VA Long Term Care Facilities
Any veteran who may need long-term care can apply for residence at one of the state Veterans long-term care facilities. Unfortunately, these residences usually have a waiting list for admission, and the length of the wait depends on both the individual’s condition and a priority category that the VA assigns.
VA Long Term Care Financial Resources
Many people often overlook the Veterans Administration (VA) as a financial resource when it comes to providing or paying for long-term care. The VA bases financial coverage for residents in long-term care communities on the individual’s military service record and any injury occurring during the individual’s wartime service. Priority for admission is given to veterans who suffered service connected injuries.
Non-Service Connected Pension with Aid & Attendance
This is a needs-based benefit for Veterans or surviving spouses of veterans who served at least 90 days during a qualified war period and have an “other that dishonorable” discharge. Needs-based means that a claimant must meet the financial and medical criteria for the program.
The financial criteria for this program has two parts: income and net worth. The VA will consider the monthly gross income of a claimant (and spouse) from all sources, including but not limited to Social Security, pensions, interest, long term care payments etc. Countable monthly income is reduced by subtracting allowable monthly recurring medical expenses such as Medicare premiums, other health/ dental/ vision/ LTC insurance premiums, facility and home health care costs. The VA does not consider medical expenses which only occur periodically or are not what they consider “predictable”.
The net worth part means that every asset currently under control of a claimant must be within VA guidelines. At this time, there is no set maximum that a claimant may have and be eligible. This means anything in a claimant’s name, or in a revocable trust that he or she controls, will be considered as part of the net worth. The VA will look at the whole picture of assets, income and expenses when determining whether or not a claimant is eligible for assistance.
The VA also requires medical information to be provided by a claimant’s doctor. This will be reviewed by the VA and a rating will be assessed. This rating will determine the level of benefits a claimant may qualify to receive. There are 3 rating levels that the VA may consider – pension, housebound and aid & attendance. In order to be rated at the highest level of aid & attendance, the medical documentation provided to the VA must demonstrate that the claimant requires the assistance of another person to assist with Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s). The VA recognizes ADLs to be: eating (actually placing food in the individual’s mouth), bathing, dressing and undressing (includes needing help putting on and taking off prosthetics), getting in or out of bed or a chair and toileting (incontinence or needing help with personal hygiene).
A claimant does not need to be in a nursing home to receive this benefit. They may be living at home. The VA permits the needed assistance to be provided by a child or a private worker (who can be paid), or by a spouse (who cannot be paid). They can also be in an assisted or independent living facility. For claimants in independent living, it is important to note that in 2012 the VA established specific guidelines to determine when and if rent can be considered a medical expense. This includes verification from their doctor certifying that they require a protected environment AND they must need and receive assistance with at least two (2) of the approved ADLs. As long as the expenses at the independent living facility are high enough, no payment needs to be made to someone who is rendering the assistance with the necessary ADL’s. We make sure these criteria are documented before filing an application.
Seeking Help With The Aid & Attendance Application
A Veteran Service Officer can also assist with this application, but individuals who own a house or any personal assets (such as cash or investments) are advised to seek the advice of a qualified elder law attorney who also is “accredited” with the VA.
When looking for a company or business representative to help with applying for A&A benefits from the VA, individuals should choose carefully. Many offer this assistance, but are interested primarily in selling healthcare services or insurance products in addition to helping with the application. A VA-accredited elder law attorney will usually have no financial interest in the outcome of an application for A&A benefits. Further, the VA-accredited elder law attorney will also be able to provide guidance with the various techniques to protect your assets which will put you in the position to obtain this benefit that you may not be currently eligible to receive. Should you file too soon and are rejected due to your assets, you may find that you have to wait a year to reapply or the VA may still count prior assets toward eligibility.
Our attorneys at Beck Estate Planning & Elder Law, LLC, are not interested in selling you healthcare or insurance products. If you require such a product, we will gladly refer you to an appropriate professional. If we help you file an A&A application, please note that nothing will be filed until we are certain that you meet all financial criteria. Potential eligibility is the next month after we first submit. The VA has no time limit on when they must process an application so it could be several months before notification is mailed to you. The good news is that, assuming you are approved, you will receive retroactive payment from the VA from the time your application was submitted.
Qualifying War Periods
- World War II (December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946)
- Korean Conflict (June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955)
- Vietnam Era (February 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975 for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period; otherwise August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975)
- Gulf War (August 2, 1990 – through a future date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation
2018 Maximum Pension Amounts for Aid and Attendance
- Single Veteran – $1,830.00 Per Month
- Married Veteran – $2,169.00 Per Month
- Widowed Spouse – $1,176.00 Per Month
- Veteran Married to Veteran – $2,903.00 Per Month
Helping our clients obtain Veterans pension benefits is just part of the asset protection strategies we employ here at Beck Estate Planning & Elder Law, LLC. Call us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation.