ARE YOU OR YOUR SPOUSE A VETERAN?
If you or your spouse are a Veteran and meet certain qualifications described below, you may be eligible to receive Veterans benefits that can be used to pay for nursing home care or caretakers assisting you in your own home. You may be able to apply for these benefits on your own, or perhaps with the help of a service organization such as the American Legion BUT if your assets are above $80,000, it’s best to talk to an attorney experienced in elder law and veterans benefits. With the right estate and financial planning, you may qualify for aid and attendance benefits under the VA guidelines. However, if such planning is not done properly, you could encounter unnecessary delays, difficulties, or miss opportunities to maximize your benefit potential and receive benefits more quickly. If you’d like to talk to one of our attorneys about Elder Law & VA Planning, please call us at (502) 423-7023.
AM I OR MY SPOUSE ELIGIBLE FOR VETERAN BENEFITS?
In recognition of a your service to the nation, the United States provides financial assistance to wartime veterans in need of long-term care, at home care or nursing home care. This benefit program – known as the Aid and Attendance Benefit – also extends financial benefits to spouses, widows and widowers of a Veteran. Many people may not even realize they are entitled to an Aid and Attendance Benefit. However, as a Veteran or spouse of a Veteran, you have earned this benefit by your war-time service to our nation.
Veterans’ benefits can help offset the cost of an assisted living facility or nursing home. These important financial benefits often are overlooked by family members who may be struggling to afford the cost of placing their loved one in an assisted care home. You should also know that most care facilities are happy to work with families when they know the resident will qualify for A&A.
WHAT DO VETERANS BENEFITS PAY?
If you qualify for aid and attendance benefits, these benefits can help cover costs for care at home or in an assisted living facility. VA Aid and Attendance Pension Payments have increased 1.5% for 2014. The new VA Aid and Attendance pension rates are:
Single Veteran: $1,759.00 per month, $21,108 annually
Married Veteran: $2,085.00 per month, $25,020 annually
Surviving Spouse of a Veteran: $1,130 per month, $13,560 annually
To qualify, a veteran need not have suffered a service-related injury.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
To be eligible for benefits, a veteran, spouse, widow, or widower must meet certain eligibility requirements.
First, the veteran must have served at least 90 days active duty, including at least one day during a wartime period. The veteran need not have served in a combat zone, as long as the service occurred during a recognized wartime period:
- WWII 12-7-1941 to 12-31-1946
- Korean War 6-27-1950 to 1-31-1955
- Vietnam War 2-28-1961 to 5-7-1975
- Vietnam Era 8-5-1964 to 5-7-1975
- Persian Gulf 8-2-1990 to Present
Second, the veteran must have received a discharge other than dishonorable. If the applicant is a widow or widower, he or she must have been married to a veteran who met the first two requirements, and must have been living with the veteran when the veteran died (unless the separation was due to medical or military reasons).
To qualify medically, the applicant must need the assistance of another person to perform daily tasks such as eating, dressing, undressing, toiletry needs, etc. Significant visual impairment or residing in an assisted living facility or nursing home for mental or physical incapacity also qualifies an applicant medically.
To qualify financially, the veterans’ allowable medical expenses must exceed household income. Many who live in an assisted living facility, or pay for home care, meet this requirement. For example, a veteran and spouse with a combined income of $2,500 a month residing in an assisted living facility costing $6,000 a month will easily pass this test. Finally, the veteran (along with any spouse or other dependent) must have limited household assets. A general rule of thumb is that assets – other than the primary residential home, a car, and personal belongings – should not exceed $80,000. But in many cases, the VA applies a calculation that considers countable assets, income, and medical expenses over the applicant’s life expectancy. Click here to see a listing of possible Medical Expenses that can be deducted from gross income to qualify for VA benefits.
Deductible Medical Expenses for VA Benefits
These can be deducted from your gross income to determine VA benefit eligibility.
|Medicare Premiums deducted from Social Security||Hearing aids & batteries||Psychologist
|Supplementary medical insurance (Part B) under Medicare||Home health services
|Abdominal supports||Insulin Treatment||Seeing-eye dog|
|Acupuncture service||Insurance premiums (medical)||Speech therapist|
|Ambulance hire||Invalid chair||Splints|
|Arch supports||Lip reading lessons (in connection with disability)||Telephone/teletype for deaf|
|Artificial limbs||Neurologist||Transportation expenses (20 cents per mile)|
|Back supports||Nursing services||Vaccines|
|Braces||Occupational therapist||Vitamins prescribed by doctor|
|Chiropodist||Optician||Whirlpool baths for medical purposes|
|Convalescent home (for medical treatment only)||Osteopath
|Dermatologist||Prescriptions and drugs|
|Food or beverages prescribed by doctor for treatment of illness||Psychoanalyst|
NOTE: Most medical expenses must be prescribed by a physician to be deductible from gross income for VA benefit qualification purposes.
If you’d like to talk to one of our attorneys about Elder Law & VA Planning, please call us at (502) 423-7023.