VA Aid and Attendance Application Updates and Program Changes
Debbie Burak of VeteranAid.org has released an urgent alert
concerning several significant changes to the VA Enhanced Pension (Aid &
Attendance) application process, forms, and rules. With her permission we are
re-printing her Alert here so that it will reach as many people as possible.
Debbie Burak and her website VeteranAid.org is our "go to" resource for all
things Aid & Attendance. If you or your elder are part of this program, if
you are in the throes of the application process, or if you want to stay current
now that you're finally "in," you need to be aware of the VeteranAid site, and
we strongly recommend that you subscribe to their newsletter. It
doesn't come regularly or frequently - you will only hear from them when there
is something important to pass on about VA Aid & Attendance.
URGENT UPDATES ON VA AID & ATTENDANCE FORM CHANGES
Apologies for the length of this newsletter; however there have been a number
of recent changes made by the VA that impact procedures for a successfully
What you need to know:
- VA Form 21-534 (Application for a surviving spouse) has
been updated and requires more information regarding any previous
marriages. If you are in the process of gathering information for
submission, make certain that you have the most current and revised form.
The VA will not process the old form. The most current form is available
on the home page of the site if you need to verify you have the correct one or
check here. http://www.veteranaid.org/docs/21-534.pdf
- VA Form 21-22a (Claimant's Representative) The VA is no
longer processing this form until after a determination has been made on the
application for benefits, so including this form with your original application
currently will not serve any purpose and our recommendation is to not submit at
- VA Form 21-0845 ( Authorization to Disclose Personal Information to
a Third Party) http://www4.va.gov/vaforms/form_detail.asp?FormNo=21-0845
This is a new form the VA is using and MUST be submitted with the original
application package if you are going to be overseeing the application process
for your loved one. This form grants permission to the person listed to be able
to speak directly with the VA on behalf of the applicant. An additional
advantage of using the 21-0845 is that the form is supposed to be separated from
the application upon receipt of the application and sent to scanning so that it
is in the system at the processing center handling the claim. This is
actually a positive step on the VA's part to make communication for the family
- A huge change in how things are now being processed by the VA is that they
are no longer withholding monies on claims approved that require a
Fiduciary be appointed. In the past no money was being released
until the Fiduciary process was completed. This left families with
approved claims but no access to the muchly needed monthly income from the
pension to help pay for care. This is singularly one of the best things
the VA could have possibly done to truly assist our veterans and their families.
The Fiduciary process is still in place on those claims where the applicant has
been declared incompetent to manage their own affairs. Due to the limited
number of VA Field Agents, these appointments can take months to schedule, but
this change in policy will make the wait a little easier to tolerate.
- New Legislative Rule - If you can prove that medically and
financially you should have gotten the award up to 12 months before you filed,
the VA may give you the award for the 12 months prior. These letters
started changing a few months ago, so read carefully all correspondence from the
VA in reference to approval on your application. You would need a
Physician's evaluation that states as of ABC month, the applicant needed XYZ
help. You may qualify for the additional back payments and worth exploring
if you meet the criteria.
- Veteran with sick spouse - While the veteran has to qualify
for a spouse to benefit (unless they are widowed), what many do not realize is
that if the medical costs of the spouse depletes their combined monthly income,
the veteran is entitled to file as a "Veteran with a sick spouse" and would be
eligible for $1290 a month.
- Providing care at home - If the veteran or surviving spouse
is being cared for in a home by a family member or other non licensed healthcare
individual, you are required to call the primary Doctor or nurse and give
monthly updates as to how the veteran or widow is doing. Just a checking
in if you will, but this step is crucial for deducting caregiver's cost.
Again this is if the care is being provided by a non-licensed healthcare
individual. Many are unaware of this requirement, and if you have not done
so in the past, you need to start doing this to ensure there are no issues when
the yearly EVR (Eligibility Verification Report) comes due.
- Filing online with the VA - Beware if you are considering
filing your application online with the VA that their system is programmed to
automatically process the claim for "Disability Compensation" and not for
Pension Benefits. Aid and Attendance along with the other two levels of
the Improved Pension (Basic & Housebound) are not based on service related
injuries and should never be processed as Disability Compensation. If you
file on line your claim will be processed incorrectly and will result in a delay
of approval. You will be on hold until they rule the claim is denied for
"Service Connected Disability" at which time you will have to get he claim
processed for pension. You could lose a year+. Sorry to say that the
old fashion way of sending "Registered Return Receipt" is the only recommended
method for submitting for Pension Benefits.
A couple of questions we have received multiple inquires
- Pension increase for 2010 - There was no increase in pension amounts for
2010. Figures remain the same as 2009.
- Do I claim or report to the IRS income from Aid and Attendance? NO.
This is a tax-free pension and does not get claimed or reported for
You can see from this one example how useful the VeteranAid.org
newsletter is. I'm a loyal subscriber, and I strongly suggest that you check
it out and subscribe if you have any interest whatsoever in the Aid &
For Information about the VA
Aid & Attendance program