Over the decades the VA aid and attendance form known as the 21-526 has undergone transformations.
For widowed surviving spouses this claim application is the VA 21-534 form.
Some have been improvements while others were nothing more than typical government bureaucratic blunders.
The biggest confusion among the VA aid and attendance form for veteran’s disability pension benefit claim is that the same VA 21-526 application is used for both the service related disability and the non-service connected disability claim.
This VA 21-526 claim application previously had a completely separate section (Section B) if someone was seeking service-related injury or disability compensation benefit claim.
VA Aid And Attendance Form – VA 21-526
If you were seeking a non-service connected pension benefit claim then Section B of the VA aid and attendance form would not be completed.
Yet, if you did not answer the question in Section D asking the critical aid and attendance question:
“Are you claiming a special monthly pension because you need the regular assistance of another person, are blind, nearly blind, or having severe
visual problems, or are housebound?”
If you did not answer this question then the VA would automatically process the 21-526 VA aid and attendance form application as a service related disability claim. Other parts of this claim application were equally confusing.
Happily, the VA changed and improved the VA aid and attendance form 21-526 for veterans. The revised VA aid and attendance form still is used for both service related and non-service connected claims, but the form has been shortened and made a bit easier to follow. The pitfalls however, remain plentiful for veterans and their family who attempt to follow the rules and properly complete the 21-526 VA aid and attendance form.
The biggest improvement to minimize confusion was the elimination of Part B and the incorporation of the required information into a short Part II. Previously Part B was multiple pages and this has now been shortened to about 1/2 of a page. The information is clearly labeled and identified as for service-related disability claims and only the required critical information is requested.
Everything on this 21-526 VA aid and attendance form is compacted and a separate section (Section VII) just for non-service connected disability claims is available. This does allow for more concise definition of the purpose of the claim application between service-related and non-service connected purposes.
Another improvement in the veteran’s 21-526 claim application is the additional space to list the qualified medical expenses used to adjust the claimant’s countable income. On the older form the VA aid and attendance form only provided 4 very small spaces at the end of the application.
The newer and revised 21-526 VA aid and attendance form claim application now has a larger and taller fields for these qualified medical expenses. This potentially removes the need for the Itemization of Medical Expenses form VA 21-8416. A much easier and straight forward approach for the applicant to document medical expenses and other qualified expenses such as home care and assisted living costs or nursing home costs.
The only shortfall of the new 21-526′s application VA aid and attendance form is under Section VIII for Income and Section IX for Net Worth. Instead of having separate fields for interest, dividends and other sources of income, including one-time lump sum payments. The Veterans Administration decided to lump these all together in one field on the new VA aid and attendance form. The confusion that is created is that many claimants receive a defined retirement pension check from the company from which they retired. The newer claim form does not allow ample space to input and identify this income source. The other deficiency on this newer VA aid and attendance from is the lack of a field specifically for other income sources the applicant may receive such as mandatory distributions from IRA’s.
VA Aid And Attendance Form – VA 21-534
The claim application for widowed surviving spouses is the VA 21-534 and it too is one application used for two separate benefits.
The VA 21-534 is used for applying for a service-related death claim and also for a non-service connected disability claim for a widowed spouse of a qualified veteran.
While this VA aid and attendance form was modified and shortened many years before the VA 21-526 for veterans, the improvements are not as pronounced.
Even if the widow’s claim application is marked for the non-service connected benefit, the Veterans Administration will process and deny for the service related claim.
It will, however then process the claim for the non-service connected benefit.
That makes the post application communication a bit confusing for the applicant.
The VA 21-534 form does provide only 4 fields for qualifying medical expenses to determine countable income, yet the fields are tall and large enough for someone to fill in the information on the newer VA aid and attendance form for widowed surviving spouses.
The nice aspects of the VA aid and attendance form 21-534 is that the fields for interests, dividend, other sources of income are ample and large enough in size to easily fill in the information.
The Aid and Attendance Handbook helps you understand and complete the VA aid and attendance form properly.
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