2012-09-28 / Columnists

Spotlight On Elderlaw

Are You A Veteran? You May Be Entitled To Extra Benefits ...
By Nancy C. Brady, RN, Esq. And Linda Faith Marshak, Esq.

Veteran’s Aid and Attendance and Housebound Improved Pension benefit is available to many veterans who do not even know they are eligible for the program. The benefits through this program can be used to help pay the costs of caregivers in the home (even certain family members can be paid). The benefit can also be used towards the cost of assisted living or nursing home care.

To be qualified, a veteran does not have to have a service related injury. The veteran must meet the following requirements: has to have served at least one day during a time of war; must require assistance with one or more activities of daily living; must qualify for basic veteran’s pension, by the veteran meeting income and asset limitations and be totally disabled (when wartime veterans turn 65 the Veteran’s Administration automatically qualifies the veteran as totally disabled)

Let’s break it down further-

Activities of daily living - typically include personal care such as bathing, dressing, grooming, ability to prepare and eat meals, and ability to use the bathroom. The applicant need not be totally dependent on the caregiver, even if partial assistance with these tasks is required, he or she may be eligible.

The asset limit is approximately $80,000; and the income limit is about $20,000 per year.

The Aid and Attendance benefit, also known as A&A can be more than half of the veteran’s basic pension amounts, and the spouse of the veteran may also be entitled to benefits. If the spouse of a veteran requires caregiver assistance, he or she may be eligible for the benefit even if the veteran does not require assistance.

The application for benefits can be complicated, and over the past few years, there have been seminars and assistance offered to educate and sometimes assist veterans in applying for the program. Be aware of scams - the VA does not allow anyone to charge to assist in applying for benefits. Financial planners may offer “free” educational meetings in the hopes of finding clients to charge for financial consultations, and to earn commissions from the products they sell.

The Aid and Attendance is not a new benefit, it is just underused. A qualifying veteran and spouse may be eligible for as much as $2000 per month; widows of veterans for up to $1000 per month. For more information check the Department of Veteran’s Affairs website, or try VeteranAid. org. The application forms are available online. The application process can take several months, but is worth your while if you think you or your spouse may be eligible!

The attorneys can be reached at 718- 738-8500. Visit our website at www.bradyandmarshak.com. Please call our office if you would like to attend one of our upcoming seminars.

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