Many veterans and Family members erroneously assume the Department of Veterans Affairs “Aid and Attendance” benefit is one that will provide actual home health care for a veteran or a veteran’s spouse. In reality, A&A is simply an additional monetary award granted under various conditions.
The VA defines the need for A&A as one of the following: “You require the aid of another person in order to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting yourself from the hazards of your daily environment; you are bedridden, in that your disability or disabilities requires that you remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment; you are a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity; your eyesight is limited to a corrected 5/200 visual acuity or less in both eyes or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.”
A veteran or surviving spouse receiving or eligible to receive VA pension or survivor’s pension, who needs A&A, will simply receive a higher monetary award than a veteran or surviving spouse receiving pension but do not need such care. In addition, the veteran must have served on active duty during a war period to be eligible for pension. Those who served in peacetime are not eligible, nor are their surviving spouses.
The need for A&A is especially important in determining the amount of pension a veteran or a surviving spouse will receive, since pension is strictly based on income, net worth and out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Many veterans or surviving spouses will not qualify for a pension until they need A&A, which raises the maximum income cap.
Also eligible for the additional A&A award is a veteran who is receiving 100 percent permanent and total service-connected disability compensation, but only if his need for A&A is because of service-connected disabilities, not other conditions for which he is not service-connected.
In addition, if any veteran is receiving 30 percent or more service-connected disability compensation and has a disabled spouse who needs A&A, the veteran will get an additional monetary award because of the spouse’s need.
Also, a surviving spouse who is receiving death and indemnity compensation because the veteran died of a service-connected disability can also qualify for an additional A&A monetary award.
VA Form 21-2680 is an exam form that is completed by the doctor of the person in need of A&A, and it is then submitted to the VA for consideration, along with any supporting medical records and VA forms, depending on the type of claim.
There are some instances where VA will provide home health care, but only for the veteran and only if he is enrolled in the VA health care system.
The veteran’s primary care VA doctor can order such care, and the veteran’s particular medical conditions will determine the number of hours of home health care that can be authorized, if any.
There also is the VA Family Caregiver Program, where a Family member of a veteran with serious service-connected physical or mental disabilities may be paid by the VA if the veteran needs personal care for at least six months.
The veteran must be enrolled in the VA health care system, and the veteran’s VA doctor makes the determination as to whether or not such care is warranted before a family caregiver will be paid. This benefit is currently only for those who served post-Sept. 11, 2001.