Every week I try to come up with a topic for an article that will be informative to our readers. On Friday September 5, 2014 the front page article in our Desert Sun was “Veterans getting informed.” It talks about a group called Veterans University, that travels to advise vets of all their benefits and yet it does not mention the little known Aid and Attendance Benefit. The government will provide AID if you need ATTENDANCE: i.e. someone to attend to your needs! Of course one has to qualify.

Most lawyers do not know about Aid and Attendance. Is this because a lawyer cannot charge a VET for assisting them with this benefit? When you think about it lawyers are the ones protecting society at every turn. They are the one’s keeping corporations under control and forcing auto manufacturers to make cars safer and not explode on impact. However no one seems to know about this wonderful benefit.

At a recent Desert Bar Association Lunch I asked lawyers if anyone had heard of Aid and Attendance and none had. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has this little known tax free pension available to help qualified veterans, spouses and their surviving spouses pay for home health care, assistance living or nursing home care.

This Non-Service Connected pension was established in 1952 under Title 38 USC and has two components, Aid & Attendance & Housebound benefits. Last year an estimated 1.9 million veterans qualified but did not know about it and or did not know how to file a well-documented claim. With 60% of the seniors in the United States being veterans or spouses of veterans this pension can be a life line to allow them to age with dignity and peace of mind all the while affording them to receive the care they need and deserve.

There are over 100,000 VETS and or their spouses receiving this benefit today, but there should be many times that amount. The problem is that AID and ATTENDANCE is not promoted by the USA. Is that because the financial condition of our country is shaky and we do not want to pay out more money?

It is based on age, assets, marital status, income, liquid assets and cost of care. You usually can have $25,000-40,000 in liquid assets. If your home has value put it in an IRREVOCABLE TRUST with a son or daughter as trustee so you can shelter it. Only the trustee can draw on it. Then you get an EIN (employer identification number) which takes the place of a Social Security number. If there is more than $80,000 in assets they will not even consider aid and attendance. Thus the need for an irrevocable trust. The VA Aid & Attendance & Housebound Pension is designed to provide qualified veterans and their un-remarried surviving spouses with financial benefits outside of the traditional VA residential system. This pension benefit provides a direct, tax free monthly pension to help defray the cost of long-term care.

The Eligibility Requirements are:

  1. 65 years old and/or unemployable.

  2. Honorable or General discharge (anything other than a Dishonorable discharge).

  3. Served at least 90 days of active Federal duty with at least one day during an official period of conflict. For dates see: www.usseniorvets.com

  4. Medical necessity requiring care. They must have a medical condition or medical necessity requiring the applicant to live in an assisted or protected environment. A Doctor is able to document this need with a VA Physicians Report.

  5. Meet income and countable asset criteria

  6. An UN-REMARRIED surviving spouse has NO age requirement. (a surviving spouse must have been married to the Vet for at least 1 year, never divorced and never remarried.)

  7. The VA has an income test and certain medical expenses can be deducted from income to help quality.

  8. The asset and net worth limit can vary depending on many factors like life expectancy, medical expenses etc.

Access of your benefit through this system provides you with access to care. With a pension in hand, you are able to afford the care you need. Secondly, you have a choice. You have the power to select the services you need as well as the provider that meets those needs. Thirdly, the pension is dependable. Like Social Security, the pension will always be there for qualified beneficiaries and is paid directly to you by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.