VA Benefits and Planning

Many Kentucky veterans and surviving spouses of veterans may be entitled to some additional benefits through the veterans’ Administration [VA].   These benefits are available even if the veteran did not retire from the military or suffer injuries while on duty.  The two types of benefits include a monthly pension and disability compensation.  These are monetary benefits that can help fund at-home care, assisted living, personal care, memory care, or even nursing home care for the veteran and his family, including his surviving spouse.

The first type of benefits mentioned above is Disability Compensation benefits. These disabilities are service-connected and there are no income or asset qualifications for the veteran.  The veteran is assigned a percentage of disability based on his service-connected condition and given a monetary award monthly.  For Vietnam-era veterans, some conditions are presumptively related to Agent Orange exposure.  This means that many Vietnam veterans with conditions like Type II Diabetes, Ischemic Heart Disease, certain types of Lymphoma, and Prostate Cancer may be eligible for Disability Compensation.  The veteran does not have to prove a causal connection between his condition and Agent Orange: It is presumed.

The type of veterans\’ benefit the attorneys at Kentucky ElderLaw work with is VA Pension Benefits for a veteran or his/her surviving spouse.  The Basic Pension is available to war-time veterans or their surviving spouses who meet the VA’s service and income/asset requirements.  Generally, those requirements are:

  1. The veteran must have served at least 90 consecutive days of active duty;
  2. One of those days must have been during a period of war-time (as defined by the VA);
  3. The veteran must have received a discharge other than a dishonorable one;
  4. The veteran and/or his surviving spouse must have limited income and assets.  There is no set number with the VA.  With planning, most persons can meet this criteria.
  5. The veteran must either be over age 65 or have a permanent and total disability.

Once this criteria is met, additional money may be available if the veteran or his/her surviving spouse is housebound.  Housebound does not mean that a person can never leave their home, but rather that they cannot leave without assistance.   A greater monthly benefit may be available if the veteran or his/her surviving spouse requires assistance to perform at least two activities of daily living.  The activities of daily living for VA purposes include activities such as bathing, dressing, feeding , toileting, and transferring. This is known as the VA Pension Benefit with Aid and Attendance Allowance.

Qualifying for VA benefits often requires planning.  The attorneys at Kentucky ElderLaw are sensitive to the effects VA planning has on potential Medicaid benefits in the future.  VA planning, if done incorrectly, can be damaging financially if Nursing Home care is later needed, as is often the case.  The use of annuities and irrevocable trusts can create short term gain with much greater long term loss.  An elderlaw attorney needs to evaluate what is appropriate for each family.  If you hire the attorneys at Kentucky ElderLaw, PLLC for planning, you will receive a comprehensive plan for both VA and Medicaid benefits for your family’s unique set of circumstances.

Call today for a free consultation with our attorneys to see what VA and Medicaid benefits could be available to you and your family.

(502) 581-1111