Thanks to our brave soldiers, or “The Few,” we live in a country with many liberties and freedoms.
Why are they called “The Few”? Except for the American Revolutionary War and World War II, when more than 10 percent of the American population volunteered to serve, less than ½ percent of America’s total population annually enlists in the military. Today, about 1.5 million men and women are serving out of the total U.S. population of 321 million. There is no better day than Independence Day to thank the men and women who have served, or who are still serving, and those families who have lost so many to war.
There are about 11 million American soldiers of foreign wars still living, and many receive our thanks through veteran benefit programs that were created just for “The Few.” These programs help them advance their education; receive medical, health and disability care; and obtain loans. One of the lesser-known programs available to veterans who served during wartime periods since World War I is Aid and Attendance (A&A).
Similar to Medicaid benefits, A&A is a tax-free benefit available to wartime veterans and their spouses who cannot pay for medical needs that are not related to service. Although it is possible to be eligible for both A&A and Medicaid, most do not receive both. Unfortunately, 75 percent of those eligible for A&A never take advantage of it.
Beneficiaries must be at least 65 years old. They must be veterans who served on active duty in the military for at least 90 days during a period of war and have been honorably discharged. Veteran’s spouses and single surviving spouses of veterans are also eligible. Married veterans can receive up to $1,949 per month, single veterans up to $1,644 per month, and a veteran’s surviving spouse a maximum of $1,056. Though a beneficiary’s other income and benefits might reduce the amount of the pension, most people receive the maximum.
The following criteria are used by the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs to determine a veteran’s eligibility:
- Inability of claimant to dress or undress themselves, or to keep themselves ordinarily clean and presentable
- Frequent need of adjustment of any special prosthetic or orthopedic devices which by reason of the particular disability cannot be done without aid
- Inability of claimant to feed themselves through loss of coordination of upper extremities or through extreme weakness
- Inability to attend to the wants of nature
- Incapacity, physical or mental, which requires care or assistance on a regular basis to protect the claimant from hazards or dangers incident to their daily environment.
If you know a veteran or their spouse who requires assistance because they cannot pay for their immediate needs, inform them about A&A for veterans. An elder law and estate planning attorney can assist those who have not heard of it. And, be sure to thank “The Few” for their service on this Independence Day.