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Helping Veterans Obtain Benefits for

Long Term Care Costs

By: Robin Cochran Kruger

© 2013

According to the U. S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, there are over 22 million veterans and over 9 million surviving spouses of veterans currently living in the United States. Many of these veterans and surviving spouses will need some type of long term care in the near future, and the good news is that there are specific funds available from the Veterans Administration (“VA”) to help provide monthly income to pay for the long term care. Unfortunately, many deserving veterans who are eligible have no idea that any type of benefits exist for them or that a qualified attorney can help them plan and efficiently determine their eligibility.

Benefits Available
There are three types of benefits available that provide a monthly cash payment to veterans who have long term health care needs that are briefly summarized as follows:
1. Service Pension. The VA provides monthly cash payment to wartime veterans who meet active duty and discharge requirements, who are either 65 or older or disabled, and who have limited income and assets. Service pension is also available to a surviving spouse of a wartime veteran. An unmarried veteran can receive up to $985 per month, a married veteran can receive up to $1291 per month, and a surviving spouse can receive up to $661 per month (with additional payments available if dependent children are present in the home).

2. Pension with Housebound Allowance. A slightly higher monthly payment is available to wartime veterans (who meet the same service requirements as Service Pension) but who are confined to their home for medical reasons. An unmarried veteran can receive up to $1269.42 per month, a married veteran can receive up to $1591 per month, and a surviving spouse can receive up to $828 per month (with additional payments available if dependent children are present in the home).

3. Pension with Aid and Attendance. The highest monthly benefit is available when a wartime veteran or surviving spouse requires the assistance of another person to perform activities of daily living, is blind or nearly so, or is a patient in a nursing home. This benefit, often referred to simply as “Aid and Attendance” is the most widely known and talked-about benefit as it offers the highest possible monthly payment. An unmarried veteran can receive up to $1732 per month, a married veteran can receive up to $2054 per month, and a surviving spouse can receive up to $1113 per month (with additional payments available if dependent children are present in the home).
Prerequisites:
Wartime Service. As noted above, a veteran must first meet certain service and discharge requirements before being considered for any type of pension benefit. A veteran must have served 180 days of active duty with at least one day beginning or ending during a period of war. In addition, the veteran must have been discharged under circumstances other than dishonorable.

Asset, Income and Expense Requirements
The financial eligibility requirements of any pension benefit address a claimant’s net worth and income. The VA looks at a claimant’s total net worth, life expectancy, income and medical expenses to determine whether the veteran or surviving spouse is entitled to special monthly pension benefits.

In addition, a veteran or surviving spouse must have Income for VA Purposes (“IVAP”) that is less than the benefit for which he or she is applying. IVAP is calculated by taking a claimant’s gross income from all sources less countable medical expenses. Countable medical expenses are recurring out-of-pocket medical expenses that can be expected to continue throughout a claimant’s lifetime. If a claimant’s IVAP is equal to or greater than the annual benefit amount, the veteran or surviving spouse is not eligible for benefits.

Get Help from Trusted Professional

Unfortunately, the VA eligibility rules and application requirements are complicated and cumbersome. Consulting with an experienced attorney can help with pro active planning in the application process and provide the guidance needed to obtain these important benefits.