If you are a wartime veteran or the surviving spouse of a wartime veteran, you may be entitled to a widow's pension. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers two different special pensions called 'Housebound' and 'Aid and Attendance' (A&A).
To be eligible, the veteran must have served at least 90 days of active-duty military service, at least one day of which was served during a period of war. A longer time in service requirement may be required if discharged after September, 1980. The veteran need not have served in a combat area. The veteran's military discharge must be other than dishonorable. Since pension benefits are based on need, the VA determines if net-worth is sufficient to meet the claimant’s basic needs without assistance from the VA.
To qualify under the VA’s housebound category, you need to show that due to your disability you are substantially confined to your dwelling and the immediate premises. Additionally, a VA 21-2680 exam from must be completed by a Doctor and certify that the veteran or the surviving spouse is either housebound or needs the aid and attendance of some other person in order to perform daily functions.
Aid & Attendance (A&A)
To qualify under the Aid and Attendance, a veteran or surviving spouse must show one of the following:
- Requires the aid of another person in order to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting yourself from the hazards of your daily environment (minimum of two ADLs required), OR
- Is bedridden, in that your disability requires that you remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment, OR
- Is a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity, OR
- Is blind, or so nearly blind as to have corrected visual acuity of 5/200 or less, in both eyes, and concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.
VA must consider income from all sources when reviewing the application. This includes Social Security income, income from investments (interest income), retirement pensions or 401K, income from rental property, etc. If the veteran is married, the income from both is considered.
Some on-going medical expenses can be used to reduce countable income. This includes cost for Assisted Living care, in-home care, and medical supplemental insurances. If you have been rated 'Housebound' or in need of 'Aid & Attendance,' and you are paying for in-home care, the provider does not have to be a licensed health care provider for you to claim this deduction.