Aid and Attendance is a pension program available to honorably discharged veterans who served on active duty for at least 90 days, with at least one day during a designated time of conflict or war. Veterans who meet those standards, or their surviving spouses, may be entitled to an extra monthly pension depending on their medical needs and overall resources, among other things.

Over the past years, the rules around this military pension have largely gone unchanged and are fairly lenient. But since 2012, Congress has been discussing implementing changes to protect the program from abuse that could erode its availability to those who are deservingly eligible. For example, under the present guidelines, a veteran with $500,000 in the bank could still qualify for the pension simply by transferring that money into a trust or to a family member.

Congress is proposing to make the Aid and Attendance pension program rules more like that of Medicaid, by implementing a three-year look-back period (Medicaid currently has a five-year look-back period). Any asset transfers within the look-back period prior to submitting the benefits application would carry with it strict penalties and could disqualify the veteran or his or her surviving spouse from receiving those benefits. Also, lawmakers are also considering setting net-worth limits that are more in line with Medicaid’s Community Spouse Resource Allowance (around $119,000 in total assets, not including a vehicle and primary residence). If Congress decides to move forward with these proposed changes, eligible veterans, and their surviving spouses could face a more difficult challenge trying to qualify. Those benefits could mean anywhere from $600 to about $1200 in additional monthly income, which may be the thing that enables someone to get the medical help that they need.