Veterans Are You Getting What You Deserve?

Veterans: Are You Getting What You Deserve?

Question: My dad is in a nursing home and needs help paying for care but he has too much money to get onto Medicaid. He is retired from the military, and I heard that the VA may be able to offer him some help. Is this true?

Answer: Yes. The Department of Veterans Affairs has maintained a Pension program for many years to help certain categories of veterans with special needs. Although not everyone is eligible, these Pension benefits can be of significant value and, your dad may be eligible.

One such benefit, “Aid and Attendance” is available to a veteran or widow(er) of a veteran, providing that the veteran served at least 90 days of active military service (at least one day being during wartime) and was not dishonorably discharged.

In addition to the service requirement, the person applying for benefits (“the Claimant”) must meet one of the following conditions: (1) Claimant is blind; (2) Claimant is living in a nursing home;
OR (3) Claimant is unable to: (a) dress/ undress, take care of personal hygiene, or toileting; OR (c) Claimant’s mental capacity declines to the level of endangering the Claimant if unaided.

When a Claimant fits those standards, the VA goes on to examine the Claimant’s finances. The Claimant’s countable family income, less annual medical expenses, must be below a yearly limit set by law. The Claimant’s savings and other assets are also considered. Unlike Medicaid, which sets a strict limit on “countable resources” at $2000, the Aid and Attendance benefit may be granted even if the veteran has money in the bank. A rule of thumb, the Claimant should have no more than $80,000 in savings to be accepted into the Aid & Attendance program.

Applying for VA benefits is often complicated and may take some time. Although you can apply for benefits on your own, you are better off seeking assistance from an attorney who has been accredited by the VA. An accredited VA attorney, like the attorneys at McGinty & Belcher, can evaluate your income and assets, and potential conflicts with Medicaid and provide information on the best strategies to maximize a Pension award.

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McGinty & Belcher

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