VA Benefits 101: Pension with Aid and Attendance

Basics of VA Benefits

Recently we announced that the VA is making significant changes to the VA Pension with Aid and Attendance benefit. Some are still wondering what exactly is the VA Pension with Aid and Attendance benefit. This special pension is available to wartime veterans and their surviving spouses who are now seniors and facing long-term care costs such as home care, assisted living facility fees and nursing home expenses. This benefit is connected to wartime service but is not connected to disability compensation.

Qualifying for the VA Pension with Aid and Attendance benefit can be challenging because it is means-tested. The VA is implementing new rules that will go into effect next week. Here is a quick overview of the VA Pension with Aid and Attendance benefit and the eligibility rules.

The Basics of VA Pension with Aid and Attendance

Few vets realize that the VA Pension with Aid and Attendance benefit exists, and their local VA office often doesn’t tell them about it! Many elderly vets are battling chronic conditions and struggling to pay for their long-term care needs. The VA Pension with Aid and Attendance benefit can be a great resource when helping people pay for their long-term care needs. We can help you understand your rights and how to access this under-utilized benefit that is available to veterans and/or their surviving spouses.

The VA Pension with Aid and Attendance benefit can pay up to $2,169/month for married couples, $1,830/month for a single veteran, and $1,176 for a surviving spouse. This cash benefit is given to the veteran or the surviving spouse of a veteran for him/her to use as needed to pay for care. You can use this money to pay for home care, assisted living care, personal care home expenses, nursing home care or even care provided by a family member.

Eligibility Requirements for VA Pension with Aid and Attendance

There are service, income and asset requirements that must be met in order to be eligible for VA Pension with Aid and Attendance.

Service Requirements: You or your spouse must have served for at least 90 consecutive days of active duty, must have served at least one day during a war (click here for eligible dates of service), and must have a discharge that is other-than dishonorable.

Asset Requirements: The current rule of thumb is that a single veteran can have no more than $50,000 in countable assets, and a married couple can have no more than $80,000. By the end of October, the asset limit will be set at $123,600. Those amounts include retirement assets, but exclude a home and a vehicle. If your assets exceed the current VA limits, there are asset planning options that can help you qualify. Consulting with a Certified Elder Law Attorney can help you determine the best way to qualify, given your circumstances. Be warned, though, the VA is implementing a 36-month look-back period that will go into effect next week.

Income Requirements: The VA has its own definition of income which they utilize in examining an application. Your income for “VA Purposes” is your gross income less your unreimbursed medical expenses (click here for a list of possible medical expenses). There is NO specified income limit for VA pension benefits. If the income for VA Purposes is less than the maximum benefit ($2,169/month for a married couple, $1,830/month for a single veteran, and $1,176 for a surviving spouse), the veteran or surviving spouse is eligible for Aid and Attendance from an income standpoint.

These requirements can seem daunting to families who need extra income to pay for care and have been told they have too much money to qualify. The Certified Elder Law Attorneys at Hurley Elder Care Law can devise a strategy to allow veterans or a surviving spouse to qualify for the benefit.

We take a comprehensive, hands-on approach to planning for Veterans and their spouses. Our goal is not only to obtain the benefits a veteran may be entitled to but also to protect the assets of the veteran and spouse. We work to preserve the resources the veteran and spouse need to ensure their complex and evolving care needs are met throughout their lives. We provide a detailed asset plan that not only makes obtaining benefits possible but also protects eligibility for other benefits they may need in the future such as Medicaid.

To access our complimentary phone consultation, please contact our office at (404) 843-0121 or through our website at http://hurleyeclaw.com/contacts/