Veterans Benefits

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A veteran and their surviving spouse or widow/widower may be eligible for monthly cash payments as a result of a veteran’s wartime service (“pension”) or because a veteran suffered a permanent debilitating injury as the result of service (“compensation”).  Improved Pension allowances (“aid and attendance” or “housebound”) are available when a veteran or surviving spouse or widow/widower requires ongoing medical care to assist with activities of daily living, and can be used for home care, assisted living and nursing care.

There are qualification rules, and income and net worth limits in order to qualify for Improved Pension allowances.

Qualification Rules

  • The veteran must have served at least 1 day in the military during a war period (not necessarily in the war zone).
  • The veteran must have served 90 days of consecutive service (longer after the Vietnam War).
  • The veteran must have received a better than dishonorable discharge.
  • The veteran must be over 65.
  • The widow/widower of a veteran must have been married to the veteran at the veteran’s death, must have been married at least 12 months unless they had a child, and cannot have remarried.

Income Limits

  • There are income limits to qualify (adjusted annually) based on marital status

Married veteran – $24,650 income limit
Single veteran – $20,794 income limit
Widow/Widower – $13,360 income limit

  • The veteran’s gross income is reduced by certain medical expenses such as home care, insurance, assisted living, co-pays, supplies, etc. in calculating “Income for VA Purposes”

Net Worth Limits

  • Benefits denied if net worth is excessive
  • Allowed to have enough assets as would be reasonably expected to be utilized during the claimant’s lifetime
  • Accredited attorney does an age weighted analysis
  • Non-Countable Assets:  residence, autos, burial policies, small life insurance policies
  • Countable Assets:  gifts, inheritances, life insurance policies, annuity distributions, income from tax-free bonds
  • No asset transfer penalties for transfers prior to application

It is critical to understand that VA planning can significantly affect your eligibility for Medicaid for nursing home care and other financial assistance programs.  Therefore VA planning should not be attempted without a complete understanding of your options and opportunities not only for Veteran’s Benefits but for Medicaid as well.  You should work with an experienced Elder Law attorney who is an attorney accredited by the Veterans Administration (VA) to help you determine if you are a candidate for Veterans Benefits.

The attorneys at Keston Law are VA accredited attorneys with the knowledge and experience to assist in your planning for Veterans Benefits and Medicaid.

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