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A Guide to the VA Aid and Attendance Benefit

10 minute readLast updated January 2, 2024
fact checkedon January 2, 2024
Written by Kara Lewis
Reviewed by Rachel Levy, BSW, MPH, senior living expertRachel Levy, BSW, MPH, and a senior national account manager at A Place for Mom, has worked in senior care for more than 20 years.
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When it comes to paying for senior living, many older adults remain unaware of the options available. This rings especially true for one payment source: the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Aid and Attendance program. This benefit can cover thousands each year in a veteran’s senior living and caregiving expenses yet only an estimated quarter of eligible seniors apply.

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Key Takeaways

  1. Some veterans may qualify for VA Aid and Attendance. This can help veterans pay for senior living expenses.
  2. Specific eligibility requirements exist for VA Aid and Attendance. Financial, service, and clinical requirements typically apply.
  3. VA Housebound and VA Aid and Attendance are not the same thing. These programs exist for separate purposes.
  4. VA application processing may take time. It’s a good idea to plan ahead.

What is VA Aid and Attendance?

VA Aid and Attendance provides a substantial monthly payment on top of existing VA pensions for eligible veterans and surviving spouses. This supplemental income is added to the VA Pension or Survivors Pension to help cover the cost of long-term senior care.

What types of senior care does the VA Aid and Attendance benefit cover?

Older veterans or their surviving spouses who can no longer manage their care independently can use VA Aid and Attendance benefits to help cover the cost of assisted livingmemory care, a nursing home, or in-home care services.

Any senior living community can help a veteran or their surviving spouse so long as that community provides 24-hour staffing and the veteran requires assistance with at least two of the six activities of daily living (ADLs) allowed by the VA, explains Suzette Graham, founder and CEO of Patriot Angels, a trusted partner of A Place for Mom

Who is eligible for VA Aid and Attendance?

A veteran needs to meet specific care requirements, such as needing someone to help them with activities of daily living. Secondly, to receive a VA Aid and Attendance benefit, you or your senior loved one must first be receiving the basic VA pension.[01]

To qualify for the basic VA pension, veterans must meet all of the following requirements:[02]

  • They must not have been dishonorably discharged.
  • They must have served on active duty before Sept. 8, 1980, for at least 90 days, with at least one day during wartime, or served on active duty after Sept. 7, 1980, for 24 months, with at least one day during wartime.
  • They must be at least 65, have a permanent disability, live in a nursing home due to a disability, or receive Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income.

Service requirements

The VA considers the following as wartime periods:[02]

ConflictEligible dates
Mexican Border periodMay 9, 1916 – April 5, 1917
World War IApril 6, 1917 – November 11, 1918
World War IIDecember 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946
Korean conflictJune 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955
Vietnam War Era

February 28, 1961 – May 1975 for veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam; August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975 for other veterans
Gulf WarAugust 2, 1990 – future date to be determined by law or a presidential order

Financial Requirements

To qualify for VA benefits, the veteran’s net worth must fall below $155,356. This limit set by Congress lasts until November 30, 2024, and the limit may change annually.[03]

Your loved one’s net worth generally includes the following:

  • Annual income, including salary, bonuses, commissions, tips, Social Security benefits, retirement payments, and any income a spouse or dependents may receive.
  • Assets, including personal property like land and investments, but excluding your loved one’s primary residence, basic home items, eligible care, and vehicle (not counted as an asset).[03]

Clinical Requirements

In addition to these VA pension requirements, a veteran’s situation must fit one of the following descriptions to be eligible for the additional Veterans Aid and Attendance benefit:

  • The veteran needs a caregiver to assist with activities of daily living (ADLs), like dressing, showering, or toileting.
  • The veteran is bedridden as the result of an illness.
  • The veteran lives in a nursing home due to a physical or cognitive disability.
  • The veteran’s vision is 5/200 or less in both eyes or the veteran has a visual field of 5 degrees or fewer.[01]

How are VA benefits for senior care paid?

A VA pension with an upgrade of Aid and Attendance is most commonly awarded through direct deposit to the veteran or survivor’s bank account, says Graham. There are credit unions and veteran-friendly banks for any person who doesn’t have a bank account but wishes to receive their payment through direct deposit.

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How do veterans apply to the VA Aid and Attendance program?

Veterans can apply through the VA. There are many ways to reach out to the VA for assistance, including the following:

For those who prefer to reach out via telephone, the following hotlines can provide assistance:

  • MyVA411 at 1-800-698-2411
  • VA benefits hotline at 1-800-827-1000

If you are a veteran or family member who utilizes TTY, please dial 711 for further assistance.

Where can I find help?

While veterans and their families can complete a successful application on their own, sometimes extra support can be helpful.

Veterans’ organizations like the VFW, American Legion, and Disabled American Veterans (DAV), which have local posts and chapters in most cities, provide assistance filling out Aid and Attendance forms for no cost. Elder law attorneys can also assist veterans and their families with their application.

Seniors can also receive expert advice from A Place for Mom’s trusted, VA-accredited partner Patriot Angels (1-833-879-6017).

Note: A Place for Mom may be compensated if you choose to use Patriot Angels’ services.

For help with navigating senior care, older adults and their families can reach out to A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Advisors. These thoughtful experts can help you understand care options available in your area and set up community tours – all at no cost to you and your family.

When do veterans find out if they qualify for VA Aid and Attendance?

Processing time varies. It’s difficult to identify a timeframe of when an approval may be received. Claims are typically processed in the order that they are received. However, some veterans may qualify for priority processing under specific conditions determined by the VA.

What are VA Housebound benefits?

VA Housebound benefits are designed to help permanently disabled veterans receive care while they’re confined to their homes. Similar to VA Aid and Attendance benefits, the veteran must first meet eligibility requirements and be receiving a VA pension or Survivors Pension to qualify for Housebound benefits.[01]

Veterans may be eligible for housebound benefits if they receive a monthly VA pension; have a permanent, service-related disability; and spend nearly all their time at home for health reasons. However, veterans can’t receive this benefit and Aid and Attendance at the same time.[01]

A VA pension with an upgrade of the Housebound benefit can be difficult to receive, says Graham. However, this shouldn’t stop someone from applying. The VA Housebound benefit money can be used at the veteran’s discretion once they qualify and is a great option for any veteran seeking care from the comfort of their own home.

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Where can I find a VA Benefits and Long-Term Care Guide?

The VA Aid and Attendance program helps with senior living and in-home care affordability — making daily assistance more attainable for many veterans and their families. For more information, download our VA Benefits and Long-Term Care: Guide to Aid & Attendance e-book.

Note: This article is for informational purposes only. A Place for Mom doesn’t provide legal advice for benefits applications. For professional legal advice, please consult with an elder law attorney or VA-accredited claims representative of your choice. Additionally, VA eligibility requirements may change over time.


  1. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, October 12). VA aid and attendance benefits and housebound allowance.

  2. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2023, November 8). Eligibility for veterans pension.

  3. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2023, November 20). 2024 VA pension rates for veterans

Meet the Author
Kara Lewis

Kara Lewis is a former copywriter at A Place for Mom, where she wrote dozens of articles related to senior living, with a special focus on veterans, mental health, and how to pay for care. Before covering senior living, she worked in journalism, media, and editing at publications. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Reviewed by

Rachel Levy, BSW, MPH, senior living expert

The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal or financial advice or create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom and the reader. Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter, and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site. Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not endorse the contents of the third-party sites.

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