elderly loved one who have sought out financial resources that are now learning about this hidden benefit. It is estimated that out of millions of veterans or widows who are eligible only a small percentage know about the pension and are benefiting from it.
This is a pension benefit and is NOT dependent upon service-related injuries for compensation. A veteran is eligible for up to $1,704 per month, while a surviving spouse is eligible for up to $1,094 per month. A veteran with a spouse is eligible for up to $2,020 per month and a veteran with a sick spouse is eligible for up to $1,338 per month. (Note: Effective December 1, 2012 these figures will increase by 1.7% COLA adjustment)
Q: In general, how can the A&A program help a Veteran?
A: For many individuals or families dealing with the escalating cost of care, this benefit can be the defining point of the quality of care and services that otherwise could not be afforded without an additional source of income to offset those costs. Having this pension benefit allows for better choices in providing the appropriate care for that individual.
There is a big trend towards folks wanting to “age in place” as opposed to moving into a facility. The Aid and Attendance pension can be instrumental in allowing for this choice.
Q: What should next steps be for an adult child or veteran who wants to investigate eligibility?
A: The first thing would be to establish that dates of service fall under an “Approved Period of War” for eligibility. This information can be found here.
Once dates of services are determined, then gathering all the necessary documents to make application would be in order. This can present a challenge as most adult children or other family members might not know where to look for marriage licenses, discharge papers etc. You can find a complete list of all required documents to begin this process on VeteranAid.org. Our forums are a virtual library that should be explored for additional guidance.
Q: On this Veterans Day, what emerging issues concerning Veterans do you see becoming more central to your organizational mission?
A: We are concerned that this VA benefit is still not known on a national level as is Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and that millions of veterans or their widows are missing out on this critical financial resource to ensure proper care and services can be provided in a time of need.
Of great concern is the duping of senior veterans by companies and individuals who target senior vets who exceed asset limitations in qualifying for this benefit with the sole purpose of financial gain. VeteranAid.org has been instrumental in taking steps to prevent this exploitation by those self-serving “Pension Poachers”, but more safeguards are still needed.
Share this post on your Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media profiles to spread the word about what resources are available to a vet that is close to you. Feel free to leave a comment with other resources that might be available, and we will respond to any question you might have about this program within the comment section.