Older adults who are looking at moving to an assisted living facility, skilled nursing facility, or receiving health care services at home often ask about Veteran’s Benefits. The VA Benefits have very different rules as opposed to Medicaid, but can provide a very valuable benefit that can help pay for long term care or even allow a veteran to age in place home longer.
Monica A. Benson is a VA Accredited Attorney.
What Kinds of Benefits Exist?
There are a multitude of benefits that the VA offers, and trying to access them can involve a lot of red tape. First, there is the VA Healthcare system, which is available to all veterans. You may be able to access VA clinics and hospitals, obtain prescriptions at a lower cost, etc. through the Healthcare system. The VA also pays a monthly amount to veterans and/or their dependents to help pay for care in certain situations. These programs are both means tested (eligibility is based on need) and most require the veteran to have some kind of disability to qualify.
The Compensation program pays veterans a monthly amount based on service related injuries. If you were injured during your service, you can apply for a disability rating, and the VA will pay a monthly amount based on the severity of your disability.
VA Improved Pension
The Improved Pension program pays veterans a monthly amount based on disabilities that are non-service related. There are three Improved Pensions:
1. Low Income Pension;
2. Housebound; and
3. Aid and Attendance.
Low Income pension is just that – it provides additional funds to veterans with very low income. Housebound will pay a monthly stipend for those who are confined to their homes. Finally, there is Aid and Attendance, which pays a monthly stipend to help defray the cost of in home care, assisted living, or nursing home care. Please contact our office for an appointment to discuss these benefits.
What Can Katten & Benson Help Me Do?
Katten & Benson can help you plan around receiving Veteran’s Benefits. We are prohibited by federal law from charging you to help fill out an application. We can, however, help you with any associated planning you may need to do in order to access these benefits. In addition, veterans in need of VA benefits often need to look at other planning documents, such as their wills and powers of attorney, to make sure they are up to date. Finally, we can help you look at the long run to make sure anything that is done to help access VA benefits does not keep you from accessing additional benefits down the road.
1. I was told I have to have a Trust to qualify for VA benefits. Is this true?
Absolutely not. There is no requirement that you set up a Trust to access VA benefits. Many planners suggest that you set up a Trust to be eligible for benefits. However, veterans should be extremely careful about what kind of Trust is set up and how it is funded, as the wrong choice can disqualify you from benefits. In addition, beware of “one-stepper” planners: make sure that any choices you make, especially related to funding Trusts, will not disqualify the veteran or dependent from qualifying for Medicaid benefits in the future.
Katten & Benson can help you choose a correct path to qualify for VA benefits.
2. I met with a VA planner who wants me to buy an annuity. Should I?
Not necessarily. While purchasing an annuity is one way to get qualified for benefits, it will almost certainly not be compatible with Medicaid benefits down the road.
3. My benefits go directly to a facility to help pay my bill. Does this mean I can’t move?
No. Your benefits can go to any facility you choose, or directly to you, should you choose to move.