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Veteran's Benefits that Increase Income to Pay for Long term Care

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Two types of little-known Veteran’s Benefits may provide critical benefits to those who need assistance with health care costs: Housebound benefits and Aid & Attendance benefits. Eligibility rules for these benefits are more flexible than those for Medicaid or other public benefits, and are also available to qualified surviving spouses and dependents of a veteran.

In addition to meeting requirements regarding active duty service and disability, an applicant must meet medical and financial criteria:

DETERMINING ELIGIBILITY

Medical Criteria:

Housebound benefits are available to a veteran or widow(er) of a veteran who meets certain conditions of disability and is confined to the home. People age 65 or older are presumed to be disabled, and simply must meet financial and military service eligibility requirements.

Aid & Attendance benefits are available to a veteran or widow(er) of a veteran who meets certain disability conditions. Notably, the applicant is presumed to need Aid and Attendance if living in an assisted living facility.

Financial Criteria:

    Income

The 2008 permissible family income limits range from $763 to $1,427 (for Housebound benefits) and $998 to $1,842 (for Aid & Attendance benefits), depending on whether benefits are for a widow(er) and whether there are dependents.
 
Unreimbursed medical expenses (including home health care, assisted living facility, or skilled nursing home costs) may be used to reduce countable income.

Assuming the applicant is eligible, the VA uses a formula to determine the amount of the monthly benefit, based on the sources of income and out-of-pocket medical expenses. 




    Assets

The VA considers an individual’s net worth, excluding his/her home, to determine whether the person has “sufficient means” to pay for his/her own care. There is no specified resource limit; however, a commonly used resource limit is $80,000 or less in assets, whether married or single. Nevertheless, because the VA now uses “age analysis” to determine financial need, a 98-year old who has $75,000 may not be eligible, whereas a 78-year old who has $75,000 may be considered eligible. 

There is no look-back period in determining financial eligibility for applicants of these VA benefit programs.  Therefore, excess resources can be gifted to family members and an application filed immediately thereafter with no effect on eligibility.

*Donald D. Vanarelli is a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation, accredited by the ABA and an Accredited Veterans Administration Attorney.  For more information, see his ad on page _____or visit his website at www.dvanarelli.com