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Veteran's Benefits - A Well Kept Secret

As the founder of the Elder and Estate Planning Law Firm, I specialize in helping Michigan families protect their estates. Whether you are worried about nursing home expenses that exceed on average $9,000.00 per month, assisted living expenses, having your estate avoid probate court or planning for a special needs child or grandchild, I have helped thousands of families obtain peace of mind when faced with such issues. Often this involves qualifying for Medicaid or VA benefits, creating a trust for an estate or a special needs trust for a disabled loved one. This VA pension benefit can be a tremendous blessing for those wartime veterans or their spouses who are facing the overwhelming burden of paying for an assisted living facility, nursing home or in home care. My clients have found this information to be a valuable resource, and I trust you also will find it useful.

One of the Veterans 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 – does not require 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, etc. 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. For example, this would include needing assistance with bathing, dressing, preparing meals, eating etc. Under this program, a single veteran can receive a maximum of $1,911 per month. A married veteran will be able to receive up to $2,266 per month. A surviving spouse is able to receive up to $1,278 per month.

The A&A pension also has a net worth limitation that must be met in order to qualify. The current net worth limit is $129,094.

The VA also sets family income limits which the applicant cannot exceed. A married veteran’s annual income limit for the A&A benefit is about $27,000. 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. 87 year old Bill Jones is a Korean War Veteran. Due to his dementia, he recently moved from his Flint home into an assisted living facility which costs about $5,000 a month. His pension and Social Security income total $2,000 each month. With savings of only $75,000, he applies for the A&A pension. The VA considers his assisted living expense of $5,000 per month as unreimbursed medical expenses and offsets this against his monthly income leaving Bill with a negative income of $3,000 each month. As a result, Bill is eligible for the $1,911 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.

This blog post is written by Brett A. Howell, Certified Elder Law Attorney. The blog is written 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.


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