Posts Tagged ‘Benefit’

Veteran’s Aid and Attendance

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

Elder Law attorneys work with their clients to try to maintain the lifestyle that the client wants.  One of the ways that Elder Law attorneys do this is by helping the client find benefits that are available to them.

Even though its been around for a long time, a lot of people still don’t know about the Veteran’s benefit known as ‘Aid and Attendance’.

Every veteran who has served at least 90 days of active duty, with at least one of those days during a period that is designated as ‘a period of war’, and who left the service with anything other than a dishonorable discharge might be eligible.  The benefit is also possibly available to the widow or widower of a deceased veteran who met the service eligibility requirements.

You can check HERE to determine if  your service included at least one day during a period of war.  Note that while you had to be on active duty for at least one day during a period of war, you did not actually need to be stationed in a combat zone.

In addition to the service eligibility, the veteran (or spouse of deceased veteran) must meet some medical and financial requirements before they can receive this benefit.

The medical requirements are that the person requesting the benefit must NEED assistance with daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, eating, cooking, taking medications, etc.  There are no specific details as to what is required to prove a NEED and each application is evaluated individually.  As a practical matter, if the person can and does drive, it is practically impossible to prove that they NEED assistance with daily tasks.

The basic requirements also state that the person requesting the benefit must have a financial need.  Again, each application is evaluated individually and there are no definite limits.  While the stated requirements say that the applicant can have up to $80,000 in assets, the practical experience is that some people with assets as low as $50,000 have been declined.  The safer approach would be to have no more than $40,000 in assets.  There is also an income requirement.  Note that there is no ‘look back’ period for this benefit, unlike the ‘look back’ period that comes into play when you apply for medicaid.

If you apply for this benefit and are declined, you must wait at least one year before you can apply again.  That is why it is important to try to get the information correct the first time.  It would be a very sad event if the applicant was denied the benefit for some reason, but then things changed a month later that would have made them eligible and they had to wait a whole year to reapply.

The details of applying for this benefit are complex, even though they seem deceptively simple.  There are forms available for you to do this yourself, but you might want to consider working with someone that can help you get things right the first time.  There are also a lot of people that claim to be able to assist you in the application process for a fee, but often those people don’t have a lot of experience in getting claims approved.  It would be a good idea to ask your prospective assistant how many of the Aid and Attendance claims have resulted in approved benefits?

How much can you receive?  For 2011, the maximum benefit for a veteran is $1,644 per month; the maximum benefit for a veteran and spouse is $1,949 per month; the maximum benefit for a surviving spouse is $1,056 per month.; the maximum benefit for a veteran married to a veteran is $2,540 per month.  Note that these are maximum amounts and the actual benefit that is approved may be less than these amounts based on other criteria.

It is also very important for you to remember that once you have been approved for this benefit, you will need to respond annually to the request for information from the Veterans’ Administration to make sure you continue to meet the eligibility requirements.

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