UPDATED FOR 2016: VETERANS BENEFITS FOR ASSISTED LIVING AND HOME HEALTH CARE
General Qualification Rules for Veteran’s Benefits: Aid and Attendance:
Veteran, Widowed Spouse, and Dependent or Disabled Child (Any May be a Claimant)
- Veterans must have served ninety days active duty with one day during wartime. Service-connected disability is not required.
- Claimant’s physician must declare him/her to be home-bound, in need of assistance, be in need of a “Protective Environment”, such as in an Assisted Living Facility.
- Claimant should have limited assets, excluding primary home, car, and personal belongings. In the case of a married Veteran, both his/her assets are countable.
- VA will impose a transfer penalty after February 1, 2015. In the case of countable assets over $30,000, it is best to consult a VA Accredited Elder Law Attorney. One should never transfer assets without the proper legal advice.
- Claimant may deduct cost of long-term care and medical from income.
- Surviving spouse must have been married to the Veteran for at least one year and not re-married.
Once awarded Aid and Attendance for Housebound status, a Veteran may obtain free medications, medical equipment, incontinence supplies, glasses, and hearing aids from the VA Hospital/Clinic via U.S. Mail.
|MAXIMUM ANNUAL PENSION RATE (MAPR) CATEGORY 2015-2016|
|MAPR Without Dependent Child||$8,630|
|MAPR With One Dependent Child||$11,296|
|Housebound Without Dependents||$10,548|
|Housebound With One Dependent||$13,209|
|A&A Without Dependents||$13,794|
|A&A Without Dependents (SAW Veteran’s Surviving Spouse)||$14,353|
|A&A With One Dependent||$16,456|
|A&A With One Dependent (SAW Veteran’s Surviving Spouse)||$16,955|
|Add for Each Additional Child||$2,198|
*Note: Each VA claim is unique and the above criteria is generic in nature and may not be applicable in each claimant. There are never any guarantees that any claim or specific benefit amount will be awarded.
VA AID AND ATTENDANCE HELPS VETERANS
AND SPOUSES PAY FOR HOME CARE & ASSISTED LIVING
One of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) best-kept secrets, which is an excellent source of funds for long-term care (at home, an assisted living facility or nursing home), is the VA’s Improved Pension program for a non-service connected disability for wartime veterans and their spouses.
In 2004, Robert Anderson, the U.P.’s first VA Accredited and a Certified Elder Law Attorney, was shocked to learn at a workshop of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys in South Carolina that thousands of wartime veterans are missing out on a valuable disability pension which they have the legal right to receive. Since then, our law firm has been beating the drums to get the word out.
For those veterans and their surviving spouses who are eligible, this pension benefit can be a blessing for disabled veterans and surviving spouses who need care at home, in an assisted living facility or sometimes a nursing home.
The maximum level of the VA’s Improved Pension program, called Aid and Attendance, can be as high as $2,085 per month for a married veteran or $1,759 per month for a single veteran or $1,130 per month for disabled surviving spouses. These are the amounts for 2014.
VA’s Improved Pension Programs
There are three categories of the VA Improved Pension program. They are needs and means based. In order to qualify for them, a veteran or surviving spouse must satisfy four eligibility tests: (1) wartime service, (2) disability status, (3) income, and (4) net worth.
The three Improved Pension Programs are:
1. Basic Service Pension
This is for veterans and spouses who are 65 and older with low income. There is no requirement of home-bound status or residency in assisted living/nursing home.
2. Home-Bound Status
This is for veterans and spouses who are home-bound but do not need some help with their basic daily activities.
3. Aid and Attendance (A & A)
This is for veterans and spouses who are home-bound or in assisted living or a nursing home and need help with their basic daily activities. The maximum benefit for A & A is greater than that for the first two categories as described above on page one.
Aid and Attendance
1. Wartime Service Test
Aid and Attendance is only available to honorably discharged veterans who served in active duty for at least one day during a wartime period.
2. Disability Status
To be eligible for Aid and Attendance, a veteran or surviving spouse must be determined by a physician to be permanently and totally disabled and in need of the aid and attendance of another person on a regular basis in order to perform basic daily activities. A veteran or surviving spouse residing in an assisted living facility or in a nursing home is presumed to satisfy the disability test with physician verification.
3. Income Test
The veteran or surviving spouse is expected to share in the cost of his/her long-term care. Therefore, the application will be denied if the veteran’s countable income exceeds certain disqualifying limits. The good news is that the veteran’s out-of-pocket unreimbursed medical expenses (UMEs) can be deducted in bringing his/her adjusted income below the disqualifying income limits.
The cost of home health care – even performed by a family member – is an allowable UME as long as the service provider performs some personal or nursing care. Items such as housekeeping and shopping do not qualify. The full unreimbursed cost of an assisted living facility or nursing home does qualify for UME.
4. Net Worth Test
The VA will consider the net worth of the veteran and spouses. The VA will usually deny or delay the application if the net worth is more than $30,000 for WWII and Korean era veterans1. The home and one vehicle are not countable. Restructuring the estate to reduce net worth is permitted, but should be done with the advice of an experienced VA accredited Elder Law Attorney. The VA does not penalize transfers before applying for benefits as Medicaid does. We specialize in the use of a VA eligibility trust.
How to File for Benefits
Our Law Firm specializes in veterans benefits and Elder Law. Our role is to counsel veterans on eligibility and needed asset transfers and prepare powers of attorney and probate-avoidance strategies. We then refer eligible veterans to a qualified Veterans Service Officer (VSO) to file the formal application for Improved Pensions. There are several qualified VSOs in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Northern Wisconsin to help you.
We also counsel the veteran on access to the programs offered by the Oscar G. Johnson Medical Center in Iron Mountain, Michigan. An official referral is needed through the Veteran’s primary care VA physician.
1Please note that the VA’s official net worth guideline is $80,000, but it is our experience that the VA will not give serious consideration to a claim for persons older than 70 unless net worth is under $30,000.
Robert C. Anderson is a VA Accredited attorneys and Mr. Anderson has been admitted to the U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals.
Please contact our law firm for a free appointment to assess eligibility for VA benefits at (906) 228-6212, 148 W. Hewitt, Marquette, and MI. We also have satellite offices in Escanaba, Houghton, Iron Mountain, Menominee/Marinette, and Sault Ste. Marie. Our Toll-free number is 877-304-3119 (UP only). You can email email@example.com with questions.
Our firm also provides Elder Law services for veterans and retirees, including estate and asset protection, Medicaid planning, and advance directives planning.
We are proud to serve veterans who have given so much to our country.