We know that VA benefits are only available to veterans, but in previous posts we’ve looked at situations where people other than veterans are entitled to benefits (usually dependents of veterans or surviving family members). Today we are going to look at a type of special monthly compensation (SMC) known as Aid and Attendance (A&A). Aid and Attendance is a special allowance rate for veterans, or spouses and parents, who require aid and attendance or who are permanently housebound. Severely disabled veterans in need of regular aid and attendance or daily health-care services, or their family member, may be eligible to receive this additional compensation. These benefits are paid in addition to the regular disability payments received from the VA.
A&A is available to veterans who require aid and attendance, as well as to qualifying family members that are in need of government support because they have serious disabilities. We will first look at A&A available to the family members with severe disabilities.
The VA has two programs for qualifying family members that need financial support because of serious disabilities. As discussed in previous posts, the allowances are only available for family members who qualify as a spouse, surviving spouse, parent, or surviving parent.
The VA will pay family members a special allowance if they fall into one of the two following categories:
- The first category applies if the family member is in need of aid and attendance.
- The second category is if the family member does not need daily assistance but is permanently housebound. They would then qualify for housebound benefits (HB).
Both Aid and Attendance and Housebound Benefits each have their own special allowance rate for the purposes of calculating the total amount of benefits.
A&A and housebound benefits are payable to the veteran to compensate them for the severe disability of a spouse. This only applies as long as the veteran is living. If the veteran is found incompetent by the VA, then the benefit is paid to the veteran’s guardian (even if the benefit is for the spouse’s disability and the veteran’s guardian is not the veteran’s spouse, it still goes to the guardian and not the spouse). If the veteran has deceased, their survivor is the one who receives the benefit directly (either through DIC or death pension payments). A living veteran is entitled to receive additional compensation for a disabled spouse only if the veteran has been rated at least 30% disabled.
The need for A&A can be established by evidence from a medical professional (such as a physician, certified nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, or physician assistant) stating that the person is legally blind, in a nursing home because of mental or physical incapacity, or evidence showing they are so nearly helpless as to be incontinent, unable to perform basic life functions, or unable to protect themselves from the hazards/dangers of daily life. An example of this would be if the person has Alzheimer’s disease that causes them to wander off when not watched. The doctor should also give the specific diagnosis of each physical or mental disability and specify which special need the person has, including any other essential needs the person cannot fulfill on their own.
The evidence should document the inability to function on his or her own. If you cannot establish a need for A&A, you can still qualify for a special allowance showing that you are permanently housebound. This is established by showing that the person is “substantially confined” to their home because of a disability or disabilities that are reasonably certain to continue throughout the person’s lifetime. The VA must rely on competent medical evidence in making a determination on aid and attendance.
The veteran is required to submit a VA Form 21-2680, Examination for Housebound Status or Permanent Need for Regular Aid and Attendance.