Cindy Speaker: We’re going to talk about the topic of aid and attendance today, a little known benefit available to some disabled veterans. Nathan, explain to us what exactly that is.
Nathan Guin: Basically aid and attendance is an additional benefit that veterans can receive either through pension or through their disability benefits for any number of things. There’s basic ones, there’s housebound. So essentially if you have … If you’re legally blind or if you have … You know, you need someone to help you or you’re in a nursing home or you need somebody for constant care, you can be eligible for aid and attendance benefits.
What that is, it’s just another benefit on top of any others you might be receiving to help compensate for any additional costs that might be incurred from having additional help or being in a nursing home or something to that affect.
Cindy Speaker: Okay. So you talked a little bit about eligibility. Must it also be due to service connected disabilities?
Nathan Guin: It does not. Sometimes it will, or there are different ways where you can get it through service connected disabilities and there are specific requirements for that, but you can also get it, like I said, through a pension type situation, where it doesn’t have to be through a service connected disability. It can be if you’re disabled due to other issues but you qualify otherwise essentially for the benefit.
So it doesn’t have to be service connected. There are a lot of different tracks you can kind of take with aid and attendance. For this we’ll kind of stay towards … The housebound is usually what you’ll see most of, but there’s any number of different things, including, like I said earlier, blindness or just kind of … Really it just covers the gamut. If you need help due to a disability, you can usually get some help for it.
Cindy Speaker: Okay. What requirements do you need to show in order to qualify for this and be entitled to these benefits?
Nathan Guin: If you’re legally blind, if you’re in a nursing home either for physical or mental health reasons, if you’re in need of somebody to help you bathe and feed yourself, prepare meals or protect you from just the internal hazards of daily life. If you need someone who’s constantly there or if you’re bedridden other than to seek treatment, or other than any other kind of prescribed activity you’re bedridden, you could be eligible for that as well.
And it could be a spouse, it could be a surviving spouse or the veteran. It doesn’t have to be the veteran themselves, or it could be for their spouse if they’re … You know, the veteran is still living as well. So there’s a couple different avenues … Like I said, there’s a lot of different avenues for aid and attendance, but that’s just a couple.
Cindy Speaker: Okay. Are there different kinds of aid and attendance?
Nathan Guin: Yeah. There’s a number of different kinds. Like I said, there’s some for blindness. There are others that cover different issues. The majority of what you see, or at least that we see, is for housebound individuals where they’re either … They’re confined to their home. They aren’t bedridden, but they can’t drive, they can’t drive and run errands, they have issues feeding themselves, bathing themselves, cooking, different things like that, so they’re in constant need of somebody to be there to help care for them.
That’s the most typical form that we see, but there are a wide range that you can get the benefit for, a wide range of disability circumstances.
Cindy Speaker: Okay. And how much of a benefit is it? What’s the monthly average?
Nathan Guin: Generally speaking, the last I checked was that a veteran by himself could get about $1,700 a month. A veteran with a spouse, it’s about 2,100, and for a surviving spouse it would be about 1,100, and a veteran with a sick spouse would be about 1,400. That’s the last numbers. Those change based on cost of living adjustments and different things that are set by Congress, so they can kind of … They vary year by year, but that’s generally the amount per month.
Cindy Speaker: My guess is that this is not … I mean aid and attendance, it’s not like we hear of that commonly. I imagine there’s a lot of veterans that are not even aware of these potential benefits. Is that true?
Nathan Guin: It’s one of the most under-utilized benefits I think that’s out there. A lot of people don’t know about it at all, or they’re told that it’s only for service connected disabilities, which is true in some respects, depending on how you’re applying for it.
But it doesn’t just apply to service connected issues. You could have a service connected disability, but maybe you’re totally disabled for another reason but you’re a veteran and you otherwise qualify for it, and you can still be entitled to the benefit. So that’s really the … It’s one of the most under-utilized benefits out there, so I definitely encourage people to do some research on their own and figure out if they think they’re entitled to it go ahead and file for that and see if you can get the benefits.
Cindy Speaker: Yeah. And is that something that you can help with?
Nathan Guin: We do. We can handle aid and attendance as well as other disability claims. Usually it’ll be kind of attached to another claim, either for service connection or for an increase or [inaudible 00:05:27]. But sometimes people apply for it by themselves.
Usually the best way to handle that before you apply is there’s a disability benefits questionnaire that you can get from the VA online for aid and attendance, for exams, and the best way to do that is to get your doctor to fill that out before you apply, so hopefully that kind of minimizes any kind of issues you might have or denials that you might have. So there is a form for it so that the doctors can kind of go down a checklist and have a little bit of guidance if you have a good relationship with your doctor and want to ask them about filling out a form like that.
Cindy Speaker: Okay. This is really helpful information.
Nathan Guin: I hope so. It goes through a lot of rabbit trails, but it’s definitely important.
Cindy Speaker: Yeah. No, it’s great. And if somebody wants to talk with you and maybe has specific questions, what’s the best way to reach your office?
Nathan Guin: The best way to reach us is either call us at 251-343-1111, or you can find us online at www.GardbergLaw.com. That’s G-A-R-D-B-E-R-G Law.com. You can email us from there and we can get in touch with you about a potential claim that you might have or a rating decision you have an issue. Like I said, I think we mentioned it earlier, is we can help you no matter where you are. Whether you’re in the United States or in the world, if it’s a claim with the VA we’re all accredited with the VA, so we can help any veteran that’s anywhere. As long as they have the claim with the Veterans Administration, we can definitely do that.
Cindy Speaker: Excellent. As always Nathan, thanks for your time today.
Nathan Guin: Thank you Cindy. I appreciate it.
Cindy Speaker: Those of you that are watching either live or by replay, if you have questions or comments you can reach out to us right on this page. We’ll get your questions answered. Or of course call the office. That’s even better, but not everybody wants to make a phone call, so if you don’t you can leave your questions right here. Thanks everybody. Have a great day.