There is a benefit from the VA for a veteran with a sick spouse. It is however, not the aid and attendance benefit.
The aid and attendance benefit is not really a benefit in and of itself. It is rather an entitlement attached with the non-service connected disability pension benefit. If you, the veteran, are housebound and have a medical condition that requires the assistance of another individual, you may meet the criteria for the aid and attendance entitlement to the VA disability pension benefit. Remember, the disability pension benefit is for non-service connected disabilities. Whereas the disability compensation benefit is for service-related disabilities.
But, what if the wartime veteran is otherwise healthy but their spouse is suffering from long-term disabilities? Normally, the spouse is only entitled to receive a benefit from the VA only if the spouse who was the veteran is deceased.
Is There No Help For A Veteran With A Sick Spouse?
The good news is that there is, but not under the aid and attendance program. Here is what needs to occur for the veteran with a sick spouse to receive a benefit from the VA under the non-service connected disability pension benefit.
First, the qualification for a veteran with a sick spouse follows similar rules as for a sick veteran:
- The veteran must have served at least 90 days of active duty with just 1 of those days during an officially stated period of war. (Note: this rule was extended to 2 years or the entire period called to active duty effective 9/7/1980)
- The veteran must have been discharged from service with other than dishonorable status.
- The veteran must be over 65 (or age 65). (Note: The alternatives is that the veteran be permanently disabled. But then you would file for aid and attendance for yourself)
Next, the financial requirements must be met. As the maximum benefit allowed for a veteran with a sick spouse is on $1,290 per month versus $1,949 per month for a disabled veteran it may knock a number of people from eligibility. Let’s take a look at the two financial qualification criteria:
- The liquid assets or net worth of the household needs to be limited or “not excessive”. Okay, what exactly does that mean and how does a government agency determine that definition? While the VA officially claims there is no established amount, the VA has historically floated around the $70,000 to $80,000 range as being “excessive”. (Note: Liquid assets or net worth does not count the primary home in this total. It does count stocks, bonds and vacation homes.)
- The “countable” household income needs to be below the maximum benefit level. In the case of a veteran with a sick spouse that amount is $15,493 per year. Here is where most people get turned away. The VA is looking at “countable” income which means they will subtract or adjust your income based upon qualified medical expenses.
For a veteran with a sick spouse claim the “countable” income calculation is similar to the aid and attendance program.
Veteran With A Sick Spouse Countable Income Calculation
- Take total household income from all sources. This includes Social Security, any retirement pay, interest, dividends, mandatory IRA distributions and any other source of income for the veteran, spouse and any dependent. Now, if an adult child lives with you or you live with that child you do not have to count any income from that child unless he/she is dependent financially upon you.
- Total the qualified medical and care expenses. This includes supplemental health insurance premiums, doctor and dentist co-payments and costs not covered or paid by insurance, cost of oxygen, diabetic or incontinence products (if any), plus cost of any home care services or assisted living facility costs. You cannot deduct the cost of independent living rent.
- Subtract from the total household income the total amount of the qualified medical and care expenses.
- The difference is the total “countable” household income.
To determine how much veteran with a sick spouse benefit you can receive is established by comparing the “countable” income to the maximum benefit for a veteran with a sick spouse, which is $15,493 per year.
If the “countable” household income is negative then you qualify for the entire benefit payable in equal payments of $1,290 per month.
If the “countable” income is a positive number, then subtract this number from the $15,493 and this will be the total benefit you are entitled to receive. Divide this total by 12 months to determine how much the VA will send you each month.
Here are the 2011 maximum VA non-service connected disability pension benefit amounts:
Disabled Veteran With A Spouse – $23,396
Disabled Veteran Without A Spouse – $19,736
Widowed Spouse (un-remarried) – $
Veteran With A Sick Spouse – $15,493