Veterans Aid and Attendance
Many people are unaware that the Veterans Administration offers financial benefits to veterans who need assistance paying for home health care costs or assisted living expenses. Neither Medicare nor Medi-Cal covers these costs and they can exceed $7,000 a month. To help defray these costs, veterans and their widows(ers) are entitled to an “improved pension” to offset the cost of necessary health care expenses.
In order to be eligible for an improved pension, a veteran must have served at least ninety days of active duty with at least one day during a wartime period. It is not necessary for the vet to have served overseas.
Additionally, “wartime” service extends beyond the end of hostilities. For example, wartime service during World War II includes the period from December 7, 1941 through December 31, 1946. Wartime service during the Korean War runs from June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955. Wartime service during the Vietnam War includes service from August 5, 1964 through May 7, 1975. Wartime service for the Gulf War commenced on August 2, 1990 and has not ended.
A veteran must also receive a discharge other than dishonorable, must have limited income and assets available, and must have a permanent and total disability. A disability rating is not required for people age 65 or older. For purposes of the improved pension benefits, the VA presumes people over age 65 are disabled.
VA pensions are designed for veterans with modest incomes. However, the Veterans Benefits Administration allows veterans to subtract all medical care related costs, including the cost of assistance with activities of daily living, nursing home and assisted living care expenses, and Medicare premiums in determining whether they meet the income eligibility threshold. For 2013, if a married veteran’s net annual income, after subtracting the above health care costs, is $24,652.00 or less, he may qualify for monthly benefits up to $1,949.00. A single veteran with annual net income of $20,795.00 or less may qualify for monthly benefits up to $1,732.00, and a widowed spouse with net income of $13,362.00 or less may qualify for monthly benefits of $1,113.00.
Each VA claim is unique and the above criteria are generic in nature and may not be applicable to each claimant. There are never any guarantees that a claim or specific benefit will be awarded. But for many it is worth investigating this often overlooked benefit.
Andrea M. Gherini is an accredited attorney with the Veterans Administration. Call the Law Office of Andrea M. Gherini today at (760) 754-2381 for more information.