As a 12 year veteran of the Navy, our founder, Marty Burbank feels very strongly about veterans issues. Here at OC Elder Law, we believe it’s our responsibility to educate our clients about an important benefit that is available through the Department of Veterans Affairs, to which their loved ones may be entitled. It is called Aid and Attendance.
Aid and Attendance is an enhancement to the Veterans Pension. This benefit can pay a Veteran and a surviving spouse cash every month. The cash is tax-free and may be used in any way, including paying for long term care in a nursing home, assisted living facility, or care at home. The maximum benefits for 2016 include:
$2,120 per month for a married Veteran
$1,788 per month for a single Veteran
$1,149 per month for a Surviving Spouse
However, before the Veteran or Surviving Spouse receives any benefits, they must first meet the eligibility requirements:
The Veteran’s discharge must be anything other than dishonorable. Additionally, the Veteran must have served ninety (90) consecutive days. One of those days must have been during one (1) of the following times:
World War I: April 6, 1917, through November 11, 1918
World War II: December 7, 1941, through December 31, 1946
Korean War: June 27, 1950, through January 31, 1955
Vietnam War: August 5, 1964, through May 7, 1975
[beginning time extended to February 28, 1961, for a Veteran who served in the county before August 5, 1964]
Persian Gulf War: August 2, 1990, through Present
It is important to note that the Veteran does not need to have been in combat. The Veteran only needs to have served for one (1) day during the dates mentioned above.
The Veteran or Surviving Spouse must have a medical need that requires the aid and attendance of another to perform activities of daily living. A doctor will need to certify that the Veteran or Surviving Spouse does, in fact, need the assistance of another.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) calculates income in an odd way. First, the VA will look at all of your income. It will then subtract any unreimbursed medical expenses from your income. Unreimbursed medical expenses can include in-home caregiving expenses, assisted living expenses, insurance premiums, paying an adult child to be a caregiver, among others. The Veteran will receive the maximum benefit amount if the medical expenses exceed 105% of income, otherwise, a smaller amount will be granted. However, every Veteran’s situation is different and a detailed analysis is needed to determine income qualifications.
The VA also looks at the Veteran’s or the Surviving Spouse’s assets to determine the need for this cash benefit. Assets include all bank accounts, brokerage accounts, etc. However, the asset limitation does not include the Veteran’s or the Surviving Spouse’s primary residence.
The VA eligibility worker has wide discretion in determining the asset requirement for each case. However, $80,000 and below seems to be the amount that the eligibility worker has discretion over to approve an application. An application with more than $80,000 in assets is likely to be reviewed by the VA eligibility reviewer’s supervisor for approval.
If the Veteran or Surviving Spouse Does Not Qualify
If the Veteran or Surviving Spouse does not currently qualify for Veterans Pension with Aid and Attendance due to the Income Requirement or Asset Requirement, OC Elder Law can help. There are proven strategies we can implement to qualify and obtain these cash benefits. Let our expert Veterans Affairs Accredited attorneys navigate you through this process and give you peace of mind.
If the Veteran or Surviving Spouse Already Qualifies
There is no need to pay anyone for the application. In fact, it is illegal for anyone to charge with the application. Please visit our website at OCElderLaw.com to download the necessary application forms including the VA Application, the Doctor’s Form, and the Care Provider Report.