Did you know that the most commonly overlooked senior benefits are those earned by veterans and their spouses? As you struggle to figure out how you are going to pay for the care you need as you age, don’t miss out on the benefits you earned through your time serving in the U.S. military. While some VA Benefits are only available to military retirees or those with service-connected disabilities, there are other benefits intended to help all wartime veterans and their spouses. Learn more about these benefits and contact our experienced Veteran’s Benefits Attorneys to find out if you might be eligible.
What Are Aid & Attendance Benefits?
This VA program is intended to support veterans and their spouses who are over the age of 65, blind or disabled, or need someone else’s help with the tasks of daily living. A senior may be considered eligible for Aid & Attendance if he is unable to manage several of the following daily tasks on his own:
- Take care of personal hygiene, such as bathing, grooming, and oral care
- Make appropriate clothing decisions and physically dress and undress himself
- Get in and out of bed and walk independently from one location to another
- Plan and prepare meals, including cooking, cleaning up, and using kitchen appliances and utensils safely
- Take the correct dosage of prescribed medications at the appropriate times and manage refills
- Manage personal finances including budgeting, paying bills, and avoiding scams
When a senior is unable to manage these tasks of daily living, it may be time to consider assisted living or a nursing home. However, many seniors don’t have to resources to pay for this kind of care. Aid & Attendance benefits can go a long way towards paying for the care the veteran needs.
How Does a Veteran Qualify for Aid & Attendance?
Along with being over 65 and unable to care for oneself, a veteran must meet several additional requirements. While a VA-certified Elder Law Attorney will be able to tell you more definitively if you should be eligible for these benefits, the following is a summary of the requirements for Aid & Attendance:
- Military service. The veteran must have served on active duty for at least 90 days, at least one of which must have been during an official period of war. These periods include World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam era, and the Gulf War. It is not necessary that the veteran served in combat.
- Discharge. The veteran must have received an honorable discharge, other-than-honorable discharge, a general discharge, or a medical discharge.
- Income requirements. These benefits are intended for veterans with a low monthly income and an average net worth. However, these determinations depend on many complicated factors, including your age at the time of disability and your additional unreimbursed medical expenditures. Typically, the VA does not count the value of a home in its determination of net worth. With a thorough understanding of the rules and the guidance of an experienced advisor, many people can meet this section of the eligibility test.
- Spouse of a veteran. The surviving spouse of a wartime veteran is also entitled to the Aid & Attendance benefit if he or she was married to the veteran for at least one year, married to the veteran at the time of the veteran’s death, and has not since remarried.
This is a simplified version of the qualifications you must meet to get Aid & Attendance benefits as a veteran. When you work with us, you won't have to worry about the details—we'll take care of that for you!
So why is all of this discussion about the Aid and Attendance benefit so important?
For those who qualify, the VA will send money that the person can use to help pay for their care. For 2019, a surviving spouse of a veteran could receive a maximum benefit of approximately $1,209.00 per month, a single veteran could receive a maximum benefit of approximately $1,881.00 per month and a veteran with a dependent spouse could receive a maximum benefit of approximately $2,230.00 per month.
Let’s take Sally as an example. Sally is the surviving spouse of a veteran who served during the Korean conflict. She is seventy-nine years old and her Social Security and retirement income totals $2,000.00 per month. Sally’s health has declined and although she still lives at home, it is becoming more and more difficult to take care of herself. Sally looked at one of the local assisted living facilities and really liked what she saw. However, when she was told that the monthly cost would be $2,500.00, she assumed that she could not afford that much expense and continued to live at home in an unsafe environment. But after applying for the Aid and Attendance benefit through the VA, Sally was able to receive the maximum VA benefit of $1,209.00 per month. This increased her income to $3,209.00 dollars and she can now afford to live in the assisted living facility that she thought she could not afford.
That is a great result, but what if she now wants to sell her $150,000.00 home? That’s where proper planning comes in. For example, she could place that home in a properly designed trust without penalty and then sell the home with affecting her benefits.
Planning related to obtaining VA benefits is very complicated. Not only must you meet the VA’s eligibility rules exactly, this type of planning is only a small part of the type of planning that is necessary for a person to protect themselves, their life savings, and their dignity. Many Elder Law Attorneys are also accredited VA attorneys. A lawyer must be accredited by the Veterans Administration in order to assist you with VA planning. In addition to Elder Law Attorneys, there are Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) that can also provide assistance with VA benefits. However, you should NEVER allow a care provider, non-accredited attorney or any other unqualified person or organization to assist you. There are many scam artists that use this VA benefit to line their own pockets, so be cautious and only deal with reputable people that have your best interests in mind.
For those who qualify, the VA Aid and Attendance benefit can be the difference between life and death. Anyone interested should seek advice, even if they do not need the benefit yet.
U.S. PERIODS OF WAR
MEXICAN BORDER May 9, 1916 – Apr. 5, 1917
WORLD WAR I Apr. 6, 1917 – Nov. 11, 1918 (Apr. 1, 1920 if served in Russia)
WORLD WAR II Dec. 7, 1941– Dec. 31, 1946
KOREAN CONFLICT Jun. 27, 1950 to Jan. 31, 1955
VIETNAM WAR Aug. 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975 (Feb. 28, 1961 if served in Vietnam)
PERSIAN GULF WAR Aug. 2, 1990 – Unknown Date
If You Are a Wartime Veteran, Talk to a Veteran's Benefits Attorney
Planning related to obtaining VA 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 VA Benefits you have earned to get the care you need. Contact us today.