Offices in Fort Wayne, LaGrange and Warsaw
Americans are living longer than ever before. For America’s Veterans, this means many will eventually require long-term care. While Medicaid will help pay for nursing home stays, it will not pay for assisted living. Thus, Veterans who would prefer assisted living or home care often end up in a nursing home instead. In addition, they risk losing all their savings and assets. Fortunately, another option is available. Veterans’ Benefits are available that can be used to cover the costs of assisted living and home care, including a child caring for a parent, without sacrificing the assets you have worked so hard to earn and preserve.
WHO IS CONSIDERED TO BE A VETERAN?
Anyone who served in the active military, naval, or air services (including the Coast Guard and U.S. Merchant Marines) is considered a Veteran. To be eligible for Veterans’ Benefits, you must have 90 days of active military service with at least one day of war-time service, and must incur expenses such as home care, assisted living, or have an adult child helping to care for you.
You have worked hard to get where you are today. And you want to do everything possible to protect the fruits of your labor for your enjoyment and that of the people that have come to mean the most to you in life. At Beers Mallers Backs & Salin, LLP, we are dedicated to helping seniors and their loved ones accomplish these goals and many others. Ours is a personal approach, one focused on you and your family’s particular needs. We take the time to ask the right questions—and then listen closely to what you have to say. That way we fully understand your greatest concerns, your short and long-term goals, your hopes for the future, the values you wish to impart to your loved ones, and the lasting legacy you want to achieve.
Then, and only then, do we design a plan that can address all of your concerns and help you realize your most cherished dreams. We can use our carefully crafted trusts and other planning strategies to protect you and your family from:
- High nursing home costs
- Unscrupulous predators who threaten your life savings
- The lack of maturity or poor decisions of your children, including their choice of spouse (and, the potential for divorce from that spouse)
ARE YOU MISSING OUT?
More than 70 million Americans are eligible for Veterans’ Benefits, yet millions of them do not take advantage of the various programs. What is more, in the next decade the number of Veterans 85 and older will triple. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to get the benefits you have earned and rightly deserve.
THE AID AND ATTENDANCE PROGRAM
This program is available to Veterans and their widowed spouses who need assistance with basic daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and eating. The benefits can be paid to someone outside the home, (which may include family members) or to the Veteran’s spouse, or most importantly, to an assisted living facility. Applicants must pass asset and income tests before getting Aid and Attendance benefits. As a part of a long-term care plan, most person’s estates can be positioned so they do qualify. The program also gives Veterans (but not a Veteran’s spouse) access to the VA pharmacy. The table below shows payments currently available through the program. (Subject to change.) On a monthly basis, the Aid and Attendance payments currently are as follows:
*Subject to change on an annual basis.
|Category||Monthly Payment||Annual Payment|
*Subject to change on an annual basis.
Veterans may use these funds in any manner they wish, including to care for a spouse.
Here is an example of how the Aid and Attendance pension can help. Mr. Smith, a Veteran, and his wife are in their 70s. Mr. Smith develops Alzheimer’s disease
and requires help with daily living in a protective environment. He and his wife do not want to use a nursing home, but are not sure they can afford an assisted living center. The costs of the assisted living centers they checked with are $2,500-$5,000 a month.
Mr. Smith has $1,500 a month from Social Security and a pension of $700 a month. Because he is a married veteran he is entitled to $2,120 per month based on 2015 figures. He implements a long-term-care plan whereby he qualifies for Veterans’ Benefits. The Aid and Attendance pension allows him to afford the assisted living center and stay out of the nursing home as long as possible.
You should consider consulting an elder law attorney to see whether you qualify for Aid and Attendance dollars. If you qualified for Aid and Attendance for the previous year, but your condition prevented you from applying for benefits during that period, an attorney may be able to help you receive those benefits. Finally, when qualifying for Aid and Attendance, an elder law attorney can help you qualify for Medicaid as well. This can protect your home and other assets in the event you ever require nursing home care.
VETERANS’ NURSING HOMES
Another benefit available to Veterans is access to state Veterans’ nursing homes. Veterans with service- connected disabilities and Veterans unable to afford nursing home care receive priority in the application process. The VA may also provide for non-institutional care, including home-based primary care and respite care. In addition, Veterans in state Veterans’ nursing homes may obtain Medicaid benefits.
HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS
The VA System is intended to be a non-adversarial process. The VA must help organize evidence to support your claim, and if the evidence is even slightly in your favor, the VA will generally grant your claim. Some adversarial elements do exist, however, and the amount of documentation required can seem overwhelming. You can request free representation from a Veterans’ service organization or, if you are experiencing difficulties with the VA or have been denied benefits, or you need to protect assets in order to qulify for VA benefits, the attorneys at Beers Mallers Backs & Salin, LLP can help.
HOW TO APPLY FOR BENEFITS
You will need to submit the following documents to apply for non-service related benefits:
- DD Form 214
- Discharge certificate
- Your latest available social security award letter with all sources of income
- Supporting medical assessment or medical statement
- ALF letter
- Marriage and/or birth certificates if benefits are for a spouse and/or children
In general, you must have assets of less than $80,000 to be eligible for benefits. For eligibility purposes, you can use unreimbursed medical expenses to reduce your income. In fact, there are numerous issues that should be reviewed to determine if qualification can be obtained. Most Veterans can qualify with proper guidance as part of a long-term care plan, even if their assets are over $80,000. If you have a service-related disability of 50 percent or more, were discharged within the last year and have not yet been rated for a disability benefit, or are only seeking care for service-related disabilities, you do not have to enroll.
Additional assistance programs available to Veterans include healthcare, disability compensation, pension, home loan guarantees, life insurance, and burial benefits. When you contact our firm, we will be happy to discuss any of these benefits with you in detail.
At Beers Mallers Backs & Salin, LLP, we are committed to helping Veterans get all the benefits they are entitled to, and making the qualification or appeal process as stress-free as possible. We believe Veterans’ Benefits are an important and, sadly, under-utilized tool to help America’s heroes care for themselves and the people they love. Therefore, we stay abreast of the constantly changing laws surrounding eligibility to be sure our clients have the information they need to obtain the benefits they deserve.
We invite you to contact our firm with any questions, and pledge to treat you with the respect and personal service you deserve.
Veterans Affairs Benefits Accredited Attorneys:
- Heidi B. Adair
- Stephen W. Adair
- Charles W. Backs
- Kevin P. Podlaski *Approved and admitted to file claims on behalf of Veterans and appear before:
1. Veterans’ Board of Appeal
2. U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals
- Robert E. Rhee
- Jesica L. Thorson