It is clear that divorced spouses of veterans cannot receive surviving spouse benefits from Aid and Attendance, but some people may be unsure about the rules regarding spouses who were only legally separated from the veteran at the time the veteran passed away. For legally separated spouses, the rules are identical to the rules for divorced spouses – legally separated spouses cannot receive surviving spouse benefits.
However, the rules become more complicated for veterans who are legally separated from their spouse. Often, veterans who are legally separated will not want the VA to consider their spouse’s assets when they are applying for VA benefits. Not only is the veteran no longer living with their spouse, but their spouse will almost always be reluctant to spend down his or her assets to help the veteran receive Aid and Attendance. In order to ensure that the VA will not consider their spouse’s assets on the application, the veteran must confirm in writing that they are separated and that he and his wife are financially independent from each other. This usually requires proof that the veteran and his spouse do not file a joint tax return and do not contribute to each other’s monthly expenses. This statement, along with all proof of separation and financial independence, can be placed in the “remarks” section of the VA application.
It is important to consult with an accredited attorney to make sure that you or your loved one takes the necessary steps to ensure that the VA does not consider a separated spouse’s income and assets when reviewing an Aid and Attendance application.