Aid and Attendance and Housebound are two benefits available to veterans through the VA Pension plan that may help you pay for in-home care for veterans and their spouses. These are great programs that provide special monthly pension benefits that can help the elderly and disabled, but they have two problems. The first being that not many people know about how these benefits can help provide in-home care for veterans. The second being there are dishonest organizations that use these programs to take advantage of families via pension poaching scams. This article will help you learn if you are eligible for Aid and Attendance or Housebound and help you avoid pension poachers.
The VA pension program is a benefit paid to eligible wartime Veterans and their survivors. Whether you are eligible or not depends on how you were discharged, how long you served, income and net worth considerations and your age or disability.
The lesser known benefit of Aid and Attendance is an increased monthly pension paid to a Veteran or surviving spouse. You are eligible for the increased pension if you quality for the VA pension and if any of the following is also true:
- You require the aid of another person in order to perform activities of daily living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, toileting, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting yourself from the hazards of your daily environment, OR
- You are bedridden, in that your disability or disabilities require that you remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment, OR You are a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity, OR
- You have corrected visual acuity of 5/200 or less, in both eyes, or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.
And an even lesser known benefit than Aid and Attendance is categorized as Housebound which is also designed to help provide in-home care for veterans. It too is an increased monthly pension benefit paid to a Veteran or surviving spouse who is substantially confined to his or her home because of permanent disability. You may be eligible if:
- You are eligible for basic pension benefits AND
- You have a single permanent disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling AND, due to a disability or disabilities, you are permanently and substantially confined to your immediate premises, OR
- You have a single permanent disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling AND another disability or disabilities, independently evaluated as 60-percent or more disabling.
To apply for the VA Pension, you must fill out the Application for Pension form VA Form 21-527EZ. To apply for Survivors Pension you must complete VA Form 21-534EZ. But as we all know filling out government forms and understanding all the “qualifications” required is an arduous and confusing task for most people. This, unfortunately, assists scammers by providing them with a vehicle to take advantage of people and present their schemes to the public as “assistance” instead of the pension poaching that it really is.
The Government Accountability Office recently found there are several hundred organizations that market financial and estate-planning services to help pension claimants with excess assets meet financial eligibility requirements for pension benefits, and other such promises that are designed to take advantage of you. Beware of companies that cold call you, charge money for assisting you with a VA pension claim, or ask for credit card information over the phone. There are plenty of shady organizations out there that are experts in running scams to take advantage of veterans and the elderly.
To ensure you do not become a victim to unscrupulous organizations, it is important to work with an accredited representative, agent or attorney. There is a searchable list of accredited agents, representatives and attorneys at the VA Office of the General Counsel Website: http://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/index.asp.
You can also reach out to us by calling Mary Powell at 356-0342 and she will put you in touch with reputable organizations in our area that can help you. Also watch our site for an upcoming Veteran’s Outreach program as we have had several in the past, where we bring in local origination that can help you. You can read about or Spring Veteran’s Outreach program here which highlights several local veteran’s groups that you might find helpful.
Even if you do not qualify for Aid and Attendance or Housebound programs, you may still find some useful assistance by contacting local organizations devoted to the support of our veterans. Home Sweet Home Care is devoted to veterans and will assist you in any way that we can. There is also more information at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website about the VA pension program.