Written By: Michelle Whitmer,
Last modified: April 29, 2021

What Are VA Aid and Attendance Benefits?

VA Aid and Attendance benefits provide monthly compensation to qualified veterans receiving VA pensions. Surviving spouses who have an illness or disability that requires another person to help them perform daily activities may also qualify. The monthly payments are provided in addition to the VA pension.

These benefits are available to veterans with mesothelioma receiving disability compensation. Veterans with mesothelioma may apply simultaneously for both disability compensation and Aid and Attendance, also known as Special Monthly Compensation. 

There are differences between Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits:
  • VA Aid and Attendance is available to veterans on a VA pension who need help with daily activities such as bathing, dressing and feeding, or veterans who have to stay in bed because of an illness. Veterans with limited eyesight also qualify for this benefit.
  • Housebound benefits are available to veterans on a VA pension who spend most of their time at home because of a permanent disability.

It is important to know that veterans cannot receive both Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits at the same time. 

The compensation provided through these benefits may be used to pay for a home health aide or nurse to help veterans who are homebound or who need assistance with daily activities.  

Veterans from all military branches are eligible to file a claim. Navy veterans were more frequently exposed to asbestos and file more mesothelioma claims.

If you need help understanding VA claims for mesothelioma or how to apply, an accredited claims agent can answer your questions and help with the application process. 

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VA Aid and Attendance Benefits Eligibility

Aid and Attendance benefits are available to veterans on a VA pension who meet certain eligibility criteria and their surviving spouses. For example, veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer or asbestosis who have limited mobility or ability to care for themselves may qualify for these benefits. 

A veteran on a VA pension must meet at least one of the following eligibility criteria:

  • Needs assistance from another person to do daily activities such as eating, bathing, toileting or dressing.
  • Spends a large amount of time in bed because of an illness. In certain cases, veterans with mesothelioma may meet this criterion and get approved for Aid and Attendance.
  • Is a patient in a nursing home because of a mental or physical incapacity.
  • Has eyesight that is severely limited, even with glasses or contact lenses.

A veteran, dependent spouse or surviving spouse receiving a VA pension may qualify for Housebound benefits if they spend most of their time at home because of a permanent disability. This may include a mesothelioma diagnosis or a chronic condition that limits their ability to leave the home. 

A mesothelioma diagnosis automatically grants veterans a 100% disability rating for disability compensation, which starts at more than $3,100 per month. 

Veterans with mesothelioma may apply at the same time for both disability compensation and Aid and Attendance. 

In addition to the disability claim, a veteran seeking Aid and Attendance must submit VA Form 21-2680 along with information filled out by their doctor describing their disability and their need for someone to help them with daily activities.

Can a Veteran’s Spouse Get Aid and Attendance Benefits?

A veteran’s dependent spouse or surviving spouse on a VA pension may qualify for Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits. When a veteran is still married and their spouse needs care, the spouse is considered a dependent spouse. 

Dependent or surviving spouses who meet the VA’s eligibility criteria qualify for this type of compensation. They will need to submit the proper forms and paperwork from their doctor proving their illness or permanent disability.

Filing for VA Aid and Attendance Benefits

The forms required for VA Aid and Attendance include:
  • VA Form 21-2680: This is the basic form for Aid and Attendance that must be submitted with every claim.
  • VA Form 21-0779: Those in nursing homes must also submit a Request for Nursing Home Information in Connection with Claim for Aid and Attendance, which is also known as VA Form 21-0779.

Once you have submitted the necessary forms and paperwork, the VA will review your application and make a decision. The VA says they process claims in the order they receive them, unless the claim requires priority processing.

In 2021, the VA will pay a maximum annual pension rate of $23,238 for Aid and Attendance, or $17,024 for Housebound benefits to veterans with no dependents. 

These amounts increase to $27,549 for veterans with at least one dependent spouse or child for Aid and Attendance, or $21,337 for Housebound benefits.

For surviving spouses with no dependents, the VA will pay a maximum annual pension rate of $14,934 for Aid and Attendance, or $11,420 for Housebound benefits. 

These amounts increase to $17,815 for spouses with at least one dependent for Aid and Attendance, or $14,300 for Housebound benefits. 

How Long Until I Get VA Aid and Attendance Benefits?

On average, it may take between three to six months for veterans or their spouses to receive Aid and Attendance benefits. The VA will expedite claims from veterans who are over 90 years of age or in hospice care.

Unlike other VA benefits such as disability compensation, disbursement of Aid and Attendance funds may depend on factors such as COVID-19 delays and how many other claims were filed ahead of your claim. This can impact whether veterans with mesothelioma will even receive the benefit in time to help if their disease progresses rapidly in its end stages. 

Even though veterans with mesothelioma may qualify for disability compensation immediately after their diagnosis, they are often still able to care for themselves and perform daily activities. Because of this, they do not meet the criteria for Aid and Attendance. 

It typically takes up to six months for the VA to review an application. By the time mesothelioma cancer progresses to the point that veterans are unable to care for themselves, it can be difficult to get Aid and Attendance approved in time to help. 

The VA can expedite applications for veterans in hospice care or those who are over age 90. 

Mesothelioma can progress rapidly near its end stages, which makes it difficult to get Aid and Attendance approved in time to help. This may even be the case for mesothelioma patients in hospice care.

Veterans with mesothelioma or their spouses who meet the eligibility criteria should file a claim for Aid and Attendance as soon as they begin to meet the qualifications. 

If you are in hospice care your claim may be expedited, which may help the compensation arrive in time to benefit your family.


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