Low-income Veterans who applied for Aid & Attendance benefits a couple of years ago faced fewer restrictions and had an easier time qualifying than those applying today. That’s because new rules approved by the Veterans Administration in 2015 went into effect in October of 2018. These rules establish an asset limit dollar amount, asset transfer restrictions, and a look-back period. If you are a wartime Veteran in need of assistance paying for long-term care, you would be wise to consult a Veteran’s Benefits Attorney to help you navigate these new, complicated rules to increase your chances of approval.
What Are Aid & Attendance Benefits?
If you are a Veteran over the age of 65 who served during a wartime period, are of limited means, and are in need of long-term care, you can apply for an increase of your general pension benefits to cover these costs. This is called the Aid & Attendance benefit, and it can be used to pay for assisted living or a nursing home if you can’t otherwise afford it. These benefits are intended to help Veterans with all the tasks of daily living, such as taking care of personal needs, taking medication, getting medical care, managing finances, and preparing and eating meals. The VA will look at your military service period, discharge status, medical condition, and financial situation when considering your application for benefits.
Financial Eligibility for Aid & Attendance
Veterans have always had to show financial need to qualify for Aid & Attendance benefits, but before October of 2018, there was no specified asset amount they could not exceed in order to be approved. Also, because the VA did not penalize applicants for transferring assets before applying for benefits, Veterans could divest themselves of the bulk of their assets in order to qualify for benefits. This is no longer true. Veterans now face the following restrictions:
- A specific net worth limit. When the rule first went into effect in 2018, the net-worth limit was $123,600, but it has increased slightly each year since then. In order to qualify for Aid & Attendance benefits, your total countable income and assets cannot exceed the net-worth limit for the year in which you are applying. Some assets, such as the primary residence, are excluded from the net worth calculation. A Veteran’s Benefits Attorney can help you determine what your countable assets are and whether you qualify.
- A look-back period of three years. Mirroring the Medicaid application process, the VA now looks back over your financial records for the three years before the date of your application. If you transferred assets to a family member or trust within the look-back period in order to meet the net-worth limit, you will be subject to a penalty period of up to five years, during which time you will be ineligible for benefits.
If you were approved for Aid & Attendance before October of 2018, these restrictions do not apply to you. For new applicants, transfers made prior to October of 2018 are not included in the look-back period. Identifying the benefits for which you may be eligible, understanding the ever-changing rules, and completing a complicated application can be overwhelming. Fortunately, you do not have to go through it alone.
If You Are a Wartime Veteran in Texas or Arkansas, Talk to Us About VA Benefits
Planning related to obtaining Veteran’s benefits is very complicated. Not only must you meet the VA’s eligibility rules exactly, but additional planning will be necessary for a person to protect themselves, their life savings, and their dignity. Our Elder Law Attorneys are also accredited by the VA, a requirement for assisting with VA planning. Our team has the knowledge and experience to help you qualify for the benefits you have earned to get the care you need. It is never too soon—or too late—to benefit from the advice we have to offer Veterans. Contact us by filling out the form on this page today. We will get back to you as soon as possible.