The false expectation occurs when some individual who is not very knowledgeable about VA benefits learns that a prospect new resident in a residential care facility (assisted or independent living) is receiving a "pension" from the VA and then suggest they can receive "aid and attendance" as well! Of course, by "aid and attendance" they are not referring to the additional special monthly benefit of aid and attendance that can be added to pension but the total amount of pension plus aid attendance as a total benefit.
Confused? Sorry about that! Let me explain.
Aid and attendance (38 C.F.R. 3.351 and 3.352) is a special benefit that can be added to either Service Connected Compensation or Non-Service Connected Pension if there is a medical deficit (disability) either physical or mental that requires the regular assistance of another person to safely undertake basic everyday activities. Roughly speaking, if someone is qualified for aid and attendance, the VA will add between $423.00 and $705.00 to the basic Compensation or Pension benefit. So, the best way to conceptualize aid and attendance is simply an additional amount of money that can be added to Compensation or Pension if the claimant is considered "totally disabled" (i.e. unable to hold substantially gainful employment) and has the need for regular help with their basic daily tasks.
Mathematically, it looks like this:
Maximum amount of Basic Pension for a Married Veteran = $1,380.00
Demonstrated Need for Aid and Attendance Can Add An Extra = $705.00
The Total Possible Maximum Special Rate Pension Benefit = $2,085.00
So, the Pension is increased by $705.00 per month if the "aid and attendance" of another person is proven, not By $2,085.00!
Here's an example from a case that occurred yesterday. The claimant (in this case an un-remarried surviving spouse of a veteran) was already receiving $389.00 in basic Death Pension benefits. The assisted living administrator told her she would be eligible for $1,130.00 in "aid and attendance." In reality, $1,130.00 is the maximum amount payable for basic rate Death Pension ($707.00) plus the special aid and attendance benefit which can add up to $423.00 per month in benefits. In this case the administrator though she would get an additional $1,130.00 in "aid and attendance" on top of the $389.00 received for Pension. Not true! The new resident could receive an increase of $741.00 per month which would bring the total benefit up to the maximum Pension plus aid and attendance rate of $1,130.00.
What a let-down for the poor lady! Knowing how the benefits work can certainly help avoid false expectations and disappointment.
If you have any questions about your case, just give us a call.