NOTE: We posted this information in November of 2011.

“ATTENTION VETERANS: Qualifying Veterans May Receive Up to $23,396* per year to help pay for Home Care, Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, Adult Day Services, etc.” said an advertisement in a recent addition of the local newspaper.  This advertisement was talking about a little known benefit through the Department of Veterans Affairs known as the VA Pension with Aid and Attendance.

As an elder law attorney who is an accredited attorney with the VA, I have seen how the benefit can help families who are facing a long term care crisis.  In fact, my grandfather is a recipient of the VA benefits.  The benefit is available to both qualifying veterans and their surviving spouses.  This program is designed to supplement the income of elderly and/or disabled veterans who gave up career opportunities to serve their country during a time of war.

Aid and Attendance is a benefit available to veterans, their spouses, widows or widowers.  This benefit is the highest level available and is designed to help offset the cost of nursing homes, assisted living communities, and personal care homes.  A claimant is in need of aid and attendance if they need regular aid and attendance from another person.  A claimant is presumed to be in need of aid and attendance if they are a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical disability.

The following is a maximum monthly benefit amount allowed for the Aid and Attendance pension level.  Benefits are paid directly to the claimant and are retroactive to the date of application. Payments are tax free.

Monthly (Approx)       Yearly (Approx)

Single Veteran      $1,644.00                 $19,736.00

Married Veteran    $1,949.00                 $23,396.00*

Surviving Spouse   $1,056.00                 $12,681.00

The VA is a large and slow organization with many complicated rules.  If their forms are not completed correctly when your application is turned, along with the right supporting documentation, it may delay your benefits for over a year.

In order to qualify for aid and attendance benefits, the veteran must have served at least 90 days consecutively on active duty (with limited exceptions), one day of which was during a period of war, discharge was other than dishonorable, veteran or widow’s physician must declare him/her in need of assistance from another individual, and veteran and spouse have limited income and net worth (excluding the primary home, car and personal belongings).

There is no hard number which the VA considers to meet the “limited net worth” test.  Instead, the VA considers the claimant’s life expectancy in determining how much a claimant can have.

In the case of assets over $30,000, it may be best to consult an elder law attorney as to how to position your estate so that you can receive these benefits.  When filling out the paperwork for VA benefits, it is best to consult with a recognized veteran’s service organization or a VA accredited attorney with a specialty in elder law.

VA benefits currently take 6-8 months to be approved, and if you don’t fill out the right forms, or don’t fill them out correctly, it may delay your benefits for a year or more.  Without the right supporting documentation, the VA may deny your claim completely.

WE CAN LEND A HAND – Our attorneys are VA accredited and can ensure that you file the rights forms to get your benefits approved in a timely manner.

Call today to learn how to get these benefits, grow your assets, and protect your family’s future.

Written by Brian G. Quinn, Attorney with Quinn Estate & Elder Law