Veterans or survivors may be entitled to a higher rate of compensation or additional pension if they are considered housebound or if their disability requires the regular aid and attendance of another person. The requirements for qualifying for Housebound Benefits or Aid & Attendance are different depending on if you are a veteran receiving either Disability Compensation the Non-service-connected Pension; or if you are a survivor receiving either Dependency & Indemnity Compensation or the Death Pension. The differences between Disability Compensation and the Non-service-connected Pension are explained here. A Veteran or survivor may not receive Aid and Attendance benefits and Housebound benefits at the same time.
Housebound Benefits for Veterans:
There are two ways for a veteran to prove entitlement to Housebound benefits:
Under the first way, the veteran must have a single disability rated as total (100 percent) disabling and the disability must confine the veteran to their home and the immediate premises.
If the veteran is age 65 or older, they will be presumed to be permanently and totally disabled. This means that veterans age 65 and older do not need a single disability rated a 100 percent because that requirement is met due to their age. The veteran still must be substantially confined to the home and immediate premises.
Under the second way, the veteran does not have to be housebound. A veteran qualifies for Housebound benefits if:
- The veteran has a single disability rated as 100 percent disabling, and
- The veteran has additional rated disabilities that involve a different body system than the 100 percent disability and are rated at a combined rating of 60 percent or higher.
For example, if a veteran has a left-leg amputation rated as 60 percent disabling and posttraumatic stress disorder rated at 100 percent, he is entitled to Housebound benefits under the second method.
A few notes on 100% ratings: If a Veteran is entitled to Individual Unemployability, this satisfies the requirement for a single disability rated as 100 percent disabling for veterans receiving Compensation but NOT Veteran’s receiving the Non-service-connected Pension. Further, several separately rated disabilities cannot be combined to achieve a single 100% rating even if based on a single disease such as multiple sclerosis.
Housebound benefits for Survivors:
A survivor can establish entitlement to Housebound benefits if they are substantially confined to their house or immediate premises by reason of a disability and the disability is reasonably certain to remain throughout the survivor’s lifetime.
How does a veteran or survivor qualify for Aid & Attendance benefits?
Entitlement to Aid and Attendance can be established by showing the veteran or survivor requires the aid of another person in order to perform personal functions required in everyday living. Entitlement can be established if:
- The veteran or survivor is unable to: bathe themselves; get dressed or undressed; feed themselves; or attend to the wants of nature.
- The veteran or survivor needs frequent adjustments to prosthetic or orthopedic appliances.
- The veteran or survivor has a physical or mental disability that requires protection from the hazards of their daily environment.
- The veteran or survivor is bedridden, in that their disability or disabilities requires them to remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment.
- The veteran or survivor is a patient in a nursing home due to a mental or physical disability.
- The veteran or survivor’s eyesight is limited to a corrected 5/200 visual acuity or less in either eyes; or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.
The rules only require that the veteran or survivor establish a regular need for aid and attendance and not a constant need.
The rules concerning Aid and Attendance do not have a requirement that the veteran be rated as 100 % disabled as is required with Housebound benefits. In practice, however, the VA generally requires a single disability to be rated at 100% as a prerequisite for an award of Aid and Attendance although it is possible to be granted Aid and Attendance without a 100 percent rating.