Many veterans and their spouses are unaware that they may be eligible for a benefit called Aid & Attendance. The Aid & Attendance benefit is available to veterans and/or their spouses where the veteran meets the following qualifications:
● Served in the military for at least one day during a wartime
● Must have had a minimum of 90 days of active duty in the military
● Received better than dishonorable discharge
● Must have a net worth that is not excessive (estate planning can address this issue)
● Is a resident in a nursing home, assisted living facility or receives home health care
The purpose of the Aid & Attendance benefit is to pay for the veteran’s medical expenses to the extent that they exceed the veteran’s and his or her spouse’s income. Expenses such as the cost of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and home health care are usually included in this calculation. The Aid & Attendance benefit can be a substantial supplement. For example:
● A married couple may qualify for up to $2,054 per month
● A single veteran may qualify for up to $1,732 per month
● A surviving spouse may qualify for up to $1,113 per month
Similar to Medicaid Qualification/Planning, there are limitations on the amount of assets that the veteran can own and still be eligible for Aid & Attendance. In the past, the maximum of amount of “countable” assets was said to be around $80,000. However, today the Veterans Administration does not employ a bright line rule and instead looks at a variety of factors including age, income, medical and non-medical expenses, marital status and health in making a determination on eligibility. In our experience, countable asset levels should be in the $30,000 to $40,000 range at the time of application. Assets in excess of those levels will receive increased scrutiny from the Veterans Administration. As more veterans and their families become aware of this benefit, it is likely that more applications will be filed which will result in the Veterans Administration heightening the standard that applicants must meet in order to qualify.
We can help
Even if you have a significant amount of assets, an Elder Law attorney can assist you with structuring those assets to help you qualify for Aid & Attendance benefit if you have substantial medical expenses. Many individuals who are in nursing homes or assisted living facilities receive a benefit from the VA for Aid & Attendance even though they may have a relatively high amount of assets. There are several planning strategies that could potentially be used to help you structure your assets to meet the asset requirement. You may need to act quickly; however, as Congress is currently considering a 3 year look-back period that would result in a disqualification period from these benefits if transfers of assets were made 3 years prior to applying for the same. Do not transfer assets without contacting an attorney. Not only could it affect your eligibility for Aid & Attendance, it could also affect your eligibility for Medicaid.
At Wilson Law, P.A., we are committed to helping our veterans receive all of the benefits for which they qualify. If you believe you may be eligible for Aid & Attendance, please contact us for a FREE consultation.