Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit – Long Term Care Benefits for Veterans

Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit — Long Term Care Benefits for Veterans What Is the Aid and Attendance Benefit? The Veterans Benefits Administration offers a disability income available to veterans who served during a period of war or to their surviving spouses. This special benefit is officially called “pension” but is more popularly known as the “veterans aid and attendance pension benefit”. For a pension benefit for veterans younger than 65, evidence of total of disability must be provided. Veterans 65 and older do not have to disabled.

The National Care Planning Council estimates that as much as 30% of the US population over the age of 65 would qualify for the aid and attendance pension benefit under the right circumstances. That’s how many war veterans or surviving spouses of veterans there are. The benefit is such a well-kept secret that only a small fraction of these eligible veterans are actually receiving it. Death pension — a benefit available to a surviving spouse– is a lesser amount based on the same rules for applying for a living pension claim. In other words, the deceased veteran must have met the rules for pension — with the exception of being totally disabled or over age 65 — or have been receiving pension in order for his or her spouse to receive the lesser benefit. In addition, in order to be eligible or keep receiving the benefit, the surviving spouse must remain single.

Who can submit a claim? A claim is submitted by the veteran or by the veteran’s single surviving spouse in the case of a death claim. A duly appointed service organization, an employee of the local regional VA office, or a VA approved agent may file a claim on behalf of the veteran or the spouse. A claim cannot be filed with a general or durable power of attorney. The application will be sent back requesting proper documentation for a VA power of attorney. The veteran must sign a document specifically authorizing a power of attorney for someone to submit an initial claim for him. Many chagrined children with a durable power of attorney have submitted claims on behalf of a parent only to have the claim rejected by VA.

What happens if the veteran is incompetent? If the veteran cannot submit the original application or sign a power of attorney for a surrogate to file an application, then a duly appointed guardian can complete the application. VA also allows the spouse, a parent or next of kin, or a friend to complete and submit an application on behalf of an incompetent veteran if that person submits the proper power of attorney request and indicates the applicant could be considered incompetent for financial affairs. Even though the veteran or surviving spouse may be incompetent for financial affairs, he or she should always sign the power of attorney request if he or she is competent to do so. VA may appoint a fiduciary to take over the claim and the affairs for the claimant if VA determines he or she is incompetent.

How does VA handle power of attorney? Employees of VA and veterans service organizations already have authorization for power of attorney to file an application on behalf of the veteran. They have forms for the veteran to sign to allow this to happen. An attorney representing the veteran in other affairs can also request a power of attorney in the proper format and on his or her letterhead. Any single individual may also submit a letter requesting power of attorney to submit an application if it is signed by the veteran and if the letter provides certain required information. There is also a VA form in the book support packet that can be submitted for power of attorney. All attorney requests submitted for power of attorney must state that the veteran is not paying a fee to file the application on his or her behalf.
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