The Veterans Aid and Attendance program provides assistive care benefits for veterans, a spouse of a veteran, or a spouse of a deceased veteran needing help with daily activities of living, such as bathing or dressing. Only those already receiving a VA pension may be eligible to receive these assistive care services, whether in-home or in a long-term care facility. The VA pension eligibility is a needs-based program, awarded to veterans and their families to provide help throughout their aging years.

Below is a high-level overview of eligibility criteria to help you understand if you qualify, so you can take advantage these helpful services.

Checklist for Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefits

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, to qualify for benefits, an individual must:

  • Be a veteran, spouse of veteran, or spouse of deceased veteran
  • Have had at least 90 days of active duty service
  • Have had at least one day of active duty service during a wartime event. Service does not have to be in a combat theater.
  • Have less than $20,000 in assets, excluding home.
  • Meet ONE of the following health status criteria:
    • Have a disability that leaves them bedridden
    • Live in a nursing home because they cannot provide basic care for themselves
    • Have an eyesight of 5/200 or below in both eyes
    • Require aid and attendance of someone to help them carry out two of six activities of daily living: eating, preparing meals, walking, dressing, bathing, or toileting

 Veterans who have been dishonorably discharged do not qualify. Allowances may be made for veterans 65 years of age and older who have a permanent disability. 

The maximum pension amount individuals will receive once qualified for Aid and Attendance differs on a case-by-case basis. Below are the current maximum monthly benefit amounts as of 2018: 


Annual Benefit

Monthly Benefit

Surviving spouse



Single veteran



Married veteran



What about surviving spouses?

I often get questions about surviving spouses of veterans. What happens if the veteran is of good health, yet their spouse has health care needs and incurs staggering medical bills? 

According to, the spouse of a veteran who incurs health care costs is eligible to receive no more than $1,176 each month. Similarly, a veteran with a sick spouse is eligible to receive no more than $1,436 each month. These figures are of January 1, 2018.

Proposed changes for Veterans Aid and Attendance benefits qualifications

There are several proposed changes to qualifications that may, unfortunately, make it more difficult for veterans or family members to qualify, and reduces the amount of money and property they can protect. If you want to read the full legislation, go to and read their article entitled “Net Worth, Asset Transfers, and Income Exclusions for Needs-Based Benefits.”

I strongly urge you, if you are a veteran, or you are the spouse or child of one, to sift through the proposed changes to see how you might be impacted.

For a more detailed discussion of current eligibility and qualifications for the Veterans Aid and Attendance program, please see my blog post at

About the Author

Greg McIntyre, principal of McIntyre Elder Law, is a VA Certified and Elder Law Attorney in North Carolina. Mr. McIntyre is an expert in helping seniors protect their lifestyle and preserve their legacies, while accessing the best health care options. Mr. McIntyre recently published a book on aging: Saving the Farm: A practical guide to the legal maze of aging in America. For more information, visit his website at

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