Aid and Attendance Benefits for Veterans in Alabama
Serving Veterans and their Families in the Anniston, Gadsden, and Talladega Areas
Many families struggle to provide necessary care for aging or disabled Veterans or their surviving spouses. Unfortunately, most of these families are unaware of an important benefit available through the Department of Veterans Affairs to which their loved ones may be entitled. It is called Aid and Attendance.
For qualifying veterans, Aid and Attendance is paid in addition to the basic pension rate for seriously disabled wartime veterans who have limited or no income, and who are age 65 or older, or, if under 65, who are permanently and totally disabled.
Some key things to know about the Aid and Attendance benefit:
- Aid and Attendance is a pension benefit and is not dependent upon service-related injuries.
- Wartime veterans and their surviving spouses may be eligible.
- Certain medical and financial requirements must be met.
- Aid and Attendance can help pay for care in the home, nursing home or assisted living facility.
The Application Process
Application for Aid and Attendance Benefits is a complex and lengthy process. The forms are available for you to do this yourself, but be advised that if you apply and your application is denied, you must wait a year before you can reapply. For these reasons, many people seek assistance in completing the application. Note: It is illegal for anyone to charge you a fee to help complete the application or file for benefits.
Our office can assist with you with this process – at no cost to you.
The Aid and Attendance Benefit – How Much Could You Receive?
The cost of assisted living, nursing home or home health care can be substantial. In fact, a 2015 survey conducted by Genworth Financial found that the national median monthly rate for a one-bedroom apartment in an assisted living facility runs $3,600, the national median daily rate for a semi-private nursing home room is $220, and the national median hourly rate for a licensed home health aide is $20. Aid and Attendance Benefits could help defray these types of costs for qualified veterans and their surviving spouses.
The 2016 Maximum Benefits
- Maximum Monthly Benefit for Surviving Spouse: $1,149*
- Maximum Monthly Benefit for Single Veteran: $1,788*
- Maximum Monthly Benefit for Married Veteran: $2,120*
- Maximum Monthly Benefit for Married Veteran Couple: $2,837*
Note: these are maximum benefit amounts and the actual benefit that is approved may be less.
Who is Eligible to Receive Aid and Attendance Benefits?
There are three aspects of eligibility – Service, Medical and Financial.
Service. The basic service qualification is that the veteran must have served at least 90 days of active military duty, with at least one of those days during wartime (as defined by the Veteran’s Administration). Additionally, the veteran must have received a discharge that was other than dishonorable.
Medical. The veteran or surviving spouse must show that they require the “aid and attendance” of another person to perform the basic activities of daily living. The VA defines the need for aid and attendance as:
- Requiring the aid of another person to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting prosthetic devices or protecting himself/herself from the hazards of his/her daily environment, or
- Being blind or nearly blind, or
- Being bedridden, in that his/her disability or disabilities requires that he/she remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment, or
- Being a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity.
Financial. Qualifying under the asset test can be tricky. The basic requirements state that the person requesting the benefit must have a financial need. Each application is evaluated individually. Although you may hear or read that having up to $80,000 in assets (exclusive of a home and a car) is acceptable, consider this merely a general rule of thumb. In contrast to Medicaid eligibility, there are no set asset limits when it comes to Aid and Attendance eligibility. The final decision regarding the asset test depends on the VA reviewer. In addition to the asset test, there also is an income test. As with the asset test, there is no specified income limit. However, the VA considers what it refers to as IVAP – Income for VA Purposes. IVAP is equal to your gross income from all sources, less a portion of unreimbursed medical expenses. If your IVAP is not less than the annual benefit amount, you will not be eligible for benefits.
How Can I Qualify for Aid and Attendance Benefits?
What if you are service and medically eligible, but have too many assets or too much income to qualify? You may consider rearranging your assets and/or income to qualify, which may include re-titling or giving away assets, or establishing a Veterans Administration Aid and Attendance Pensions Benefits Trust. Making these types of changes is perfectly legal, but doing so properly can be complicated. Beware that some actions taken to qualify for VA benefits could create a penalty period, or perhaps even disqualify you entirely from receiving Medicaid benefits should they be needed.
Business Resources for Returning Veterans
American Hometown Heroes was founded to assist Veterans who are looking to start a new business. Through this initiative, independent yellow page publishers have banded together to provide professional advice and marketing assistance to any returning veteran with a desire to start a new business in their hometown (or has recently started a local business) – all at no charge to them! The program includes a comprehensive advertising program for an entire year. Find out if you qualify for the American Hometown Heroes program and sign up to get started.
What is VA Disability Compensation?
If you are a war veteran who has been wounded in battle or suffer from a service related disease or condition such as those caused by exposure to agent orange, you may be eligible for VA compensation. The VA Disability Compensation is a tax free benefit that is paid to veterans who suffer from service related disabilities. To be eligible for this benefit, you need to be at least 10% disabled due to your condition that you suffered or aggravated:
- During your service in the armed forces.
- During active training duty.
- During inactive duty in the armed forces.
