Part of our elder law practice includes accessing government benefits to assist with our client's healthcare costs. Assisted living, in-home care and other medical costs can get very expensive as we age and the government may be of assistance at times.
One source that may assist our clients is the Veterans Administration and their pension program. Generally known as "Improved Pension Benefit" or "Aid & Attendance", this benefit helps to pay for extraordinary medical costs, which can include doctor's bills, hospital visits and medicines, for the elderly veteran and/or spouse. This program can provide a great deal of safety to our aging population. Importantly, the VA Pension program can help a veteran stay at home longer or can provide care to keep the veteran (and/or spouse) in an assisted living facility or nursing home.
In order to receive money from the VA, the veteran, or his or her surviving spouse, must generally meet the following requirements:
- An honorable discharge as shown through discharge papers;
- Significant medical costs such as assisted living or in-home care;
- Assets must meet an asset level test based upon age;
- The veteran must have served ninety (90) days of active duty with at least one (1) day during a time of armed conflict:
World War II Dec. 7, 1941-Dec. 31, 1946
Korean Conflict June 27, 1950-Jan. 31, 1955
Vietnam War Feb. 2, 1961- May 7, 1975
The VA Pension program (including "Aid and Attendance") can provide cash assistance ranging from $1,000 to $2,000/month, depending on a variety of factors.
As part of our life care planning practice, we consider one's eligibility for VA benefits when the client needs to stay in assisted living. The amount received will help our client stay in a less restrictive setting longer than a client with Medicaid benefits that are generally more difficult to access.
The goal, in our office, is to combine proper estate planning with all eligible government benefits, such as Medicaid and VA Benefits, to enable our clients to have the best care in the most appropriate setting and to ensure that care lasts as long as it is needed.