What Are Veterans Benefits? (Transcript)
D. "Rep" DeLoach III, Estate Planning and Board Certified Elder Law Attorney
VA benefits can be very helpful for the veteran, and the veteran basically is going to have to be a wartime veteran. They served during a time of war. They have a few guidelines and they have to have had a discharge that was other than dishonorable. Or, if you're a surviving spouse of a wartime veteran, then the VA has benefits that can help pay for the veteran or the surviving spouse for the wartime veteran's long-term care as well. And this is where it gets very interesting.
So, they have a program that the VA referred to as pension and out in the public, most people referred to as Aid and Attendance. That's a level of VA benefits, so if a veteran is needy, they basically have below a certain level of assets and income and they need long-term care. So, if they need long-term care at home maybe, or they need long-term care in an assisted living facility in particular, there are some that still apply as well, but it's basically we look more so towards an in-home care or assisted living benefits, but the VA can help pay for someone's long-term care. And here, what's really great, it's a cash benefit, so if a veteran qualifies and they need assisted living care, and if they're married, the VA can pay up to $2,200 a month to help pay for their care in the assisted living facility. If they're a single veteran, they can get up to $1,800 a month to pay for pension, their pension to pay for their long-term care. And if they're the surviving spouse of a wartime veteran, they're allowed to have over $1,200. The VA can pay the surviving spouse over $1,200 a month to pay for their long-term care.
The assets that the veteran or the surviving spouse have has to be less than $123,000. So their bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, they have an asset test for these veterans as well, the assets have to be less than $123,000 which went into effect in October of 2018.
The other rule that the VA enacted in October is you can't give your money away in order to protect it. So now there's a three year VA benefits look back. It's a five year Medicaid benefits look back period that you can't give your assets away within five years of applying for Medicaid and there's now a three year VA benefits look back, but if Dad or Mom is a veteran or the surviving spouse, a veteran, if they're in assisted living, then the VA pension benefits can be wonderful because the Medicaid, as we said earlier, Medicaid's not great for paying for assisted living benefits, but the VA is. You can get Medicaid and VA benefits at the same time, but if you don't know this benefit is out there. If you don't know that Mom is a surviving spouse of a veteran could get $1,200 a month and Mom's in an assisted living facility at $3,000 a month, $1,200 a month goes a long way to help pay for their care.