Proudly Helping Veterans Plan For Their VA Benefits
Many Kentucky and Indiana veterans and surviving spouses of veterans may be entitled to some additional benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). These benefits are available even if the veteran did not retire from the military or suffer injuries while on duty.
The lawyers at Kentucky ElderLaw, PLLC, help many veterans and their families plan their finances regarding VA benefits.
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.
What Are The Types Of VA Benefits Available?
Two types of benefits include monthly pension and disability compensation. These are monetary benefits that can help fund at-home care, assisted living care, personal care, memory care or even nursing home care for the veteran, surviving spouse, or dependent child.
Do I Qualify For VA Disability Compensation?
To qualify for disability benefits, a disability must be 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 their condition and Agent Orange; it is presumed.
Do I Qualify For VA Pension Benefits?
VA pension benefits are available to wartime veterans or their surviving spouses who meet the VA’s service and income/asset requirements. Generally, those requirements are:
- The veteran must have served at least 90 consecutive days of active duty
- One of those days must have been during a period of wartime (as defined by the VA)
- The veteran must have received a discharge other than a dishonorable one
- The veteran and/or the surviving spouse must have limited income and assets. There is no set number with the VA. With planning, most people can meet this criterion
- The veteran must either be over age 65 or have a permanent and total disability
Once these criteria are met, additional money may be available if the veteran or surviving spouse is housebound. Housebound does not mean that a person can never leave his home, but rather that he cannot leave without assistance.
VA Aid And Attendance
A greater monthly benefit may be available if the veteran or 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, using the toileting and transferring. This is known as the VA Pension Benefit with Aid and Attendance Allowance (or often simply called “Aid and Attendance”).
VA Aid and Attendance benefits are the highest level of benefits available within the pension benefit system. The veteran may be eligible, or his or her spouse and/or dependent child.
VA Aid and Attendance benefits may pay out up to $22,577 a year for the veteran, or up to $26,766 for the veteran and spouse. For a surviving spouse or dependent child, benefits may pay up to $14,509 a year.
This benefit is needs-based, meaning it is only available for those individuals who meet income and asset requirements, as well as personal care requirements.
Learn more about VA Aid and Attendance benefits.
Why Plan For VA Benefits?
Qualifying for VA benefits often requires planning, especially since October 2018. That is when the VA changed its rules, implementing a look-back penalty similar to Medicaid’s, but for three years instead of five years.
Due to that, veterans or surviving spouses who have given a certain amount of money or other assets to anyone in the three years before applying for VA will not qualify for VA pension benefits. Kentucky ElderLaw, PLLC can advise whether such a disqualifying event has occurred and how to handle that so as to qualify for VA as soon as possible.
In addition, our attorneys 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 elder law attorney needs to evaluate what is appropriate for each family.