CHICAGO, IL – Are you or a loved one a veteran or a surviving spouse? The VA offers many benefits; however, there are hundreds of thousands of veterans and/or surviving spouses that are eligible for these little-known VA benefits. These funds are used for assisted living at many facilities and for at-home care. Please consult an adviser to see if you or a loved one qualifies for the following VA benefits.
There are three levels of VA benefits called Pensions:
- Basic Pension/Improved Income – healthy veterans with low incomes over the age of 65
- Aid & Attendance – veterans over the age of 65 that require assistance with daily living activities
- Housebound – veterans with a disabling rate of 100% that prevents them from leaving their home, but doesn’t have to be related to their military service
Aid & Attendance and Housebound pension benefits provide an additional monthly income over and above the Basic Monthly pension. To be eligible for either pension, the individual must meet the requirements for Basic Pension. The Aid & Attendance Pension benefits eligible veterans and their surviving spouses, or just the spouse in the event of a veteran’s death, to pay for the assistance they need in an everyday function. This includes eating, bathing, dressing, and medication management.
It’s important to note that potential eligibility conflicts between pensions and other assistance may arise. There are complex financial considerations for Aid & Attendance eligibility; however, the general requirements listed below must be met by the veteran or the surviving spouse:
- Age – Veterans or surviving spouses must be 65 years old, or officially disabled if younger
- Period of Military Service – Veterans must be considered “war time” veterans, meaning they served at least 90 days and served at least 1 day during the wartime dates listed below; this does not necessarily mean in combat:
- World War II: Dec. 7, 1941 – Dec. 31, 1946
- Korean War: June 27, 1950 – Jan. 31 – 1955
- Vietnam War: Aug. 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975 (or Feb. 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975 for Veterans who served in Vietnam)
- Gulf War: Aug. 2, 1990 – Undetermined
- Discharge Status – Veterans cannot have been dishonorably discharged.
- Disability Status – Veterans are eligible without a disability; however, a higher benefit is available to those who are disabled.
- Aid & Assistance Eligibility – veteran must require help with daily activities at home, in nursing homes, or assisted living. The need for that help does not have to be related to service in the military.
- Housebound Eligibility – veteran needs to have the disability rating of 100% that prevents them from leaving their home. The disability does not have to be related to their military service.
- Basic Pension/Improved Income Eligibility – no disability requirement.
- Marriage Rules – a surviving spouse must have been living with the veteran at the time of their death and must be single at the time of a claim.
Medical-related expenses include skilled nursing, assisted living, adult day centers, and at-home care. Medicare and other insurance premiums, as well as prescriptions that may not be covered by insurance, should be included as medical-related expenses. Please check out how the VA calculates income here.
When calculating assets, the VA allows a veteran to deduct the value of their homes and vehicles; in addition, the VA looks at the applicant’s overall net worth in addition to their income. Net worth accounted for includes assets in bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and property, plus furnishings and personal effects, such as clothing.
VA Pensions can be used to pay family members who are the caregiver of a veteran or survivor (with the exception of spouses). Care expenses can be deducted from their income. Veterans’ spouses are not considered since joint income is calculated as household income.
The downside to these VA Pensions is it can be a lengthy process. Applicants can expect to wait 9-12 months before receiving their benefits; however, there are loans available to help pay for care while claims are being processed. Please consult an adviser to learn more about VA Pensions and Benefits.