How Genealogy Comes in Handy

Many family historians probably know the feeling of being looked at oddly by friends and relatives who do not understand the joy we have in finding an obscure relative’s grave or finally locating great-great grandpa on a passenger list, or third cousin John-twice removed -in a city directory. Nor do they understand our need to hold onto random birth, death and marriage certificates, naturalization papers or military discharge papers. “The past is the past,” they probably think to themselves.

Not necessarily, I learned today.  As I have written in previous posts, Dad was in the Army, drafted just one month prior to the Pearl Harbor attack.  He remained in the Army for the duration of the war.  He never was injured- or at least never collected any disability pay for any injuries.  Neither Dad nor my mother ever collected any miliary pensions. He was not elible, or so he thought.

My brother found a little known benefit, known as the  “Aid and Attendance and Housebound Improved Pension.”  This can help defray the cost of caregivers in the home, assisted living facilities, or nursing home expenses. The benefit is approximately $2000 for the veteran and $1100 for a survivor.  Check it out:

There is a lot of paperwork involved, and the process is evidentally quite slow.  The most difficult qualifying factor is the annual income of the recipient, which is under $13,000/year. However, ongoing medical costs and the cost of the caregivers can help to reduce the income to that level.  Assets must be less than $80,000, but one’s home or car is excluded from that $80,000 figure.

Where genealogy comes into play is that, among the many documents necessary to complete the application is the discharge papers of the recipient, and in the case of survivor benefits, the death certificate of the spouse and  the couple’s marriage certificate.

I am not the keeper of the financial records in the family, but my family history binder contains the death and marriage certificate along with my father’s discharge papers.

This hobby is not so laughable anymore!


About kjw616

I am a genealogy detective. I have already written one book about my Irish family's journey from 19th century Ireland to the United States- a family history sprinkled with personal anecdotes. My second book was intended to be a similar story about my Russian ancestors. Instead, it turned into a tale of just my father's immediate family. It is the tale of what happens when 6 children from New Jersey are moved to the Soviet Union by their Russian-born parents during the Great Depression. It details who lives, who dies, and who is able to return to NJ during a time when leaving the USSR was not an easy endeavor, particularly during World War II and the Cold War. It is my hope that those interested in history during this time period will find this story fascinating as well as those fellow amateur family historians who will learn some of the tools such as, visits to the National Archives, and local libraries I used to uncover this story.
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4 Responses to How Genealogy Comes in Handy

  1. jerry aagaard says:

    now this last post makes me think maybe I could get back some money for my daughter who is doing my laundry and cleaning the addition I live in,and possibly help pay for the addition they build for me to reside in. what do you think?

    • kjw616 says:

      I believe that to qualify for the “Aid and Attendance and Housebound Improved Pension Benefits.”, you have to have a particular net income, after ongoing medical costs are deducted. For a survivor, it was $8359 in December 2012. and for a vet it was $12,465. Then you need to have certain health problems. Here is what I read:

      “Veterans, spouses of veterans or surviving spouses can be eligible for Aid and Attendance benefits if they meet the following disability requirements:

      1. The aid of another person is needed in order to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, toileting, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting himself/herself from the hazards of his/her daily environment; or
      2. The claimant is bedridden, in that his/her disability or disabilities require that he/she remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment; or
      3. The claimant is in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity; or
      4. The claimant is blind, or so nearly blind as to have corrected visual acuity of 5/200 or less, in both eyes, or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.”

      I got this information from

      The other problem is that I was told by someone at the VA in NJ that the time from application to actually getting the money can take up to one year. So if you are patient and fit the criteria, then try it.

  2. Sheryl says:

    It sounds like your brother did some wonderful research. Best wishes that this moves quickly.

    • kjw616 says:

      Sheryl, check out my comment to Jerry. Further research into this benefit shows that it is a very slow process and your income level must be quite low.

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