2018 Changes – VA Pension With Aid and Attendance

Matt:
Welcome back everyone. It is time now for Money Matters Monday. Now listen up. If you are a veteran, or the spouse of a veteran, or you know someone in that camp, you may be able to qualify for a program called Aid and Attendance. Brian Quinn is a partner with Quinn Estate and Elder Law LLC and part of the Securus Circle of Advisors, and he joins us this morning with some more information. How are you Brian? Nice to see you.

Brian:
I’m doing well, Matt. Good to see you.

Matt:
Good to see you. So Aid and Attendance, it’s called. How does one know if they’re even eligible and should they take advantage of it if they are?

Brian:
Yeah, there’s two big programs through the Department of Veterans Affairs, Aid and Attendance being on of the main ones that our office works with. It’s available to veterans and the surviving spouses of veterans that served during a period of war, have some health issues, and have limited income and assets as well. Pays a monthly amount. For a married veteran, it’s about $2,100 per month. That’s a tax free benefit.

Matt:
Tax free. That’s an important factoid to consider here.

Brian:
And for a surviving spouse, it’s around $1,100 per month. So it’s something that can help to fray the costs of assisted living, nursing homes, healthcare, really any level of care that you find yourself in.

Matt:
How difficult a road is it to navigate to acquire those benefits?

Brian:
I would’ve said about a month ago that, although it’s difficult, it’s definitely doable. The VA actually just came out with new regulations that went into effect last Wednesday. Or no, last Thursday, that make it quite a bit more difficult to deal with. The Aid and Attendance Program is based on how much net worth you have, and so previously, the Department of Veterans Affairs would allow you to restructure your estate almost immediately in ways that you could qualify.

Brian:
Now, they’re implementing what is a Medicaid, like, look back period, meaning they’re going to look at anything that you’ve done in the last three years, so it’s really crucially important to get professional advice now, before applying.

Matt:
Because the waters a little muddier now than they were a couple of months ago.

Brian:
Oh, absolutely.

Matt:
Could you foresee a scenario where someone might be eligible for these benefits, but it would actually be to their detriment to take them? In other words, they’d be better off, maybe because of tax consequences, or what have you, to leave them on the table?

Brian:
Well, the good thing is that since it’s a tax free benefit, it takes the tax consequences off the table. Sometimes, in the planning process, it does require individuals to restructure their estate in ways that they do have to lose control of certain assets. But actually, one good thing about the change in the VA regulations is they have, even though they’ve imposed this look back period, they’ve allowed veterans and their spouses to keep much more in the way of assets, so they’ve actually increased the net worth limitation to a certain extent.

Brian:
So, I would say that although the waters can be treacherous if you don’t have professional advice, now’s actually a really good time because there’s a lot more people that are eligible immediately for it, than were before.

Matt:
I think we always talk about it. We never do anything about it, but we very much talk about how these, this is an underserved part of the aging population.

Brian:
Oh, absolutely.

Matt:
And they’ve given so much dedication and service to our country. Tax free benefit. You don’t want to leave that sitting on the table. But it can be complicated, so check with an expert. Brian, thank you so much.

Brian:
Thank you, Matt.

Matt:
Appreciate it. Aid and Attendance. If you’d like to get in touch with …

2018-12-27T17:26:58+00:00October 23rd, 2018|