Aid and Attendance benefits are fantastically easy to request. The idea behind today’s article is to share how and what to think about when military families are seeking aid and attendance.
Thus, I hope you find value in this short outline.
Aid and Attendance Benefits: First Issue
The first issue is determining how to seek this all important benefit. When I advise a Veteran and their family on this issue, I always ask where the Veteran is living. Here is why this question is important.
- If the Veteran (or their spouse / dependent) is living in a nursing home, VA Form 21-0779 is used to request aid and attendance.
- If the Veteran lives anywhere else, then VA Form 21-2680 is the better form to utilize.
VA Forms for Aid and Attendance
Between you and me, I like the second form much better. First, I believe it gives more control to the family seeking this benefit on behalf of their loved ones. Second, it requires seeking help from the Veteran’s )or their spouse / dependent) personal medical doctor.
Compare this to VA Form 21-0779. Although helpful in requesting benefits, I generally dislike this type of application because it asks the nursing home for their input.
The point I am trying to make is this: I trust my personal medical doctor more than my nursing home. Also, experience tells me it is easier to acquire help from a medical professional versus a nursing home administrator.
Pension Management Centers for VA Benefits
Once a Veteran and their family has selected the form that applies to their situation, the next step is the process of submitting it to the right people or department.
Because the aid and attendance benefit aligns with pension benefits, the PMC or Pension Management Center is the place that reviews the VA forms referenced above. As of the date of this article, there are 3 different Veteran PMC offices and they review issues based on the state where the Vet resides.
Here is a link to the three Pension Management Centers.
Nobody is Getting Rich from their Pension
The greater the disability, the greater the benefit. Very few military families and Veterans contact me because they are looking to get rich from their aid and attendance benefits. This is an earned benefit about acquiring help and assistance.
As a result, I think it is to the Claimant’s advantage to describe their personal situation as a detriment. In other words, if the Veteran (or spouse / dependent) needs help cooking bathing, using the restroom, etc., then stop the doctor or nursing home administrator from sugar coating the need. Again, the greater the disability, the greater the benefit.
Aid and Attendance Benefits vs. Housebound Benefits
Here is another important and surprising point: by rule, Veterans and their families cannot receive household benefits in addition to their aid and attendance. In other words, it is one or the other. Obviously, the next issue turns on acquiring the benefit that offers the highest monetary return.
Thus, choosing which benefit is better calls for weighing a hodgepodge of disability ratings and need.
Do This Before Veterans Need Aid and Attendance
Before I close, I want Veterans and their families to realize that planning for every life event is hard. As they say, hindsight is 20/20. If there is time, I think Veterans, their spouses and dependents should consider acquiring a power of attorney and healthcare directive as soon as possible.
I make this suggestion because it gives our loved ones power to act on our behalf when we need it the most. Even more significant, the generic form of these types of estate planning documents are free. Otherwise, part of my law practice includes drafting more personalized health care directives and related estate planning documents.
If you and your family need help, please contact me directly.