Veterans Needs

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Improved Pension Benefits for Veterans and Surviving Spouses

Many Veterans are unaware that they may be eligible for pension benefits even if they do not suffer from a service connected disability.
However, there is a veterans pension benefit program available to all veterans, and their families, to pay for home health and assisted living care. This pension benefit program is referred to as the “Aid and Attendance Program” (A&A).

Eligibility for the A&A Program:

To be eligible for the A&A program, a veteran must have served 90 days on active duty (the requirement is longer for more recent veterans), with at least one day during a wartime, and must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. Also, the veteran must be “permanently and totally disabled” because of a non-service related condition. Being over age 65 qualifies as being “permanently disabled.”

Periods of Wartime Service:

WWI: April 6, 1917 - November 11, 1918 WWII: December 7, 1941-December 31, 1946 Korean Conflict: June 27, 1950- January 31, 1955 Vietnam Era: August 5, 1964 - May 7, 1975 (February 28, 1961, for veterans who served “in country” before August 4, 1964) Persian Gulf War: August 2, 1990 - TBA

Permanently and Totally Disabled

For the A&A benefit the term “permanently and totally disabled” means that a veteran must require “care or assistance on a regular basis”, which protects him or her from dangers of a daily living environment. The term can be established by showing one, or more, of the following conditions:

  • the veteran is blind or has a visual impairment of 5/200 or less in both eyes or concentric contraction of the visual field to five degrees or less;
  • the veteran is a patient in a nursing home or hospice facility because of mental or physical incapacity;
  • the veteran is unable to dress or undress or keep himself or herself clean and presentable;
  • the veteran needs adjustments to any special prosthetic, orthopedic appliance, or is not able to attend to the wants or nature of the prosthetic, or appliance, or;
  • the veteran has a physical or mental incapacity that requires assistance on a regular basis to protect the veteran from the hazards of his or her environment.
  • Furthermore, it is generally presumed that a veteran who is residing in an assisted living facility does meet one, or more, of the aforementioned conditions. However, a letter from the veteran’s personal physician substantiating the veteran’s disability will greatly enhance the benefits process.

    Current A&A Monthly Pension Benefits:

    The current maximum monthly A&A pension benefits are as follows:

  • Veteran & Spouse: $2,120.00
  • Veteran: $1,789.00
  • Surviving Spouse: $1,149.00
  • However, the actual A&A monthly pension benefit amount to be received by the veteran, and/or his or her spouse depends on the need. The maximum monthly A&A pension benefit is determined by the total monthly income of the veteran and/or the veteran’s spouse, less the total monthly cost of un-reimbursed medical expenses.

    For FREE Consultation Call: 636-532-9933

    Un-Reimbursed Medical Expenses

    Un-reimbursed medical expenses are generally defined to include the costs associated to health and Medicare insurance premiums, prescription drugs, dental and vision care, and expenses related to an assisted living facility, an in-home care aid, and/or adult day care.

    Net Worth Valuation

    Assuming a veteran, and/or his or her spouse, has tentatively qualified for the A&A monthly pension benefit, the final test to fulfill the qualification process relates to the net worth of the applicant. With the exception of the applicant’s home, an automobile, traditional household furnishings and personal property, which are treated as non-countable. The rule of thumb maximum assets apply:

  • Couple $80,000.00
  • Individual $50,000.00
  • Younger veterans may be allowed more, older veterans less. For example a veteran above the age 90 may be allowed less. A younger veteran, say of the Persian Gulf War, would be allowed more than the rule of thumb net worth.

    A&A Pre-Planning

    Preplanning for the benefit is recommended. The Veterans Administration only looks at the applicant’s net worth at the time of the actual A&A application. There is no “penalty period” for the transfer of assets prior to the application. With proper planning, just about any veteran, and/or his or her spouse, can quality for a monthly A&A pension benefit without regard to their “net worth.” However, they must meet the medical expense requirement.

    Medicaid Benefits

    The rules of the Veterans A&A program regarding asset transfers conflicts with the Medicaid program. Medicaid pays for long term care in a nursing home. Medicaid has a “five year lookback” on asset transfers. The VA program has none. Preplanning for the VA program can wreak havoc in case the veteran later needs nursing home care. If the entry were less than five years after the asset transfers, then the assets transferred would need to be returned. Trying to satisfy the rules of both programs is like riding two horses. It can be done with difficulty. It is very important that clients engage a qualified elder law attorney when developing a total Long-Term Care Plan.

    For FREE Consultation Call: 636-532-9933

    ~ Serving clients in Chesterfield, Town & Country, Ballwin, Wildwood, Ellisville, Creve Coeur, Des Peres, St. Charles, Eureka, Kirkwood, Ladue, St. Peters, O'Fallon, Weldon Spring and other communities in the St Louis Metro area. ~