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Estate Planning Blog

Did You Know Eligible Veterans Qualify for Help Paying for Long-Term Care?

July 1, 2019

There’s an extremely important, but poorly publicized, VA program we wanted to share with you today.

Known as the Veterans Pension Aid & Attendance Benefit (or "VA Aid & Attendance"), this program can help cover assisted-living costs for qualifying veterans and their spouses.

More specifically, these funds can help pay for:

  • In-home care
  • Board and care
  • Private nursing homes
  • Assisted living communities

However, recent rule changes to the VA Aid & Attendance Benefit could impact your eligibility for this program – making it harder to access available funding.

But first, let’s go over the basic qualifications for the Veterans Pension Aid & Attendance Benefit.

Eligibility Requirements for VA Aid & Attendance

To qualify for this VA-sponsored program, recipients must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be 65 years or older. However, it’s also possible for younger applicants to qualify if they are officially disabled.
  • You must require help with activities of daily living at home or in an assisted living facility. The need for assistance does not have to be related to injury or disability arising from military service.
  • You must have been in the Armed Forces for a minimum of 90 days, with at least one of those days coinciding with a "wartime period" (even if you never officially saw combat).
  • Your service must have concluded with an other than dishonorable discharge.
  • You cannot simultaneously receive both VA Disability compensation and Aid & Attendance. However, you can choose to participate in whichever program offers a higher benefit.
  • If applying as a surviving spouse, you must be unmarried when filing a claim, and you must have lived with the veteran at the time of his or her death.

Finally, VA Aid & Attendance applicants must meet limited asset and net worth requirements.

And this is where that recent rule change comes in.

Veteran Holding Flag

The New VA Aid & Attendance Guidelines

Prior to October 2018, the Department of Veterans Affairs only looked at each applicant’s current assets and income when determining a recipient’s financial eligibility. The previous threshold was unofficially $80,000 for a married couple, which included:

  • All assets except the applicant’s primary residence and vehicle.
  • Any income – after deducting all eligible medical expenses.

After October 2018, however, the VA implemented a "look back" period and set a ceiling on net worth (a combination of income and assets).

Under this 3-year "look back" rule, applicants are not allowed to dispose for less than market value or transfer assets in an effort to push their net worth below the $123,600 cap. However, any sales or transfers that took place prior to October 2018 aren’t affected by this recent rule change.

How Much Does the VA Aid & Attendance Program Cover?

Assuming you qualify for the program, the potential funding is quite helpful. Below is the current schedule:

  • Veterans can receive up to $22,577 per year
  • Veterans and spouses qualify for $26,766 per year
  • Surviving spouses receive up to $14,509 per year

With longer life expectancies and ever-rising health care expenses, these amounts probably will not cover the full cost of assisted living. Although, this funding can help you or your loved ones spend their golden years receiving quality care with far less financial stress.

But before you send in your paperwork to the VA, there is onemore point to consider.

Navigating the Complex Veterans Affairs Landscape

Even before the recent rule change, the application process for the VA Aid & Attendance program was complicated.

The approval process can easily take months. And that’s assuming that your VA Aid & Attendance application is 100% error-free the very first time around.

Fortunately, however, we’ve published a free Educational Report to help you cut through the VA’s red tape. We invite you to use this handy resource to ensure you qualify for the maximum amount to which you are entitled.

To get started, grab your free copy of our VA Aid Assistance guide today.

And if you have additional questions about covering long-term care as a veteran or surviving spouse, schedule a consultation with our Estate Planning Experts by calling 916.241.9661.

Call The Chubb Law Firm today at (916) 241-9661 to review your goals and discuss your options.

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