There is generally some confusion as to who is entitled to receive Improved Pension benefits, probably because of the way the benefits are named. Most people are familiar with the Aid and Attendance program, but it is only one level of the VA’s “Improved Pension” benefit. The other levels are “housebound” and “basic” pension. The term “pension” is a misnomer because it has nothing to do with how much time was served in the Armed Services.
While Aid and Attendance is only available for a veteran, or his surviving spouse who require assistance with their activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, cooking, etc., the “basic” pension may be available for the spouse who is not a Veteran, (but who requires care in an ALF) where the Veteran is still able to live at home.
In order for Aid and Attendance to work, the Veteran must be incurring unreimbursed medical expenses (“UME’s”) of his/her own. However, if the Veteran does not have UME’s, but is over the age of 65, their spouse’s UME’s will be used to adjust the couple’s income for VA purposes. Thus, if the ill spouse’s medical costs are wiping out the Vet and ill spouse’s monthly income, they could qualify for the “basic” pension. The maximum benefit for a veteran with one dependent (in 2012) is $1,337 per month.
For more information about Veteran’s Affairs and benefits, please contact the Elder Law Offices of Law Ohall today.