“With malice toward none, with charity for all…let us strive …to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow…”
Abraham Lincoln, March 1865
The month of November is National Veterans and Military Families Month. And Nov. 11 is Veterans Day, a day to celebrate America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
Today, there are more than 16 million veterans in the United States, and more than half of them are age 65 or older.
A significant number of them may need assistance in some form or another but aren’t aware of available programs. That’s where the Veterans Affairs’ Aid and Attendance program comes into action.
Aid and Attendance is a needs-based program paid to a veteran or the widow/widower of a veteran (who hasn’t remarried) whose health condition requires non-medical, or personal care. This benefit will pay for long-term care, adult day care, skilled nursing care or house care, as well as be used to pay a family member other than a spouse to care for the veteran at home.
Many veterans and their families may not be aware of Aid and Attendance or are unsure how to take advantage of it and start receiving the benefits they deserve. Most believe they are only entitled to benefits if they were wounded or disabled while they served in the armed forces.
That is not the case. The veteran only needs to meet the following military service requirements to see if he or she qualifies.
- Served at least 90 days of active military duty, one day of which was during a war-time period.
- The veteran was honorably discharged from the service.
You must also meet at least one of the following physical requirements:
- You need another person to help you perform and complete five activities of daily living (ADLs), which are eating, bathing, toileting, dressing and transferring (walking).
- You stay in bed or spend most of the day in bed due to illness.
- Your eyesight is limited to 5/200 even with glasses or contact lenses, or you have a concentric visual field that’s contracted to 5 degrees or less.
The dates of military service determined by the VA are as follows:
- World War II: Dec. 7, 1941 – Dec. 31, 1946
- Korean War: June 27, 1950 – Jan. 31, 1955
- Vietnam War: Feb. 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975
- Persian Gulf War: Aug. 2, 1990 – present
To qualify doesn’t mean the veteran had to be involved in the fighting, or even in the field of operations. For example, your father was in the Air Force during the Vietnam War but stationed in Germany. Under the current guidelines, your father can qualify.
If you meet all the criteria for a service pension, you still must go through the application process. The VA pension application asks for many pieces of supporting documentation, everything from military discharge papers (the DD-214), to bank statements and marriage licenses.
Once the actual application is completed and filed with the VA, the approval process is slow; it could take up to six to nine months to hear back. However, the benefit is retroactive to the month after the application is submitted.
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