What Is the VA Aid and Attendance Program?

The US Department of Veterans Affairs offers an Improved Pension benefit to all members of the military requiring additional support for day-to-day activities after retiring from the armed forces through the Aid and Attendance Program. The program is designed to help veterans and surviving spouses of veterans receive financial assistance to pay for ongoing care after exiting the military. 


All veterans who have been honorably discharged are eligible for Aid and Attendance benefits. The benefits will help to provide assistance once Basic and Housebound programs have been exhausted. These programs are aimed at the neediest veterans, such as those who suffered serious disability while in the military. The vast majority of veterans will not need these first and second tier benefits, but they may still need help eating, bathing, dressing, initiating medications or taking care of other basic functions. As a result, the third tier of benefits was introduced through the Aid and Attendance program to help a wider range of people. Those individuals in a nursing home or assisted living facility will qualify. 

Benefit Amount

The benefit amount a veteran can receive will depend on the level of need the veteran has. Limits are set across the board, however. A veteran is eligible for up to $1,632 directly each month to assist in daily care. A surviving spouse who needs assistance is eligible for up to $1,055 per month. A couple may receive up to $1,949 per month. This money can pay for a nurse or assistant. It can also be used to compensate a family member who has to take time away from work in order to care for a veteran who can no longer care for him- or herself.

Claiming the Benefit

In addition to filling out a standard application for the benefit, you will need to supply documentation of the claims you make on your application. Those documents may include the following:

  • Discharge papers
  • Marriage certificate and death certificate for surviving spouses
  • Copy of Social Security award letter showing the monthly contribution you will receive from Social Security benefits
  • Net worth estimate including documentation of inheritance, brokerage accounts, and so on
  • Proof of all income, including income from investments
  • Proof of all bills you will be claiming as part of your declaration of need, including medical and insurance expenses
  • A physician's statement of your diagnosis
  • Bank information and a blank check to supply for direct deposit of your benefits
  • Employment history if you are younger than 65
  • List of all medical facilities visited within the past 12 months

Problems with Claiming Benefits

You may be denied benefits when you initially apply, but you have a right to continue to seek the benefits you need from the VA. If you do not qualify, ask the VA to supply documentation of the reason. The VA may require an independent physician's evaluation, for example, from a VA doctor in order to verify your condition. Take the steps to overcome this type of objection. If the amount of your benefit is not high enough to meet your financial needs, ask about supplying further documentation of your financial need in order to increase your benefit.

How do you qualify for the VA Aid and Attendance program?

You must qualify in two separate areas for the VA Aid and Attendance Program. First, you must qualify based on your service. Wartime veterans with over 90 days of active duty, with one of those days beginning or ending during a period of war, are eligible to apply. Periods of war are set and approved by Congress. You must also qualify medically. To do so, you must be a veteran or surviving spouse requiring assistance to carry out daily activities. This is verified through documentation and physician's evaluations. If you are in a nursing home or assisted living facility, you may qualify for the benefit.

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