AID AND ATTENDANCE IMPROVED PENSION
Veterans of WWII, Korea and Vietnam have a little know benefit called the Aid and Attendance Improved Pension available to help pay for long term care. The Veterans Administration doesn’t commonly offer information about the Aid and Attendance Pension that is not only available to the veteran but to their spouse or widow as well. With today’s rising healthcare cost this benefit is a Godsend to veterans who need care. It is often the money needed to be able to have care or live in an assisted living. Let’s look at some of the specifics to qualify for the Veterans Aid and Attendance Improved Pension.
General Eligibility Requirements
Must have served during a period of war
The veteran must have served at least one day of active military service during one of these periods, served a total of 90 days of military service altogether, and had an honorable or general discharge.
Must require the need of an aid or attendant
The veteran or spouse must require an aid or attendant to assist them with at least one activity of daily living. These activities include mobility, bathing, eating, dressing, or toileting. In addition, diminished mental capacity would qualify as a criterion. The aid or attendant can provide assistance with any of the above plus can serve in other capacities such as socialization, meal preparation, housecleaning, maintenance, etc. as long as the primary reason for the need is to help with one of the ADL’s.
The aid or attendant can be a professional, family member, or friend and the services can be provided in a residence, assisted living facility, or nursing home. A resident of an assisted living facility or nursing home is deemed to be in need of such services. Also, the blind are deemed to be in need.
If over the age of 65, the cause of disability does not have to be service related. Alzheimer’s, stroke, Parkinson’s, etc. are all reasons for the need of an attendant. If under the age of 65, the reason for disability must be service related if there is a partial disability. For those veterans under the age of 65 with a full disability, the benefit may be available.
Must meet certain financial requirements
The need for aid and attendance must be supplemented by the need for financial assistance to pay for those services. Eligibility is determined through both income and asset levels. Unlike Medicaid planning, both incomes and all assets are considered for married couples. But also unlike Medicaid Planning, there is currently no ‘look-back’ period for assets that have been gifted or removed from the veteran’s estate.
When planning for the financial qualifications for the VA benefit, it is important to remember that the client may be a future prospect for nursing home confinement and that planning should be coordinated with Medicaid in mind. Assets and income are treated differently and if the goal is protect some assets for a community spouse, a thorough understanding of how these two programs clash is essential.
Income need is based on a formula that takes into consideration the applicant’s total household income less any unreimbursable medical expenses. Uunreimbursable medical expenses is include Medicare premiums, prescription costs, co-pays and deductibles, over the counter medications and medical supplies.
Asset allowance determinations are made on a case-by-case basis and take into consideration the total of assets, the life expectancy of the applicant, and other fixed expenses the applicant may be facing.
If the monthly costs of all unreimbursed medical expense are greater than the client’s total household income, they will be eligible for the FULL AID AND ATTENDANCE MONTHLY PENSION.
If the monthly costs of all unreimbursed medical expense is less than their income, but the resulting sum (income less expenses) is less than the threshold amount, they may be eligible for a PARTIAL AID AND ATTENDANCE MONTHLY PENSION.
The benefit amount is TAX FREE for the rest of their life.
Aid and Attendance Asset Qualification
Excluded assets include your primary home, car, pre-paid funeral (assigned or trust) and personal effects. Everything else is available to be used to pay for care. The VA will assess disqualification if it appears that the applicant has sufficient assets to pay for the unreimbursed medical expenses based on their life expectancy.
What options are available to assist the client with qualification for Aid and Attendance?
Transfer of ownership – For people in assisted living or home environments, they are not ready or willing to transfer ownership of their assets to their children or other heirs. They may still need funds for living expenses, travel, entertainment, etc.
Veterans Care Solutions can help seniors transfer ownership without giving up control of their assets and having the money spent by those to whom they have transferred that ownership. They will have access to the funds for their own use. And, those assets can be transferred back to the applicant in the event Medicaid planning is necessary.
The Process to Apply for Aid and Attendance
The application process can take from 4 to 8 months. If approved, the benefit will be paid retroactively to the first day of the month following the month of submission. The application for Aid and Attendance benefits includes a complete medical history, financial accounting, and pharmacy and doctor reports. The key to acceptance is completing the application properly the first time and including all the necessary information they will need to quickly determine your claim. The VA is a large bureaucracy and tends to lose applications once they are set aside for further review or information requests. Veterans Care Solutions specializes in guiding you on completion, submission, and follow-up of these forms.
In addition to the application form, the following documents are needed:
Discharge/Separation Papers (DD-214)
Copy of Marriage Certificate and all marital information (if applicable)
Copy of the Death Certificate (surviving spouses only)
Copy of current Social Security Award Statement and any other income
Net Worth information
Proof of insurance premiums, medications, medical bills or any other medical expenses that are not reimbursed by insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid
Physician statement that includes current diagnosis, medical status, prognosis, name and address, ability to care for self, ability to travel unattended, etc
A statement of residency or level of healthcare service and the amount paid.
Veterans Care Solutions can assist you and your clients in applying and qualifying for the VA Aid and Attendance Program. We conduct an initial screening to determine eligibility based on health factors and we will then conduct a financial interview to determine what, if any, steps they need to take to meet the financial qualification. Veterans Care Solutions will also work with all family members and attorneys to assist them in understanding the steps that need to be taken, a timetable for those steps, and the results of the implementation of the plan.
We then will guide you in completing the application so that it gets quickly approved. We also work with and through home care, assisted living, and nursing home personnel to educate families and caregivers about these benefits. We also assist these same personnel with communication tools to help them advertise this benefit to both current and prospective residents and clients. .
We believe this benefit is a ‘thank you’ for the service to our country that these brave men and women and their families have made. We are pleased to be able to honor them in this way.