Veterans Aid & Attendance Pension

In November each year we honor the men and women who have served in uniform.  There is no better way to do that than to help veterans and their surviving spouses obtain valuable Aid and Attendance pension benefits to pay toward their care.

Veterans Affairs Pension for Long Term Care

Aid & Attendance is a powerful VA benefit for leveraging your resources so you can afford home care or assisted living longer and for pay for nursing home care if you need it.  If you served during wartime, or if you are the surviving spouse of a veteran who did, and you need assistance with your daily activities, you probably can qualify for monthly cash pension benefits to offset your medical expenses and/or cost of care.  If you are a veteran, your benefit can be up to $1,788/month for life.  If you are a veteran with one dependent (spouse or other), your benefit can be up to $2,120/month for life.  If you are a surviving spouse, your benefit can be up to $1,149/mo for life.  The rules are complicated, but the benefits can protect your independence.

 Elder Law Strategies for VA Asset Protection

As with Medicaid (Title XIX, Title 19), Aid & Attendance has an asset limit.  The VA will evaluate your asset levels based on your age and health.  It generally is wise to reduce countable assets (everything besides your home, car, and certain trusts) to below $50,000 before applying.

Unlike Medicaid, the VA has no look-back period regarding transfers of assets (although they have proposed creating one sometime soon).  Therefore, you can protect your assets by transferring them to family members, Irrevocable Asset Protection Trusts, or irrevocable annuities, or converting exposed assets to exempt assets.  Appreciated assets (house, stocks) and tax-deferred assets (IRA, 401(k) accounts), require careful planning to minimize capital gains upon sale (either before or after your death) and income taxes along the way.

And remember, assets transferred to your children can be exposed to their whims and creditors, and assets which are annuitized will be illiquid permanently.   For those reasons, many clients choose to make transfers to a trust, so that assets are protected from their children’s creditors, can be kept liquid for future needs, and can avoid capital gains tax upon sale.

 VA Excess Income Protection

The VA pension equals the maximum benefit allowable minus your countable household income.  For example, a married veteran will receive $2,120 minus the couple’s combined income.  Countable income equals your gross household income (everything you think of as income) minus household medical expenses and costs of care.  Therefore, many veterans and surviving spouses can qualify through deducting medical and care expenses, whether in the form of home care, assisted living, and nursing home care.  You can even deduct care provided by a family member under a Personal Services Contract.  If a married veteran and his or her spouse have such expenses totaling $2,120 or more per month, the VA will pay the full maximum benefit of $2,120/month.  The greater the deductions, the greater the pension benefit amount!

 Connecticut Medicaid (Title XIX, Title 19)

The rules regarding transfers of assets, trusts and annuities are different under VA and Medicaid law, so consult with a lawyer who is expert in both areas so you don’t have a problem on a future Medicaid application.

 Danbury, Connecticut Accredited Veterans Affairs (VA) Elder Law Attorneys

The issues related to any claim must be thought through completely before filing a claim, and the documentation must be prepared carefully and thoroughly, because only a complete claim can be processed through the expedited Fully Developed Claims process.  If there is any omission or issue for which the VA feels the need for additional information or documentation, the VA will transfer the claim into their “development” process, which can take several additional months to approve.  Attorneys Tom and Michele Murphy are accredited claims attorneys with the Department of Veterans Affairs and file claims with the VA as a major part of their practice.  We would be honored to assist any veteran who has proudly served and their surviving spouses.

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