There are millions of senior Veterans and surviving spouses of Veterans over the age of 65 in the united states. Many of these Veterans and surviving spouses are receiving long-term care or will need some type of care in the future. What many Veterans don’t know is that there is financial assistance available from the Veterans Administration (VA) to help cover the costs.
There are 3 types of benefits available that provide monthly tax-free cash to senior Veterans or surviving spouses in need of long-term health care.
Veterans Pension – Supplemental Income for Wartime Senior Veterans
The Veterans Pension provides a monthly cash benefit to wartime Veterans age 65+. To receive the Veterans pension you must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Served at least 90 days of active duty with at least 1 day during a wartime period
- Other than dishonorable discharge
- Age 65+, OR
- Totally and permanently disabled, OR
- A patient in a nursing home receiving skilled nursing care, OR
- Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, OR
- Receiving Supplemental Security Income
Veterans or surviving spouses who are eligible for VA pension and are housebound or require the aid and attendance of another person may be eligible for an additional monetary payment.
If a Veteran or surviving spouse is Veterans Pension eligible and confined to their home with a permanent disability, they may qualify for a slightly higher payment.
Veterans Aid & Attendance
The highest monthly benefit is Veterans Aid & Attendance. Senior Veterans eligible for the Veterans Pension that also require assistance in activities of daily living, are blind or nearly so, or are in a nursing home can qualify for Aid & Attendance. Activities of daily living include personal functions like:
- Using the restroom
Surviving Spouses of Wartime Veterans
Surviving spouses of wartime veterans can also apply for the benefits listed above. The requirements for eligibility are:
- Surviving Spouse hasn’t remarried
- Deceased Veteran served at least 90 days of active duty with at least 1 day during a wartime period
- Deceased Veteran must have received other than dishonorable discharge
Asset and Income Requirements
These benefits for senior Veterans and surviving spouses also take annual income and net worth into account. A married Veteran and spouse can have no more than $80,000 in countable assets (less for a single Veteran or surviving spouse). This includes retirement accounts but excludes a home and vehicle. However, the $80,000 limit is only a guideline. The VA looks at total net worth, life expectancy, income and medical expenses to determine if an applicant is entitled to special pension benefits.
Income for VA Purposes
Income for VA Purposes (IVAP) means a Veteran or surviving spouse must have less income than the benefit they are applying for. IVAP is calculated by subtracting an applicants countable medical expenses from their gross income. An applicants countable medical expenses are recurring out-of-pocket medical expenses that are expected to continue throughout their lifetime. If an applicants IVAP is equal to or greater than the annual benefit amount, they are not eligible for benefits.
How An Attorney Can Help You Qualify
If a Veteran or surviving spouse has too much income/too many assets, a qualified VA Aid & Attendance attorney can help. An attorney can assist in strategically placing assets to allow you to qualify with minimal impact on Medicaid in the future. Unlike Medicaid, when applying for Aid & Attendance there is no look-back period and no penalty for giving assets away. But, if not done correctly, these strategies to qualify for VA benefits can cause a period of ineligibility for Medicaid lasting up to 5 years. That is why it is very important to have an attorney execute a plan for you.
The Application Process
The application process for these benefits can be slow. Some applications take over a year before the VA approves them. The good news is that the benefits are retroactive to the month after the application is received.
If you believe you are eligible, it is important to apply as soon as possible. If you meet all the VA requirements for assistance but are worried about having excess income or assets, give us a call today: 912-352-3999