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The Plain English Attorney

If you know a Senior Veteran (over 65) or a Widow of a Veteran who served during a time of war, it’s very likely they are unaware that there is a VA Benefit that can help them pay for their long-term care needs.

The benefit is known as “Pension Aid and Attendance.” According to the VA, it’s the least known and most underutilized benefit that the VA administers. The name itself is confusing. Many Veterans will say to us, “I didn’t retire from the military, why would I get a “Pension” benefit?

The answer is: If you’re a Veteran (or widow of a Veteran) who served during a time of War, and you’ve reached a point where you need assistance with what the VA calls “activities of ordinary daily living,” and if your income and expenses and assets are within VA guidelines, the benefit is designed to provide you additional income or a “pension” to help pay for your care expenses.

It’s actually the oldest benefit that the VA administers, having been first established at the end of the Civil War. But, as you can expect, any benefit that has been around and administered by the federal government for more than 150 years will have grown to become very byzantine and cumbersome in its administration. .

Here are the basic eligibility requirements: The first is service: The veteran must have served on active duty at least 90 days, with at least one day during a war-time period: The war-time periods are as follows:

a. World War II: 12/07/1941 – 12/31/1946
b. Korean War: 06/27/1950 – 01/31/1955
c. Vietnam 02/28/1961 – 08/05/1964 (Must have served in Vietnam)
d. Vietnam 08/06/1964 – 05/17/1975

There is no need to have been in combat or to have served in a war theater or to have suffered a service-connected disability or injury.

Second, the veteran must be over age 65. If under 65, the veteran must be unable to work and considered disabled. Widows can be under age 65 and need not be considered disabled.

Third, the claimant must be in need of at least two activities of what the VA considers to be “activities of ordinary daily living.” These include the need for such things as dressing, bathing, toileting, hygiene, medication management and the need for a protective environment.

Fourth, the claimant must have income within certain guidelines or be spending most of their money getting their care needs met, either at a retirement community or assisted living or by paying a caregiver at home (the caregiver could be a family member)

Finally, the benefit is : means-tested and the claimant’s assets need to be under $80,000. However, unlike Medicaid, the VA does not have a “look back” or penalty for gifting assets prior to the claim being filed. Although this is true for VA benefits, consideration should also be given to the impact of any gifting on future potential Medicaid benefits.

If eligible, the Pension Benefit can pay up to $2,085 a month to a married veteran. For a single veteran, the benefit is $1,758 and for a widow $1,130 per month.

If you or someone you know is a senior war-time veteran or widow who has care needs, please give us a call so we can discuss your case and the potential for receiving this benefit.

This article was written by:
David L Cole
Resource Advisor
VA Accredited Claims Agent #18417
Senior Veterans Council
919-825-1300 x 328

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