Veterans Benefits are perhaps the most misunderstood and underutilized resources available to millions of veterans and their families. While it is commonly known that certain benefits are available for the brave men and women who served in our armed forces, many veterans (and their families) are unaware that they could be eligible for a wide range of benefits through the United States Department of Veterans Affairs even if they did not directly retire from the military or suffer injuries in the line of duty.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is made up of three areas. Our firm's focus is with the Veteran's Benefits Administration. Within that administration, there are two types of benefits, disability/compensation benefits and pension benefits. Disability/Compensation benefits are for service-connected disabilities (medical conditions related to the veteran's service in the military). There are no income/asset rules. Pension benefits are for disabilities unrelated to the veteran's service in the military, but there are income/asset rules.
Elder Law of Louisville assists wartime veterans, or surviving spouses of wartime veterans, in obtaining VA Pension Benefits. The VA Pension Benefits are in the form of cash paid monthly to the veteran or surviving spouse. This money can be used for any purpose.
Claiming Your Veterans' or Spousal Benefits
The Basic Pension is for wartime veterans or their surviving spouses who meet the following criteria:
1. The veteran must have served at least 90 days of active service with at least one day of service during a wartime period.
2. The veteran must have received a discharge that is other than dishonorable.
3. The claimant must have limited income and assets available. The level of income and assets allowed varies from claimant to claimant. With proper planning, this criteria can be met.
4. The claimant must be over 65, or have a permanent and total disability, and the disability was caused without willful misconduct of the claimant.
In addition to the Basic Pension, there are two allowances that provide a larger benefit. These are called Housebound and Aid & Attendance. In order to obtain the Basic Pension with Housebound Allowance, the claimant must meet the above criteria and be unable to leave the house without assistance. This does not mean the individual never leaves the house, but cannot leave the house for employment purposes. In order to obtain the Basic Pension with Aid & Attendance Allowance, the claimant must meet the above criteria, plus require assistance to perform at least two activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, feeding, toileting, taking medication, etc. Or, the claimant must require residence in a protective environment (such as assisted living facility due to the risk of falling). An individual can only qualify for one of these allowances, not both.
Similar to Medicaid planning, there are tools available to help individuals protect assets and qualify for this needs-based benefit. An experienced elder law attorney with the proper VA benefits training can create a comprehensive plan designed to maximize eligibility for both VA and Medicaid benefits. Contact Elder Law of Louisville today to schedule your consultation.