Many wartime veterans are missing out on valuable long-term care benefitsBottom Highlights, The Money Shot Thursday, June 19th, 2014
The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has been in the news quite a bit lately, and not in a good way. However, this exposure brings to mind many great things about the VA and how they support our veterans. There is one benefit in particular that I am aware of that is not being utilized by enough veterans and their families.
It’s called the Aid & Attendance Improved Pension designed specifically for wartime veterans requiring assistance to do daily tasks such as eating, dressing and bathing. This benefit can also be used to offset assisted-living costs.
The benefit provides up to $1,758 per month to a veteran, $1,130 per month to a surviving spouse or $2,085 per month to a couple. This can be a huge financial boost and greatly improve a veteran’s quality of life.
Unfortunately, many veterans aren’t aware of this benefit so it doesn’t get utilized as it should. There are less than 200,000 veterans currently receiving Aid & Attendance benefits. There are over 10 million wartime veterans that served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam still living today. Add to that the number of surviving spouses, and there are potentially millions of seniors that should be receiving this benefit right now.
How to qualify for Aid & Attendance
There are specific criteria that must be met to qualify for Aid & Attendance. First, a veteran must have at least 90 days of active duty, with one day during a period of war. These periods include World War II, Korean conflict, Vietnam era and the Persian Gulf War.
The individual applying must qualify both medically and financially. To qualify medically, a wartime veteran or surviving spouse must need the assistance of another person to perform daily tasks. Being blind or in a nursing home for mental or physical incapacity or residing in an assisted-living facility also qualifies. You do not have to be in a facility to be eligible for Aid & Attendance. The care can be provided in the home by either outside agencies or family members.
To qualify financially, an applicant must have on average less than $80,000 in assets, excluding their home and vehicles. Income has to be below a certain level that is dependent upon each veteran’s situation and medical expenses, which can be deducted from income in order to qualify.
How to apply and resources
The first step is to apply for the VA’s Basic Pension by visiting www.benefits.va.gov/pension or call the VA Pension Hotline at 877-294-6380. Many veterans may be ineligible for the Basic Pension due to the low income limits. However, the Aid & Attendance benefit has higher income limits. A veteran or surviving spouse that is ineligible for the Basic Pension may qualify for the Aid & Attendance benefit.
Any wartime veteran or surviving spouse should look into the Aid & Attendance benefit if they are receiving help for basic living needs. If you are a family member, friend or person working with veterans, talk with them about this benefit so they know it exists. Wartime veterans have earned this benefit and more need to be applying to get it.
Steve Doster is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional providing commission-free financial advice for do-it-yourself investors. You can reach Steve at Doster Financial Planning by phone 619-688-1192 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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