Eugene Bishop served in the Army in World War II, earning the Combat Infantryman Badge for confronting enemy fire. In 1991, Bishop (not pictured) suffered a stroke, and recently, the 85-year-old took a bad fall that left him needing a walker. But the widower still has fight left in him. He and his daughter, Linda Schaffer, made repeated attempts to apply for the veterans' Aid and Attendance benefit -- and like good soldiers, they refused to give up.

Aid and Attendance provides nearly $2,000 a month for a qualified veteran or surviving spouse who needs help with everyday activities. But just one-third of elderly veterans are receiving their full health care benefits, according to the government. Aid and Attendance is among the most overlooked benefits offered, in part because the required disability does not necessarily have to be tied to combat injuries.

It's apparently one of the toughest supplements to secure as well.

"We'd send in sets of forms 10 pages long, then they'd send me back another set," Schaffer told DailyFinance. "I had to do that three or four times."

A frustrated Schaffer eventually contacted the office of Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) Presto, the Aid and Attendance benefit was finally approved, eight months after Bishop first applied. Prior to that, he was earning $2,700 a month in pension but was paying $3,000 a month to live at the Sunrise of Frederick (Md.) assisted living center. "It's really helped because I was going in the hole every month," he said.

Well Worth the Hassle

Former servicemen or their spouses who think they qualify will need a shoebox full of documentation: discharge/separation papers, a Social Security award letter, verification of net worth (which is not supposed to exceed $80,000, excluding home and car), and proof of income. Click here for details of the eligibility standards.

Gathering all that paperwork is worth the hassle. But first veterans have to know that Aid and Attendance even exists. As more World War II, Korean War and even Vietnam veterans age to the point where they can no longer pursue the Aid and Attendance benefit on their own, retirement facilities are spearheading awareness-raising campaigns. Sunrise Senior Living has 5,000 veterans spread through its more than 300 communities.

"Since the Aid and Attendance benefit is so significant, families we work with are almost always grateful in the end," said Kelly Myers, the senior vice president for sales at Sunrise.

The Department of Veterans Affairs told DailyFinance it had no estimate for how many veterans are eligible for Aid and Attendance, but it did encourage candidates -- or their caregivers -- to be thorough when applying. And if it takes a plea to an elected official to hurry things up, go right ahead.

"While Congressional inquiries may help to resolve difficult situations, our experience is that many delays can be avoided by filing a complete claim or by seeking the assistance of a VA-accredited representative in preparing the claim," a Veterans Affairs spokesperson wrote in an email.

But VeteranAid.org, a veterans advocacy website that promotes Aid and Attendance while trying to simplify the process, warns applicants that some VA employees might give the wrong information, so choose carefully.

To get the ball rolling, veterans can download this application. Surviving spouses should download this one. The forms will most likely go to the local VA branch.

Patience paid off for Bishop. He now receives $1,600 a month in Aid and Attendance, and has someone help him bathe and put on his socks. The financial reinforcements left him with one less battle to worry about.

"It really helps," he said.

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135 Comments

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albert

How can a LIFE INSURANCE CO. like MASS MUTAL issue checks to an AGENT who had had his lisence revoked in JEFFERSON CITY, MISSOURI, for stealing?
Albert Kandel

January 03 2013 at 10:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tvfields@oh.rr.com

I have asked LAWMAKERS to sponsor LEGISLATION which would address the fact that many VETERANS are not aware of the HEALTH CARE BENEFITS to which they are entitled. Such legislation would REQUIRE INSURERS to ask a few questions at the time insurance is applied for or renewed and then, based upon the answers to these questions, make veterans aware of their benefits. FOR EXAMPLE, such legislation would REQUIRE AN INSURER to ask an applicant if he ever served on active duty. If the applicant answers yes, then the insurer would next ask additional questions which need to be asked to determine what health care benefit the veteran might qualify for. Insurers would be required to provide applicants records noting the questions which were asked and the answers given, Whenever an insurer does not correctly advise a veteran, the veteran would be entitled to collect from the insurer needlessly paid for insurance and services. SUCH A LEGAL REFORM WOULD BENEFIT NOT ONLY VETERANS BUT ALSO THEIR EMPLOYERS, who could end up saving some of the $$$ that they currently pay insurers to provide a benefit to their employees. Unfortunately, lawmakers have not responded to this suggestion, much as they have ignored my calls for other legal reforms, including ones needed to reliably prevent individuals suffering debilitating infirmities from being financially exploited at the time they execute wills, deeds, trusts, POAs and other important legal/financial documents -- and also prevent the ruinous litigation which often results under such circumstances. In conclusion, I hereby ask other veterans to write me to learn more about practical safeguards which we are being denied by our elected and appointed officials.

