As a former 1st Lieutenant in the United States Army, Beck Estate Planning & Elder Law’s founding attorney, Rudy Beck, considers it a privilege to help our nation’s veterans obtain Veterans Benefits, long-term care and pension benefits. For that reason, helping veterans and their spouses with the Aid and Attendance (A&A) pension is one of our specialties. Our St. Charles-based firm is accredited by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and has successfully submitted more than 1,850 A&A applications.
In assisting with your application, we can also provide guidance on various techniques to protect your assets. This could include identifying a strategy to obtain any additional benefits you may not currently be eligible to receive.
With the complexities of the eligibility requirements for A&A pension in mind, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with the VA-accredited elder law attorneys at Beck Estate Planning & Elder Law.
Veterans Administration Resources for Long-Term Care
Many people overlook the VA as a financial resource when it comes to providing or paying for long-term care, with options including:
Long-Term Care Facilities
Any veteran who may need long-term care can apply for residence at one of the State Veterans Homes, including the Missouri Veterans Homes. 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.
Long-Term Care Financial Aid
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.
Our attorneys at Beck Estate Planning & Elder Law, LLC, are not interested in selling you healthcare, insurance or other financial products that exist outside of the VA. If you require such a product, we will gladly refer you to an appropriate professional.
Non-Service Connected Pension with Aid & Attendance (A&A)
A&A is a needs-based benefit for veterans (or their surviving spouses) who served at least 90 days of active duty with at least one day during a qualified war period, and have an “other than dishonorable” discharge. Because the program is needs-based, claimants must meet the program’s financial and medical criteria.
A&A Financial Criteria*
*Significant updates as of October 18, 2018
Eligibility is determined by a claimant’s net worth, defined as the sum of all countable assets plus their annual gross income, less annual unreimbursed medical expenses. The claimant is eligible for the A&A benefit if their net worth is less than or equal to $127,061. If net worth exceeds this amount, the claimant is ineligible.
The VA will consider the annual gross income of a claimant (and spouse, if applicable) from all sources, which can include, but is not limited to:
- Social Security
- Long-Term Care Payments
In calculating annual gross income, allowable net unreimbursed medical expenses are subtracted, including:
- Medicare premiums
- Health, dental, vision and/or long-term care insurance premiums
- Home health care or facility expenses
- Exceptions: The VA does not consider medical expenses which only occur periodically, or are not what they consider “predictable.”
Another significant change as of October 2018 is that the VA has implemented a three-year lookback on any gifts or transfers of countable assets. Transfers may or may not affect a claimant’s eligibility.
A&A Medical Criteria
The VA 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 three rating levels that the VA may consider:
- Aid & Attendance
In order to be rated at the highest level of Aid & Attendance, medical documentation provided to the VA must demonstrate that the claimant requires another person to assist with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). The VA recognizes ADLs to be:
- Eating – Actually placing food in the individual’s mouth
- Dressing and undressing – Includes needing help putting on and taking off prosthetics
- Getting in or out of bed or a chair
- Toileting – Incontinence or needing help with personal hygiene
The VA also now recognizes cognitive disorders as a disability that may qualify someone for A&A pension benefits.
A claimant does not need to be in a nursing home to receive this benefit for veterans. 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. He or she can also be in an independent or assisted living community.
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. In addition, the independent living facility is now required to have a caregiver in the building 24 hours/day. As accredited agents, our Veterans Benefits attorneys and staff make sure all requirements are considered and documented before filing an application.
If Beck Estate Planning & Elder Law helps you with your Veterans Benefits by filing an A&A application, please note that nothing will be filed until we are certain that you meet all financial criteria. It is important to note that 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, the VA will send payment retroactive to the time your application was submitted.
VA Aid & Attendance Pension Amounts
2019 Maximum Rates*
Claimant: Single Veteran
- Annual Maximum: $22,577
- Monthly Maximum: $1,881
Claimant: Married Veteran
- Annual Maximum: $26,766
- Monthly Maximum: $2,230
Claimant: Surviving Spouse
- Annual Maximum: $14,509
- Monthly Maximum: $1,209
Claimants: Veteran Married to a Veteran
- Annual Maximum: $35,813
- Monthly Maximum: $2,984
*Pension amount awarded is dependent upon Claimant’s unique situation
Veterans Benefits Resources and Helpful Links
Our firm has put together a helpful flyer that includes information about non-service connected benefits. This flyer appears on our website, which you can access by clicking here.
Below are other helpful links to the VA website and the Missouri Veterans Commission:
- Eligible Wartime Periods: The VA recognizes specific wartime periods, including World War II and Vietnam, to determine eligibility for VA Pension benefits. The complete list of wartime periods and dates are listed on the VA website, which you can access by clicking here.
- Benefits Rate Table: The VA has provided a Benefits Rate Table to show the maximum compensation available to veterans based on their dependent status. This table appears on the VA website, which you can access by clicking here.
- Missouri Veterans Homes Program: The Missouri Department of Public Safety (MODPS) Veterans Commission provides eligibility requirements for the Veterans Homes Program on their website, which you can access by clicking here.
Seeking Help with the Aid & Attendance Application
A Veteran Service Officer can assist with the A&A application, but veterans who own a house or any personal assets should consult a qualified, VA-accredited attorney.
Beck Estate Planning & Elder Law in St. Charles, Mo., is an accredited law firm with the Department of Veteran Affairs. If you need assistance in qualifying for the Aid & Attendance pension, contact our office today to learn more about our expertise in VA Long-Term Care and Pensions.
To schedule your free consultation with a Veterans Benefits attorney, click here.