If you are a disabled military veteran, you probably have substantial ongoing medical expenses. As a wartime veteran, you and your spouse are eligible for the tax-free Aid and Attendance benefit from the Department of Veteran Affairs if you are able to meet certain requirements.
Determining the rating for eligibility
Information from medical reports, physicians and hospitals is reviewed by veteran service representatives who will produce a rating decision concerning your need for aid and attendance help. However, if you are a nursing home patient, or if you are either blind or having severe visual issues, benefit approval is automatic.
Understanding the criteria
You will find that the VA Aid and Attendance program is designed to help with the costs of long-term care for qualified veterans or their spouses who need help with daily activities, such as dressing, bathing, eating, going to the toilet or using a prosthetic device. If you are incapacitated, you may also require assistance to protect against hazards that are found in the daily environment. Not all these conditions need to be present though, for the VA to determine a favorable rating; each is weighed in relation to your overall condition. It is only necessary to show that you require regularly scheduled and ongoing aid and assistance provided by another person.
Bedridden versus housebound
The term "bedridden" applies to a need rather than a desire for a claimant to be confined to bed. "Housebound" is a term that means "permanently housebound by reason of disability or disabilities." The latter condition is met if you should be confined to the immediate premises, whether at home or in an institution, where you cannot leave the area without the supervision of someone else. The term could even be applied to a situation in which a disability prevents you from being able to drive. Both bedridden and housebound are terms that by themselves allow for a rating in favor of aid and attendance.
Information required for the Aid and Attendance benefit
In order to apply for this benefit, you must complete applications and provide information such as income sources, employment history, medical conditions and military discharge or separation details. You will need to furnish information about net worth, which would include details about trusts, annuities, stocks and bank accounts; insurance premiums; and a list of doctors and hospitals you visited during the previous year. Marriage certificate and Social Security award letter copies must also be supplied. In short, the process of obtaining the VA Aid and Attendance benefit may seem overwhelming, but an attorney experienced with elder law can help cut through the red tape and assist you and your spouse in getting the help you need to manage the medical costs for your long-term care.