Before we explain the Veterans Aid and Attendance special pension, we should look at some statistics that are quite relevant. When you have been able to handle all of your own activities of daily living throughout your life, it can be hard to imagine a time when you will have significant limitations. Unfortunately, nearly 3 out of every four senior citizens will someday need living assistance. Of course, it becomes more likely as you reach your mid-70s and 80s.
Some people can get all the help that they need from family members, friends, and neighbors, but there are others that need to engage paid in-home health aides or attendants. Companies that provide these professionals charge very hefty prices, and Medicare does not pay for in-home care. If you are in this position, you need all the help that you can get if you are not extremely wealthy.
Benefit for Wartime Veterans
There is assistance available for some veterans that need help with their day-to-day needs in the form of the Veterans Aid and Attendance special pension. Most people and all veterans are aware of the fact that Americans that serve can start to receive a retirement pension after 20 years of service. This special pension is entirely different from the retirement pension.
You do not need a long service record to qualify for this benefit. As long as you have served for at least 90 days, with a minimum of one of the days taking place during a time of war, you meet the length of service requirement. This being stated, the benefit is only available to wartime veterans that were discharged under honorable conditions.
If you meet the length of service requirement, you must be able to prove that you do in fact need assistance with your activities of daily living. These would include things like cooking, bathing keeping your home clean, doing yard work, shopping, etc. You would have to provide medical evidence when you are submitting your application for the special pension.
The Veterans Aid and Attendance special pension is intended for veterans with limited financial resources, so there are monetary parameters in place. Traditionally, determinations were made on a case-by-case basis, but there was a general limit of $80,000 on countable assets. We should point out the fact that some things do not count, including your home, personal belongings, household goods, and one motor vehicle.
In 2018, new parameters were put in place by the Veterans Administration. The assets that do not count remain the same, but there is a big difference in the benchmark for countable assets.
It is now in line with the Medicaid Community Spouse Resource Allowance. This is the amount that a healthy spouse would be able to keep if their spouse was to apply for Medicaid to pay for long-term care. Many people do seek Medicaid eligibility, because Medicare does not pay for the custodial care you would receive in a nursing home.
The figure is adjusted each year to account for inflation, but at the time of this writing in 2018, the Community Spouse Resource Allowance is $123,600. As a result, if you are a qualified veteran, and the total value of your countable assets does not exceed this amount, you could gain eligibility for the special pension.
Other new development is the fact that there is now a look back period that applies to the special pension. Previously, if you wanted to gain eligibility and you had significant resources, you could give them away to loved ones today and apply for the pension tomorrow.
That has changed, because the new guidelines include a three-year look back period. If you give away assets within three years of your application submission date, you would be deemed ineligible.
A single veteran that is approved for the Veterans Aid and Attendance special pension can receive as much as $1794 a month. The surviving spouse of an eligible veteran could qualify for up to $1153 monthly. Eligible married couples can receive a maximum of $2127 a month, and a self-sufficient veteran with a spouse that needs living assistance could receive a $1410 monthly benefit.
Learn More About Important Elder Law & Estate Planning Topics!
Our firm has prepared a special worksheet that you can utilize to gain an understanding of where you are and where you need to go from an estate planning perspective. We get a lot of positive feedback from people that have used it, so we urge you to take advantage of this opportunity. This resource is being offered free of charge right now, and you can visit our worksheet access page to get your copy.