• February 15, 2009 at 3:11 am

    Dear Marcus,

    One of the Veteran Administration’s best kept secrets, which is an
    excellent potential source of funds for long term care (either at
    home or in an assisted living facility) are veteran’s benefits for
    a non service connected disability.

    Most VA benefits and pensions are based on a disability which was
    incurred during a veteran’s wartime service. There is another
    benefit, however – a pension
    program – available for individuals who are disabled due to the
    issues of old age, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple
    sclerosis, and other physical disabilities. For those veterans and
    widows (ers) who are eligible, these benefits can be a blessing for
    the disabled individual who is not yet ready for a nursing home.

    There is a specific portion of the pension program which is of
    particular importance. This program is “Aid and Attendance” (A and
    A) and is available to a veteran who is not only disabled, but has
    the additional requirement of needing the aid and attendance of
    another person in order to avoid the hazards of his or her daily
    environment (in other words, someone needs to help you to prepare
    meals, to bathe, to dress and otherwise take care of yourself).

    Under this program, a veteran can receive a maximum of $1,842.00
    per month in benefits and a widow or widower can receive up to
    $998.00 as a maximum benefit for A and A for the year 2008. The
    applicant must be determined to be “permanently and totally
    disabled”. The applicant does not need to be helpless he/she
    need only show that he/she is in need of aid and attendance on a
    regular basis. Someone who is housebound or is in an assisted
    living facility and over the age of 65 is presumed by the Veterans
    Administration to be in need of aid and attendance.

    This particular program has limitations related to the income and
    assets that are held by the applicant. However, in computing the
    income of the applicant, certain items can be deducted.
    Specifically, unreimbursed medical expenses (UMEs) paid by an
    individual may be used to reduce the applicant’s income. Home
    attendants or aides are an allowable medical expense deduction, as
    long as that attendant is providing some medical or nursing
    services for the disabled person. The cost of an assisted living
    facility, and even part or all of the cost of an independent living
    facility, can also be an allowable medical deduction to reduce your
    gross income to a much lower net countable income that may qualify
    you for veterans’ benefits.

    Simplified Example: Bill Robert is a 66 year old veteran and, due
    to his health needs, has caregivers coming to his home for several
    hours each day. His income is $1800/month and he is paying
    caregivers $3300/month. Rather than deplete his savings of
    $45,000, he applies for a service pension through the VA. The VA
    considers the $3500/month he is paying to his caregivers
    unreimbursed medical expenses and “subtracts” the amount from his
    income. In other words, when calculating his pension, the VA
    considers his income to be negative $1500. He applies for benefits
    and is eligible for $1500/month to help him with his bills!

    To file a claim for this benefit, it is wise to seek the
    involvement of a trained Elder Law attorney. They can help you
    file your claim. They can also help you through all of the related
    issues that come up: estate planning, disability, and coordination
    of Medicaid and veterans’ benefits.

    An attorney skilled in elder law can provide a veteran and the
    veteran’s family with appropriate pre-filing consultations to
    determine the appropriate steps that must be taken to be able to
    determine if it would be right to apply for this VA benefit.

    Receving this benefit can help a person stay in their home longer
    or stay in an assisted living facility longer.

    Until next time…


    Brian Willie

  • July 27, 2009 at 7:40 am

    Qualified individuals should not wait too long before applying.

    The approval process is often a lengthy one. I believe that funds will be paid retroactively from the day of the application…but…I’ve heard that if the individual dies after approval but before funds are sent no money will be paid.

  • May 4, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    This is very useful information. I don’t believe my parents are at this stage of needing home care other than me yet, but will be all too soon. I will keep this in mind. Thank you!!