As we have discussed in previous newsletters, one of the best kept secrets of the Department of Veterans Affairs is the veteran’s pension for a non-service connected disability. This benefit – a pension program – does not require a wartime injury. It is available to veterans (and their spouses), provided the veteran is disabled, served for no less than 90 days with at least 1 day during wartime and was honorably discharged. This pension benefit can be a tremendous blessing for those disabled veterans who are facing the burden of paying for assisted living, nursing home or in-home care.
Aid and Attendance Benefit
There is a specific type of VA pension which is very important. It’s called the “Aid and Attendance” (or A&A) pension and is available to those veterans who are disabled and require the aid of another person to perform personal functions on a regular basis such as needing assistance with bathing, dressing, preparing meals, eating, etc. Under this program, a single veteran can receive a maximum of $1911.00 per month. A married veteran can receive up to $2266.00 per month. A surviving spouse is able to receive up to $1228.00 per month. These figures are based upon the most recent cost-of-living adjustments.
The A&A pension also has asset and income limitations that must be met in order to qualify. Currently a single or married applicant can have no more than $129,094.00 in countable assets.
The VA also sets family income limits. In 2020, a married veteran’s annual income limit for the A&A benefit is more than $27,000.00. The income limits however, can be offset by un-reimbursed 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. Bill Jones is an 89 year old Korean War veteran. Due to his dementia, he recently moved into an assisted living facility which costs about $4000.00 per month. His pension and Social Security income total $2500.00 each month. With savings of only $75,000, he applies for the A&A pension. The VA considers the cost of his assisted living an un-reimbursed medical expense and offsets this against his monthly income. As a result, Bill is eligible for the A&A pension benefit. Now he can afford the assisted living without having to sell his home.
The A&A pension can mean the difference between a veteran or surviving spouse being able to afford the long term care he or she needs or having to rely upon loved ones to meet their long term care needs. Be sure to consult with an experienced attorney to make sure your disabled veteran is able to take full advantage of the A&A benefit.
Elder Law Today is written by Brett A. Howell, Certified Elder Law Attorney. The newsletter is 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.