December 05 2011 at 10:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gflem

Please read Sid Kirchheimer's article, in the AARP Bulletin, entitled Taking Aim at Old Soldiers.
This describes how life insurance agents are taking advantage of the elderly to sell annuities.
see

http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-09-2010/taking_aim_at_old_soldiers_.html

and
http://gilbertfleming.com/should-a-life-insurance-agent-with-a-whopping-two-days-of-training-be-allowed-to-perform-a-%E2%80E2%80%9D-of-elderly-veterans-investments/

and

November 15 2011 at 8:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ruthed1027

WOW WHat a benefit. my husband is a veteran and he is struggling after a stroke and went blind and sure could use some extra help. ruthed 1027Aol.com

November 15 2011 at 4:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Vietnam Vet 68-72

I was reading the comments here and it occurred to me that deadbeat welfare mothers who spend the money (that's supposed to be for their kids) on booze and drugs instead, get their benefits almost immediately! Something is very, very wrong at the VA. A massive FBI investigation of the VA has to be undertaken--we'll then see the cockroaches running for cover when the lights are flicked on.

November 15 2011 at 4:49 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Vietnam Vet 68-72's comment
ilm9p

"Deadbeat welfare mothers" - you hit the nail on the head there. That filth is ultimately what's wrong with our society. These dirty animals sit around all day in free housing, with free cable, free utilities, free food, free healthcare, free lunch for their spawn, free after school care, free everything!

November 15 2011 at 7:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Vietnam Vet 68-72

"60 Minutes" did an expose on the VA called "Delay, Deny, Hope You Die". The VA is totally corrupt. They have a culture of denial that is so ingrained that they deny having a culture of denial. The problem is that it is virtually impossible to fire Federal workers (more Federal workers die on the job than are fired). I applied for a partial disability 20 years ago and finally had to get lawyers--and the stinking VA is even giving them the run-around. Here's a bit of advice--forget "Inquiries", the VA just fobs those off, you have to start a "Congressional Investigation", then the VA will snap to in a hurry because they're crooks and they don't want to get caught. The motto of the VA should be "Use 'em, abuse 'em and lose 'em". The VA is committing treason.

November 15 2011 at 4:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jshi3

Hi I'm a ww2 navy vet, spent right at two years over sea's, with no service connected problems, just wake up each
morning and thank the Good Lord for another day!! jim

November 14 2011 at 4:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
vennylj

I have being a disable vet. for about 25 yrs. When I was first diagnose with my condition in the Pineville,La. VA hospital the VA rep. came to me and said I was eligible for disability; then three days later he came back and said I wasn't eligible. It was about eigth years later when I came back home to Virginia where I found myself in the VA hospital in Hampton,Va. when a VA rep. came and asked me would I like to put in a claim for my condition, and I told him I was told by the VA rep. in La. that I wasn't eligible,and he asked me did the rep. sit down and fill out a claim in front of me and I said no. He said that the VA rep. in La. lied to me. He said he was suppose to fill out a claim in front of me and submit it to the regional office. To make a long story short he filled out the claim in front of me and submitted to the regional office in Roanoke,Va. About three months later I got a letter from the regional office saying they had rated me at 10% and five years later I was increased to 100%. But in between the time of being rated from10% to 100% I suffered a lot of setbacks from losing jobs, being rejected by family, homelessness, being arrested and beat up by deputies in jail and put in numerous hospitals( one state hospital had me on 3x the dose of medication that the VA. prescribed to me. They did all of this because I said I was one with our LORD&SAVIOUR CHRIST JESUS. I guess the point I am trying to make is don't let these people rob you of the benifits you are entitle to because of there lies; stand up for what's True and Right, and always hold on to your FAITH IN OUR LORD CHRIST JESUS;A-MEN!!!

P.S.{I AM AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN, the VA rep in La. was white and the rep. in Va. was black, now you all do the math!!!! PEACE.........VLJCAVA4-EVER!!!!!

November 14 2011 at 4:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cegamclane

My father was a WW1 Vet, my brothers were WW2 and Korea, yet I as a 35 year member of the reserve components do not qualify as a Veteran.
How sad it is that when we live in the greatest nation in the world and the government causes its veterans to have to search for the benefits they have earned by their service and sacrifice. Our Veterans Administration was established to care for these people, yet they sometimes cause them to search out and fight for the Veterans rights and benefits as if they don't deserve them. Thank God for the people and organizations that work and fight
for these benefits.

November 14 2011 at 2:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gepenguin

Been trying to get my mother help since 10/2009.One person told me they have everything they need to make decision. Every time I call I get a different reason..".in process","being rated","in development"...etc. Each time I am told in 5 business days someone will contact me. Hasn't happened yet. I think they are waiting ofr her to die,which she probably will soon due to needing medical attention.

November 14 2011 at 2:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gepenguin's comment
Mike

Call your Congressman. They have folks in their offices who are directly tied into the VA and can help you get the help you need and if that doesn't work call your local American Legion or VFW Post who usually has folks who help Vets get the benefits they deserve. If all that fails, e-mail me and I'll help you. miker77506@aol.com

November 14 2011 at 3:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mike's comment
ehunsin629

Your answer is great. i am so glad to see people who have greeat knowledge and share it with orthers.My wife and i just hope this spreads. the bottom line is we want the veteran to get what he deserves. The VA has a lot of faults but they can be solved if pursued. PLease keep trying if you feel that you are right. They can't eat you

Ed Hunsinger

November 15 2011 at 8:58 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down