Deserving veterans can go decades without the aid they’ve earned.

Substantial benefits available to Veterans, their spouses and widows often go by the wayside due to unfamiliarity. Tax-free aid may be available in addition to their pension, and is designed to cover the expenses of daily living for those who were active duty-only during a declared war. Qualified and knowledgeable retirement professionals can facilitate and even expedite the application process. Watch the interview with JR Witt.

Much has been made about United States Veterans not getting all the benefits they so richly deserve for their service. But what many don’t realize is that spouses and widows can also qualify, yet rarely take advantage of certain benefits that stay under the radar.

One such benefit is the Aid and Attendance benefit, which can provide up to $22,000 annually as a tax-free pension addition to the qualifying Veteran. Spouses or widows who qualify are eligible for up to $14,000 annually, and couples nearly $25,000. This benefit is for applicants who require the assistance of another person, in the home or external facility, to eat, bathe, dress or receive medication, often known as the activities of daily living.

Low utilization of the A&A benefit is attributed to a lack of awareness. Knowledgeable retirement planning specialists who have successfully obtained it for Veterans estimate that 90% of Veterans are initially unaware of its existence.

Misperceptions also play a role. Veterans need not have been injured in a war; they only need to have been on active duty during a declared war. And while there’s a means test of income and assets commonly referred to as IVAP (income for VA purposes), many applicants don’t realize the extent to which current medical expenses can reduce the qualifying financial threshold. Applicants must be at least age 65, and complete customary forms.

Sadly, Veterans can experience decades of retirement and reach their 80s or 90s before ever applying, again due to unawares. Further, spouses are also uninformed, and the years following a Veteran’s passing can put a widow otherwise deserving of benefits even further out of reach. Unfamiliarity even stretches to advocacy groups.

Applicants of any type and/or caregivers may find the process onerous, but help is available through an experienced retirement planning specialist, or online at or by searching at

Syndicated financial columnist Steve Savant interviews top retirement specialists in their field of expertise. This segment features retirement specialist J.R. Witt. Right on the Money is a financial talk show distributed in daily video press releases to over 280 media outlets and social media networks.