Veterans

Handling Veteran Non-Service Disability Pension Denial

What to do if your claim for Non-Service Disability Pension for Housebound and Aid & Attendance is DENIED.

by Rita Files - 

Did you know that 75% of claims filed for the VA Aid & Attendance benefits are denied the first time they are submitted? Many times it is due to lack of sufficient documentation, or the claim is not complete. The veteran or surviving spouse often gives up and ends up not taking advantage of this program.

The correct name of this benefit is the Non-Service Disability Pension; however, it is commonly referred to as the VA Benefit for Aid & Attendance. The purpose of the benefit is to supplement the income of Veterans and Surviving Spouses, or those who have high monthly out of pocket medical expense. A Veteran or Surviving Spouse must be age 65 or older and have served a minimum of 90 days in the military with one of those days during wartime. The additional monthly income can be used to pay for home care, assisted living, adult day care, family caregivers as well as recurring expenses for insurance premiums, pharmacy co-pays and more.

Veteran Files focuses primarily on assisting Veterans in attaining this benefit through the initial claim process, as well as with claims that have been denied. Through a comprehensive Care & Resource consultation, we help Veterans determine if they are eligible and whether to file for the benefit.

In the case of denied claims, we have had tremendous success with having the decision reversed; the Veteran or Surviving Spouse not only receives the additional income, but in most cases they also receive retroactive benefits from the date the VA was notified of the intention to file a claim. With experience in the eldercare industry as well as accreditation through the Department of Veteran Affairs as a Claims Agent, we thoroughly review the denied claim, file a notice of disagreement on the outcome and take the necessary steps to win a reversal on the outcome of the claim.

If you or someone you know has applied for the Non-Service Connected Disability Pension with Housebound or Aid & Attendance benefits and has been denied within the past year, contact us today for a review of the paperwork initially submitted. Our goal is to get your claim back on the right path to a successful outcome.

Veteran Files™ assists Senior Veterans, Surviving Spouses of Veterans and Veteran families navigate the complexities of the Non-service Connected VA Disability Pension for Housebound and Aid & attendance Benefits. Rita Files, founder of Veteran Files, is one of less than 250 accredited VA claims agents in the United States. Ms. Files has been working as an eldercare and Veteran for over 20 years.

More informaLearn more about Rita Files on her Author page.

Veteran Benefits: Increase in Benefit Amount Effective 12/1/2011

by Rita Files -

This month Veterans and their survivors saw a cost of living adjustment (COLA) increase in their compensation and pension payment rates for the first time since 2009.

Like military retirement pay, the survivor benefit plan (annuity), and social security, the monthly payment rates for Dept. of Veterans Affairs’ disability compensation and veteran pensions are annually adjusted for inflation. This means that the present year’s rate of inflation is used to determine the following year’s COLA increases.

According to the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), the inflation rate continued to increase in August, which resulted in a 2011 COLA rate of 3.7%. This marks the first COLA increase in two years.

The new non-service connected pension (commonly called the Aid and Attendance Benefit) rates:

Single Veteran

  • Base: $12,256 annually; $1,021 monthly
  • Housebound: $14,978 annually; $1,248 monthly
  • Aid and Attendance: $20,447 annually; $1,703 monthly

Veteran & Spouse

  • Base: $16,051 annually; $1,337 monthly
  • Housebound: $18,773 annually; $1,564 monthly
  • Aid and Attendance : $24,239 annually; $2,019 monthly

Surviving Spouse

  •  Base: $8,219 annually; $684 monthly
  •  Housebound: $10,046 annually; $837 monthly
  •  Aid and Attendance : $13,138 annually; $1,094 monthly

Honor Vets by Being Informed

by Rita Files -

Too often, veterans go without services they need simply because they are unaware of the benefits they earned through their service.

Consider the “Aid and Attendance” benefit, which helps veterans and surviving spouses pay for assisted living care in the home, nursing home, or assisted living facility. Millions of veterans and their families are failing to take advantage of this benefit. According to recent reports, approximately 105,000 veterans were using this benefit last year. Yet the pool for recipients could be much higher: there are 2.3 million World War II vets still living, along with 2.6 million living Korean War vets and 7.7 million Vietnam vets.

The benefit is significant. It pays up to $2,019 per month to provide care for single or married veterans, or their surviving spouses.  Applicants must meet certain medical and financial thresholds, but eligibility it is not dependent on service-related injuries, or even overseas service.   Too many veterans and their families are simply unaware of this benefit, or may assume they are ineligible.

It doesn’t have to be this way. By becoming informed citizens and neighbors, we can make sure our elderly veterans are getting the care they deserve.  It doesn’t take long. Start with a trusted and informative site, such The Department of Veterans Affairs’ recently launched website, www.ebenefits.va.gov.  In addition, www.veteranfiles.com offers independent and updated information on veteran’s benefits, including a newsfeed on veterans’ issues.
Here’s another reason to become informed: elderly vets often fall prey to “experts” offering free seminars on veterans’ benefits.   Such seminars frequently pitch financial products that do not take into account a veteran’s full financial picture, and such as Medicaid eligibility. Left to go it alone with the “experts”, veterans and their families can actually end up worse off.
Seeking expert advice can help veterans make the most of their benefits – just be sure the advice is from an Accredited Individual, which include attorneys, claims agents and veteran service representatives.  Accredited individuals have passed VA-administered testing and character checks that ensure veterans get qualified assistance in presenting their claims. And by law, accredited individuals do not charge a fee for their claims services. To find an Accredited Claims Agent or to check accreditation, visit the Department of Veterans Affairs website, www.va.gov.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has launched several initiatives to encourage veterans to take advantage of the services and benefits they earned. But it is up to all of us as citizens to be informed about veterans’ benefits.  Informed, neighbor-to-neighbor outreach can help a struggling veteran and families get the help they deserve.

