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Activities of Daily Living: What are They?

What are the Activities of Daily Living?

If you or your loved one struggles to perform daily actions because of a disability as you age, you may want to know how veterans can receive aid to live a comfortable life or retirement.

But as you dive in, you deal with many terms — some used interchangeably. 

One of the phrases you’ll see, especially when researching Aid and Attendance or veteran benefits, is Activities of Daily Living (ADL). 

In this article, we’ll define those activities, why they matter for eligibility, and how you can learn if you qualify for aid as someone with disabilities.

What are Activities of Daily Living?
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The VA considers Activities of Daily Living as the main activities needed to live a safe and healthy life. Without these activities, veterans face significant health and safety risks. 

The VA determines these activities, and they serve as a reference as to whether a veteran or their spouse may be eligible for Aid and Attendance. 

Why Activities of Daily Living Matter for Veteran Aid

If you need financial help to provide health and living support because of a disability, you must identify struggles with Activities of Daily Living for Aid and Attendance eligibility.

Activities of Daily Living clarify disabilities and health limitations that impede your ability to live a safe and comfortable life. 

Once veterans are classified as having ADL issues, they are one step closer to receiving the necessary health aid. 

Aid and Attendance Summary 

The Aid and Attendance benefit is an add-on to the basic pension plan for veterans, specifically designed to address medical expenses. 

Veterans apply for a medical rating that can qualify a claimant for an additional tax-free payment intended to help with medical expenses for senior citizens and veterans with severe disabilities.

The add-on benefit allows veterans to deduct their medical expenses to adjust their income level to put them in the right financial bracket for benefits. 

It’s possible to receive $1,432 to $3,536 per month (as of 2023; updated annually).

List of Activities of Daily Living 

There are five recognized ADLs by the Veterans Administration.

1. Eating

Veterans that need assistance to eat. 

For example, if you or your veteran loved one needs their food cut up into pieces or pureed. There are also considerations if the person can’t get the nutrition they need because of a medical issue. 

2. Transferring

Veterans and their ability to move around.

A veteran may need assistance moving around their home, out of bed, to a car, and other activities necessary to function. 

3. Toileting

Veterans who need assistance with hygiene for using the restroom.

Whether it’s assistance getting up and down on the toilet or loss of control of bodily functions, this can count towards primary daily activities.

4. Bathing

Veterans that need assistance bathing to maintain necessary hygiene. 

Veterans may need help getting in and out of the shower or tub, bathing themselves, or standby assistance.

Fall risks are considered since the restroom can be a dangerous place and activity for a veteran with a disability. 

5. Dressing

Veterans that cannot put clothes on themselves. 

Veterans may have trouble putting on a t-shirt, buttoning down their shirt, or putting on their socks and other activities. These are deemed essential and could count toward Assisted Daily Living.

These are the VA-recognized Activities of Daily Living. If you know you have disabilities that affect these areas or aren’t sure, contact us for a complete walkthrough.

What are Instrumental Activities of Daily Living?

Some veterans need help preparing meals, shopping, transportation, and other important daily activities. 

While these are important, they are not considered primary Activities of Daily Living. Instead, these are called IADL or Instrumental Activities of Dailing Living. 

IADL does not make someone eligible for Aid and Attendance. 

Do I Qualify for Aid and Attendance?

Based on our experience, a veteran or a spouse needs to have at least two Activities of Daily Living identified for assistance. 

Once they do, their income determines how much aid they receive with Aid and Attendance. With each dollar spent for their qualified disability, it is deducted from their countable income. 

Once determined that they require assistance with ADLs, they can use eligible medical expenses to negate income to help reach eligibility for monetary aid.

Along with ADL and financial qualifications, the veteran needs one of the following military service requirements:

  • You’ve served up to 90 days total of active duty (and one day during a period of war)
  • You have received a discharge other than dishonorable
  • Active duty is not required, and you can combine different service periods to meet your 90-day parameters.

Recognized war periods:

  • World War II: December 7, 1941-December 31, 1946
  • Korean Conflict: June 27, 1950-January 31, 1955
  • Vietnam Era: August 5, 1964-May 7, 1975; for those who served in the Republic of Vietnam, dates are November 1, 1955-May 7, 1975
  • Gulf War: August 2, 1990-TBD (*Veterans need to have served at least 24 months or completed their assignment)

Your Next Step

If you’ve identified obstacles with Activities of Daily Living in your life or a loved one’s, you should begin your journey for Aid and Attendance. 

The process for aid can be complex and lengthy on your own. Unfortunately, we see common mistakes that stall the process or prevent someone from receiving the assistance they deserve. 

That’s why we recommend partnering with us, United Veterans Assistance, to help you get the aid entitled to you if eligible. We walk you through the entire process and help maximize your benefits. 

When you contact us, we will discuss your eligibility. If we believe you may be entitled to aid, we begin your process with our team and VA-accredited attorney. Call us to get started as soon as possible.


*United Veterans Assistance is a private company and is not affiliated with, or recognized by the Veterans Administration or any government organization. Only the VA can determine who is eligible for Veterans Pension.

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