8 Questions to Consider When Applying for Veteran Benefits
Veteran Benefits. The phrase is thrown around but what are these benefits? Did you know that there’s a benefit available for our veterans and their spouses to assist with the overwhelming cost of health care?
VA Benefits – most people are aware that they exist but don’t know all that is offered to the men and women who have fought for our country. One such program is the Aid and Attendance Pension benefit.
What this means is that if your monthly medical expenses outweigh your monthly income, you may be eligible for tax free monies to help you pay those medical bills. But first you have to ask these questions:
1. Is my attorney accredited through the US Department of Veterans Affairs?
See, not all attorneys can help you. I am legally entitled to help Veterans or their surviving spouses obtain the financial assistance to which they are entitled. The same is true if you are a Veteran or surviving spouse of a Veteran and you are living in, or considering moving into an Assisted Living Facility or Continuing Care Retirement Community.
2. Who is eligible for the Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit?
To receive the benefit, a veteran must have served on active duty at least 90 days, at least one day of which occurred during a period designated as wartime.
3. What periods are classified As “Wartime”?
World War II: December 7, 1941 through December 31, 1946
Korean Conflict: June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955
Vietnam Era: August 5, 1964 through May 7, 1975; for veterans who served “in country” before August 5, 1964, February 28, 1961 through May 7, 1975
Gulf War: August 2, 1990 through a date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation
4. Was the veteran honorably discharged?
5. What is the age of the Veteran? Is he or she married?
6. Is this benefit only available for low income veterans?
No, rather it is based on income after reduction of specific types of recurring, unreimbursed medical and long-term care expenses paid to professionals or passed on to family members.
7. What assets are exempt and which can be transferred?
Exempt assets include your primary residence, vehicles, and difficult-to-sell property. However, some assets that are considered to be exempt by Medicaid (such as a life estate in a property) are considered to be countable by the VA.
The V A also allows assets to be transferred or converted to income in order to meet the asset test. And unlike Medicaid, there is no look-back penalty for transferring assets.
8. What is the amount of money the veteran or the veterans spouse may receive?
Currently the monthly TAX FREE benefit is:
- $1,794 per month for a qualified single veteran
- $2,127 per month if the veteran is married
- $1,152 per month for a surviving spouse of a qualified veteran
Again, these benefits are TAX FREE and do not affect taxes on other pension programs, such as Social Security income.
BUT Beware: If not done properly, it could result in the disqualification for other governmental benefit programs when you need them most. For example, improper gifting of assets within 5 years of application for Medicaid benefits for long-term care could disqualify the veteran for these benefits.
That’s why it is extremely important to seek assistance of an attorney who can develop a truly “comprehensive” plan for you; one that will not only address potential qualification for VA benefits, but also the avoidance of unnecessary court procedures, probate, and the protection of your assets for yourself, your spouse, and your children.
If you are a veteran or the spouse of the veteran and having a hard time affording the ever increasing cost of health care, give me a call to schedule your complimentary consultation.