Hopefully we all remember and appreciate the veterans who have served our country every day of the year. To remind us of their contribution to keeping America safe we officially remember and honor veterans each November on Veterans Day. But taking care of our veterans is more than just a one-day affair, and includes myraid programs, including the lesser-known Veterans Aid and Attendance, or VAA, benefits for veterans and surviving spouses.
For their service and sacrifice to our country veterans, surviving spouses, and dependents of veterans are eligible for a wide range of benefits, including health care, educational and training benefits, and guaranteed loans. These are some of the benefits that most people are familiar with; however, there are a wide variety of other, less well-known, benefits to which a veteran, spouse, or dependent may be entitled, including VAA benefits. As a veteran, or surviving spouse, you may qualify for VAA benefits if you require the aid and attendance of another person on a regular basis and/or are housebound.
For purposes of the VAA program, needing the “aid and attendance” of another person refers to your need for assistance completing simple daily tasks that most of us take for granted, such as bathing, dressing, and cooking. For purposes of housebound benefits, you are considered to be housebound if you are “substantially confined to your immediate premises because of permanent disability.” During the application process for benefits you will be required to provide supporting documentation, such as a report from your attending physician or a report from a long-term care facility, indicating that you suffer from a physical and/or mental impairment to the extent that you need assistance from someone outside your home to be able to complete these simple daily tasks.
The VAA program is aimed at providing financial assistance to low income veterans and surviving spouses. Therefore, along with proving your need for the assistance from a practical standpoint you must also prove a financial need. Toward that end, you must be eligible for pension or for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, or DIC. If you are approved for benefits you will receive an additional monetary benefit each month. By way of example, a surviving spouse who is currently receiving DIC benefits could be entitled to an additional $301 per month in VAA benefits.
To apply for Veterans Aid and Attendance benefits, you must write a letter requesting the benefits to your regional Veterans Affairs office.
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