Rita Files, LPN, CALA, is a nationally recognized expert on the knowledge and skills needed for working with the elderly. She has more than 30 years of experience in

Using VA Aid and Attendance: Pay Any Person for Care in the Home

Rita Files -

Veterans Administration Aid and Attendance Benefit Pays In Home Care.

Most people who have heard about the VA Non-service Connected Disability Pension for Aid & Attendance know that it will cover the costs of assisted living and, in some cases, cover nursing home costs as well. But the majority of those receiving long term care in this country are in their homes. Estimates are that approximately 70% to 80% of all long term care is being provided in the home. All of the information available about Pension overlooks the fact that this benefit could be used to pay for home care. Maybe if more people knew this fact, more people would be applying for the benefit.

It also comes as a surprise to most people that VA will allow veterans’ households to deduct the annual cost of paying any person such as family members, friends or hired help for care when calculating the Pension benefit. This annual cost is then used to calculate the benefit based on a new “countable income” and allows families earning more than the pension benefit to receive a disability income from VA.

This extra income can be a welcome benefit for families struggling to provide eldercare for loved ones at home. Under the right circumstances, this annualized medical expense for the cost of family members, friends or any other person providing care, could create an additional household income of up to $1056 a month for a single surviving spouse of a veteran, up to $1,644 a month for a single veteran or up to $1,949 a month for a couple.

All reasonable fees paid to the individual for personal care of the Veteran or surviving spouse and maintenance of the person’s immediate environment may be allowed. This includes such services as cooking and housecleaning. It is not necessary to distinguish between “medical” and “non-medical” services. Services which are beyond the scope of personal care and maintenance of the disabled person’s immediate environment may not be allowed. This might include paying the bills, providing transportation for other family members, cooking and cleaning for other family members, providing entertainment, providing transportation for personal needs other than medical and so on.

One of the Military’s Best Kept Secrets

Veterans Non-Service Connected Disability Pension Benefit or the Veteran’s Aid and Attendance benefit for short

By Rita Files

If you are you one of the 10 million plus baby boomers caring for an aging parent who is financially struggling to meet the expenses of additional medical and care costs you would be well served to learn about one of the best kept “military secrets” . . . the Veterans Non-Service Connected Disability Pension Benefit, commonly called the Veteran’s Aid and Attendance benefit.

This little known, underutilized VA Disability Pension benefit provides Veterans and surviving spouses of Veterans that are low income or have high out of pocket monthly medical expense with additional monetary benefits to supplement the cost of care and services that they may need. The benefit is significant. It pays up to $1,949 per month to provide care for single or married veterans, or their surviving spouses. Applicants must meet certain medical and financial thresholds, but eligibility is not dependent on service-related injuries, or even overseas service.

To be eligible, the veteran must have served a minimum of 90 days of active military service 1 day of which was during a war period and have been discharged from service under conditions other than dishonorable.

The 3 tiers of VA Pension are:

  1. Basic Pension — paid to veterans age 65 or older, or, if under 65, are permanently and totally disabled and surviving spouses with countable family income below the yearly limit set by law or those who have no income.
  2. Aid & Attendance — additional benefit amount paid in addition to basic pension when the claimant can no longer manage the functions of day to day living. Factors such as not being able to self medicate, cook and clean, bathe, and needing assistance with mobility are all examples of aid and attendance requirements.
  3. Housebound — additional benefit amount paid in addition to basic pension when a claimant is substantially confined to a premise and dependent upon others to get around. If the claimant does not drive, this would be a key indicator for eligibility.

The housebound or aid & attendance benefit is often used to defray the cost of home care, assisted living or skilled nursing care for a veteran or the veteran’s spouse. In addition, the benefit can be used to compensate a friend or family member who functions as the caregiver for an elderly loved one.

Seeking expert advice can help veterans make the most of their benefits — just be sure the advice is from an Accredited Individual, which includes attorneys, claims agents and veteran service representatives. By law, organizations and individuals must be recognized or accredited by the Department of Veteran Affairs to represent Veterans in their claims for VA benefits. The purpose of this requirement is to ensure that Veterans have qualified and competent representation.

Millions of veterans and their families are failing to take advantage of this benefit simply because they do not know it exists. According to recent reports, approximately 105,000 veterans were using this benefit last year. Yet the pool for recipients could be much higher: there are 2.3 million World War II vets still living, along with 2.6 million living Korean War vets and 7.7 million Vietnam vets.

It doesn’t have to be this way. By becoming informed citizens and neighbors, we can make sure our elderly veterans are getting the benefits they deserve and the care they need.