Written by attorney Brett A. Howell

Veteran's Benefits - A Well Kept Secret

One of the Veteran’s Administration’s best kept secrets is the veteran’s benefit for a non-service connected disability. This benefit is an excellent source of funds for seniors receiving in home care or residing in an assisted living facility. Most VA benefits are based on a disability that was incurred while serving in the armed forces. This benefit however – a pension program – doesnotrequire a wartime injury. It is available for individuals who have served during wartime and are disabled due to the issues of old age, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, ect. This benefit can be a tremendous blessing for those wartime veterans who are facing the burden of paying for an assisted living, nursing home, or in home care.

Aid and Attendance Benefits

There is a specific type of this VA pension which is of particular importance. It is called “Aid and Attendance" (A and A) benefits and is available to those veterans who are not only disabled, but also require the aid and attendance of another person on a regular basis. For example, this would include needing assistance with bathing, dressing, preparing meals, eating etc. Under this program beginning in January of 2012, a single veteran can receive a maximum of $1,703 per month. A married veteran will be able to receive up to $2,019 per month. A surviving spouse in 2012 will be able to receive up to $1,094 per month. These are the first cost of living adjustments since 2008.

The A&A pension also has asset and income limitations that must be met in order to qualify. Generally, it is presumed that a single person can have up to $50,000 of countable assets (excluding a home and car) and a married veteran’s countable assets cannot exceed $80,000. These figures decrease steadily as the veteran or spouse ages.

The VA also sets family income limits which the applicant cannot exceed. In 2012, a married veteran’s annual income for the A&A benefit is about $24,300. The income limits however can be offset by unreimbursed medical expenses. For example, the cost of a nursing home, assisted living or the expenses incurred for in-home care can be deducted from the person’s income.

A simplified example will help explain. 79 year old Bill Jones is a Korean War Veteran. Due to his dementia, he recently moved from hisFlinthome into an assisted living facility which costs about $3,000 a month. His pension and Social Security income total $1,800 each month. With savings of only $35,000, he applies for the A&A pension. The VA considers his assisted living expense of $3,000 per month as unreimbursed medical expenses and offsets this against his monthly income leaving Bill with a negative income of $1,200 each month. As a result, Bill is eligible the $1,703 A&A pension benefit each month. Now Mr. Jones will be able to afford the assisted living and still be able to pay the taxes, utilities, insurance, etc. on his home.

It’s a shame that so many veterans who served our country honorably are unaware of this pension benefit – particularly at a time when so many could use it. An elder law attorney can assist veterans and their spouses in qualifying for this well deserved VA pension.

Legal Services Available:

The Elder & Estate Planning Law Firm, P.L.L.C. offers the following legal services:

  • Medicaid Planning - Guardianship

  • Powers of Attorney - Conservatorship

  • Veteran Benefits - Estate Administration

  • Trust and Wills - Probate

This article was written by Brett A. Howell, Certified Elder Law Attorney and was published as a service of The Elder and Estate Planning Law Firm, P.L.L.C. This information is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For a consultation to address specific questions, please call (810) 953-3846.

Additional resources provided by the author

Additional information can be found on the Elder and Estate Planning Law Firm's website

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