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Optimizing pension benefits for veterans and spouses

The right to independence is a core American value, something many have committed their lives to defending in service to the country. Living life independently on our own terms ranks equally high on that value scale. Sadly, aging has a way of slowly eroding our abilities to perform the basic activities of daily living.

Aware of that and the debt owed to those who braved conflicts serving in the military, Congress has created the Improved Pension Program. One specific benefit included in the IPP aims to defray the rising costs of Aid and Attendance (A&A) for many wartime veterans and/or their spouses. Many may be unaware of this benefit, however, a situation this post hopes to correct.

What A&A does

If you are a veteran or a veteran's spouse receiving a VA pension, the A&A amounts to an increase in your monthly pension if any of the following conditions apply:

  • You are an eligible veteran or spouse who needs another person's help with bathing, eating, dressing, using the toilet, prosthetic assistance or protection from hazards of your daily environment.
  • You receive treatment for a disability but are confined to bed otherwise.
  • Mental or physical incapacity requires you to be in nursing home care.
  • You suffer severe visual impairment.

A&A, also known by such names as the VA assisted living benefit or veterans elder care benefit, is just one of three tiers of support available under the VA's Improved Pension Plan. The others are the Basic and Housebound tiers.

If you have questions about whether you qualify or how to go about applying for any of these aids, contact an attorney with veteran's benefits experience.

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