Pittsburgh-area veterans and their family members may be able to qualify for extra money from the VA for long-term care expenses.
The VA has a little-known benefit commonly referred to as “Aid & Attendance” which can provide the veteran, spouse of the veteran, or widow/widower of the veteran with a monthly payment to help cover the costs of care. This is done through an enhanced pension that is triggered when an eligible person has unreimbursed long-term care expenses (i.e., expenses for home care, assisted living or nursing home care) that consume part or all of their income on a monthly basis.
Eligibility is based on a 4-prong test that looks at the service of the veteran, the need for care, net worth, and monthly income and expenses. The claim is only available for a veteran (and his/her spouse or widow/widower) who served during wartime. One of the biggest misconceptions about this benefit is that the veteran had to serve in combat, which is not the case. The claimant must be over 65 and based the claim on the veteran who must have completed at least 90 days of service, with only 1 day during a declared period of war and received an honorable discharge.
In 2018 the VA made the eligibility rules much more difficult to qualify for the Aid & Attendance benefit, but many still can qualify. The VA has put in a 3-year lookback on the transfer of assets in order to reduce net worth within eligibility limits – creating the first-ever VA spenddown; however, there are strategies to help qualify for this benefit. 2020 VA Aid & Attendance award amounts range from $1,228 to $3,032.
While not enough to cover the full cost of care in a nursing home, the benefit can help pay for home care or assisted living. The benefit can even be used to pay a non-spouse family member. Additionally, many seniors use the Aid & Attendance benefit to pay for care while they are waiting out the 5-year lookback for transfer of assets for Medicaid. Because the VA lookback is only 3 years, any transfers made to qualify for Medicaid could result in the veteran being eligible for VA Aid & Attendance for 2 years before being eligible for Medicaid.
Goldblum & Sablowsky specializes in helping clients restructure assets to qualify for the VA Aid & Attendance benefit or determine if pursuing Aid & Attendance is the best strategy for to help pay for the cost of long-term care. To speak with a member of the firm to see if Aid & Attendance is right for you, click here.