Our nation’s veterans have worked heroically to protect and defend our county, some of whom have made the greatest sacrifice for others. Since these brave men and woman have risked their life and health for our nation, they should be thanked by receiving the benefits they need and deserve. One of the benefit programs offered to our nation’s heroes is called Aid & Attendance and is offered through the Veterans Administration. (See Aid & Attendance and Housebound for more information). There are certain eligibility requirements, (see Veteran Aid for more information) but many veterans and their families are unaware that they may be entitled to receive assistance for their care under this pension program.
Planning for Aid & Attendance benefits is crucial to ensure the veteran applicant receives the maximum benefit amounts to help pay for their care. The experienced VA-Accredited attorneys at the law firm of Gorman & Jones, PLC, in Tampa, Florida can help assist in the planning and application process for Aid & Attendance benefits for our veterans in need.
The office of Veterans Administration offers a pension program, called Aid & Attendance, to help veterans and their families afford to pay for senior care. As of December 2018, a veteran who meets the eligibility requirements for Aid & Attendance benefits can receive up to $1,881.00 every month to help pay for their care. Additionally, a married veteran can receive up to $2,230.00 every month and a surviving spouse of a veteran can receive up to $1,209.00 every month to pay for care. This care can be in-home care, assisted living care, or nursing home care.
There are certain eligibility requirements for Aid & Attendance benefits. These include services requirements, income requirements, age requirement, and needs requirements.
A veteran applicant will satisfy the service requirement for Aid & Attendance benefits if they have served at least 90 days of active duty. At least one of these days must have occurred during wartime. Additionally, the veteran must have been discharged from the military in any manner other than receiving a dishonorable discharge. The following chart further details the applicable “periods of wartime” for the service requirement:
|Period of War||Beginning and Ending Dates|
|World War II||12/7/1941 through 12/31/1946|
|Korean Conflict||5/27/1950 through 1/31/1955|
|Vietnam Era||For veterans who served “in country” 2/28/1961 through 5/7/1975|
|Gulf War||8/2/1990 through a date to set by law or Presidential Proclamation|
A veteran, or their surviving spouse, must have a need for receiving such Aid & Attendance benefits. This means that the applicant must require assistance with their everyday living, known as “Activities of Daily Living.” These can include needing assistance with feeding themselves, clothing themselves, going to the bathroom, or other everyday activities vital to daily living. This requirement will be satisfied if the applicant lives in a skilled nursing home or in an assisted living facility.
A veteran applicant, or their surviving applicant spouse, must be 65 years of age or older or is officially disabled if they are younger than 65 years of age.
A veteran applicant, and their spouse (if any), must have a countable income which is less than their eligible pension amount. It is important to note that the VA permits applicants to deduct certain income from their countable income, like Florida Medicaid, which can help the applicant satisfy the income requirement. There are certain sources of income that are counted (such as IRA withdrawals, 401K withdrawals, Social Security Disability, wages, alimony, etc.) and other sources of income that are not counted (such as family assistance, Medicaid payments, VA Pensions, long term care reimbursements, etc.). Therefore, discussing your eligibility due to income is an important aspect to meeting the Aid & Attendance eligibility requirements. The assistance of a VA-Accredited attorney, such as the attorneys at Gorman & Jones, PLC, should be trusted to assist you in this process.
As of 2018’s requirements, an Aid & Attendance applicant must have a net worth under $123,600.00 (which is like Florida’s Medicaid requirement). This limit is for a single veteran applicant as well as a married couple. If an applicant exceeds the asset limitations, there are actions that can be taken which would allow an Aid & Attendance applicant to meet the asset requirement, such as creating and funding an irrevocable trust to hold their disqualifying assets.
It is crucial to recognize that, as of October 18, 2018, the VA has initiated a 36-month “look back” period for asset transfers of an Aid & Attendance applicant. This means that the VA will examine transfers of the applicant’s assets in the 36 months leading up to the date the application was submitted. The reason for this look back period is to allow the VA to see whether the Aid & Attendance applicant has given away assets in an attempt to meet the VA’s Aid & Attendance asset requirement. If the examination reveals that the applicant has gifted or sold assets for substantially less value than they are worth, the applicant will be subject to a penalty period in which they will not be able to receive their Aid & Attendance benefits if they meet the other eligibility requirements.ž
A common issue that many Aid & Attendance applicants face involves having too many assets which disqualify them for receiving the Aid & Attendance pension benefits for their care. If this is the reason why you or a loved one is currently ineligible for receiving Aid & Attendance benefits, there is still hope for receiving the benefits under this program. With the assistance of the skilled elder law and VA-Accredited attorneys at Gorman & Jones, PLC, a plan can be formed which will help you and your loved one meet the eligibility requirements for Aid & Attendance pension benefits for care.
One way that you can meet the eligibility requirements is to rearrange your assets or income in a manner which would allow you to qualify. This could include transferring title to certain assets, strategically gifting assets or income, or to create an irrevocable trust to hold title to your assets or income. Although all these actions are methods used to achieve eligibility, they are all subject to the 36-month look back period instituted by the VA and any transfers made on or after October 18, 2018 will be scrutinized. Therefore, is it of utmost importance to hire an experienced irrevocable trust attorney who has extensive knowledge of Aid & Attendance eligibility, such as the attorneys at Gorman & Jones, PLC, to assist in the creation and funding of your irrevocable trust for Aid & Attendance pension benefit purposes. Call our office today at (813) 856-5625 to discuss your eligibility and options, including the impact of the 36-month look back period on your Aid & Attendance planning.
Only attorneys, agents, and Veteran Service Organizations who are VA Accredited may represent an Aid & Attendance applicant. At the law firm of Gorman & Jones, PLC, you can be assured that VA-Accreditation is not at issue because you will work directly with a VA-Accredited attorney to assist you in your Aid & Attendance application. The attorneys and staff at Gorman & Jones, PLC have a special connection to our nation’s veterans, as most of our attorneys and staff members are also family members of wartime veterans.
Contact the law offices of Gorman & Jones, PLC in Tampa at (813) 856-5625 for a free initial consultation to discuss your Aid & Attendance eligibility and determine the best time to submit your application.
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