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Scotty Allison's Veterans Overwatch: Little-known benefit can help in care of veterans, spouses

Veterans Day has once again come and gone. Thanks to all those individuals, organizations, and businesses that honored our veterans and their families over this special holiday.

 Did you know that there is a benefit out there that helps pay for caregivers, assisted living, and nursing homes for veterans and their spouses?

 This little known and underused benefit is called the Aid and Attendance and Housebound Improved Pension. Basic eligibility for this pension is for a veteran to have served at least one day during a recognized period of war and who needs help with daily living. One point about this pension is that a veteran cannot receive both Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits at the same time.

 Aid and Attendance (A&A) is a special monthly pension benefit paid in addition to the basic veteran’s pension (which we discussed in a previous article). You may not receive A&A without first establishing eligibility for the basic pension. However, because A&A is based upon a higher income limit, an individual ineligible for basic pension due to excessive income may in fact be eligible for A&A.

 A veteran may be eligible for A&A when:

 1 – The Veteran requires the aid of another person in order to perform activities of daily living, or,

 2 – The Veteran is bedridden, in that his/her disability/disabilities requires that he/she remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment, or,

 3 – The Veteran is a patient in a nursing home which is due to mental/physical incapacity, or,

 4 – The Veteran has significant visual issues.

 Housebound is another pension benefit paid in addition to basic pension. Once again you must first establish eligibility for a basic VA pension and like A&A, Housebound is also based on a higher income limit. A veteran may be eligible for Housebound benefits when:

 1 – The veteran has a single permanent disability evaluated as 100 percent disabling and, due to such disability, he/she is permanently or substantially confined to his/her immediate premises, or,

 2 – The veteran has a single permanent disability evaluated as 100 percent disabling AND, another disability, or disabilities, evaluated as 60 percent or more disabling.

 So what is this benefit worth? Well a veteran with a spouse under A&A could receive up to $24,239 per year and a surviving spouse could receive $1,094 monthly. So bottom line with this pension – like all VA benefits – is when in doubt you need to apply.

 Another benefit available to veterans in Beltrami County is through an organization called Adult Day Services, Inc., which provides respite for veteran caregivers and depending on your situation their services could be paid for by the VA.

 Services they provide include transportation, nutritional meals and snacks, a registered nurse on staff, exercise programs and structured activities and socialization opportunities.

 I recently visited their facility and they are doing a great job for our Veterans and the respite that is provided to their spouses. If you are interested in this program you can, call (218) 751-1324 for more details.

 Don’t forget if you have any questions regarding veteran benefits, please call the County Veterans Service Office at (218) 333-4177/4178.

SCOTTY ALLISON is the Beltrami County Veterans Service Officer.