In other words, any disability or disease incurred during your armed service could qualify you for this tax free benefit. Your eligibility is not affected by your income or the assets.
The amount you receive will depend on the degree of the disability which will be measured on a scale ranging from 10% to 100% in 10% increments. Additionally, disabilities that were incurred after your service ended, but related to your stint in the armed forces or those that are secondary to your main disability also make you eligible for this benefit.
The compensation benefit amount range is as follows:
- $129 per month for veterans that have a 10% disability rating and no dependents up to
- $2,973 per month for veterans that have a 100% disability rating and are married.
If you have dependents, an additional allowance may be added if your combined disability is rated 30% or greater. Your compensation may be offset if you receive military retirement pay, disability severance pay, or separation incentive payments.
What is DIC (Dependency and Indemnity Compensation)?
This is a special benefit that will be paid to a deceased veteran’s surviving loved ones. These include spouses who remain unmarried after their partner’s demise and unmarried children no older than 18 years of age.
This will only be applicable if the survivors of the deceased prove that the death was the result of injuries or illnesses incurred during active duty. Disabled children and children under 23 years old who are attending school are also eligible for this benefit. DIC payments amount to $1,251 each month.
How do I qualify for the benefits?
In order to ensure you qualify for the benefits, you must meet the following requirements:
- You were in the uniformed services as an active personnel
- You were involved in active/inactive training duty.
- You received a discharge under other than dishonorable conditions.
- You were 10% disabled through either an injury or disease incurred during the abovementioned service/training duty.
Please note that disabilities incurred during inactive duty due to a heart attack or stroke will make you eligible for this benefit.
How to Prove your Case
Before presenting your case to the Board for consideration, you need to ensure the proper documentation is in place. This includes:
- Medical evidence or certification regarding an existing physical/mental condition.
- Proof of the relationship between the proposed disability and the injury/disease/military event that caused it.
Please note that under certain conditions, regardless of proof, the VA may themselves acknowledge certain existing disabilities were caused due to service in the armed forces. The following types of veterans may be deemed eligible for this:
- Former POWs (prisoners of war).
- Those who contracted certain tropical ailments that emerged after a certain time period post discharge from service.
- Veterans affected by ionization radiation or some herbicides while serving in Vietnam for instance.
- Those who inhaled mustard gas or were affected by Lewisite during service.
- Veterans who did a turn in Southwest Asia for the Gulf War.
You gave your service for the country. It’s time the nation gave back!
If you think you may qualify and could use this benefit that you have earned, please feel free to call us for a no obligation, no charge consultation at 256-237-3339.
Appeal Denial of VA Pension or Compensation Benefits
- Was your VA compensation claim denied even though your suffer from a service related disability?
- Was your VA Pension claim denied even though you are over 65 or disabled and believe you are entitled to benefits?
- Was your application for Medicaid to cover your nursing home bills denied?
If the answer to any of the abovementioned questions is ‘yes’ then get ready for some great news! You have the right to appeal the denials and get all of the benefits you deserve. However, you have to file by the deadline or you will lose your right to appeal.
Why Hire an Attorney to File Your Appeal
Most people will find the appeals process very frustrating. The VA and Medicaid have many unwritten rules and procedures. They do not even disclose all of the criteria for eligibility. The VA does not disclose how it decides when your assets are "too much" to qualify. We have the experience and knowledge to navigate the complicated process. We can fight for the benefits denied to you by the VA.
To appeal your denial of your VA Pension benefits, you have to file a “Notice of Disagreement” or appeal with the Board of Veteran’s Appeals within 1 year from the date you got your denial notice. You may appeal a complete or partial denial of your claim or you may appeal the level (i.e. the amount) of benefit granted.
Each case is handled by highly qualified attorneys and board members who have had extensive experience reviewing a veteran claims. You need an attorney on your side who is familiar with the process. If you receive an unfavorable decision from the VA, we can take care of all the technical aspects when filing your appeal. We will make sure your application is correct and will then present evidence in front of the board to support the validity of your claim.
What if I can’t afford an Attorney?
Many people cannot afford to hire an attorney. Therefore, we do not charge you any up front charge to handle your appeal. If we lose – you don’t have to pay a cent! You only pay us if we win your appeal. Our charges will be taken as a small percentage of any back pay you receive.
Additionally, if your Medicaid benefits have been denied to you, you can appeal your case directly to the Alabama Medicaid Agency. If your Medicaid benefits have been terminated or stopped altogether, you can choose to keep receiving them until the appeal is resolved. However, you must request this in writing within 10 days of the benefit elimination date that will be given in your official letter of denial. If you do not do so, your Medicaid benefits will come to a stop on the stated date. However, if you file the appeal, you or your loved ones can still receive those benefits until your appeal is resolved.
Denial of Appeal
As mentioned before, if your appeal is successful, you will continue to receive your Medicaid benefits. However, if your appeal is denied, you will have to pay Medicaid back for all benefits received during the appeal process. We will work with you to do everything we can to make sure your claim is approved.