Financial criteria to determine eligibility for Aid and Attendance is broken into two components – assets and income. Because Aid and Attendance is “means tested” and is granted only to those who genuinely need this benefit, not all who apply will receive an award.
While guidelines are in place, there are no completely hard and fast rules when it comes to granting an Aid and Attendance benefit, so potential applicants who are at designated thresholds or even slightly over are encouraged to apply since decisions are made case-by case.
Assets – In general, the VA uses $80,000 as a limiting amount. This does not include a home that the veteran or their spouse lives in, a single car and other personal goods such as furniture, household goods and jewelry.
If an applicant has more than $80,000 in assets such as stocks, bonds, savings accounts or a 401k, there’s a good chance their application will be denied.
Income – Congress determines the maximum countable income and to qualify, a veteran or their widow must have an amount below what is allowed. Countable income includes:
- Disability and retirement payments
- Interest and dividend payments
- Net income from a business
- Income from dependents
For 2015, the maximum annual pension income amounts including the Aid and Attendance benefits set by Congress are:
|Veteran with no dependents||$21,446||$1,788|
|Veteran with spouse or child||$25,448||$2,120|
|Two veterans married to each other||$33,702||$2,809|
|Surviving spouse/death pension||$13,794||$1,149|
When determining countable income, applicants can deduct cost of care and out-of-pocket medical expenses from their gross income. These expenses can include things such as Medicare premiums, prescription drug costs, Medicare supplement premiums, and expected assisted living costs.
A couple of examples may help illustrate what is acceptable:
Example 1 - Bob is a veteran with no dependents and has an annual income of $40,000, but has $25,000 in medical and related living expenses. His net countable income is $15,000, which is $6,446 below the maximum annual pension amount for his particular status. He would be entitled to a monthly award of $537.
Example 2 – Jeff and his wife Teresa have an annual income of $30,000, but they also have $15,000 in annual allowable expenses. Their net countable income is $15,000. However, they also have $125,000 in a 401k and savings accounts. Because they are above the $80,000 asset threshold limit, their application for Aid and Attendance would be denied.