I had the privilege of visiting MacDill Air Force Base last month and had the opportunity to tour the base. At the end of the tour, we were treated to drinks at a restaurant on base. The restaurant is near an RV park which is on MacDill property and which the AFB allows retired military to stay. The retirees are there from November through sometime in May. I had no idea that MacDill provided this opportunity to retired military and was pleasantly surprised. While there, I had to chance to speak to some of these retirees – we started talking about Veteran’s benefits and, not surprisingly, those that I spoke to had no idea that the V.A. offered benefits to help pay for long term care. It reinforced the fact that this truly is a “little known” benefit. So, in my quest to make sure that the word gets out, here are some important factors to know about V.A. Aid and Attendance:
- Also referred to as “improved pension “or “pension”
- Available to wartime vets (the V.A. has specific designations for dates of service for WWII, Korean Conflict and Vietnam – so do not assume you are covered or not covered until you check the dates)
- Veteran is also someone who has been honorably discharged and served 90 days, at least one of which was during a period of war
- Also available to surviving spouses
- Must be disabled or over the age of 65 and in financial need
- Financial need – VA will look at:
- net worth (which should not be more than $80,000 but may be adjusted based on Veteran’s or surviving spouse’s life expectancy)
- gross annual income – which can be lowered if the Veteran or surviving spouse have unreimbursed medical expenses which exceed 5% of the maximum annual pension rate. Thus, if a Veteran is in an assisted living facility and his income is $2500 per month, but the cost of the ALF is $3,000, he would have a negative income.
- Unreimbursed medical expenses also include Medicare premiums, supplemental insurance premiums, sitter or caregiver costs, nursing home costs (and ALF’s), recurring prescription drugs and other medical expenses.
If you have questions regarding the Aid and Attendance benefit, I would encourage you to speak with your local Veterans Affairs office. These offices are funded by the state of Florida and their job is to assist veterans in obtaining all the benefits that are available to them. In Hillsborough County, we have an excellent Veteran’s Affairs office located at 10119 Windhorst Road, Tampa, FL 33619 and they can be reached at 813-975-2181.
Be wary of any company that says they represent Veterans but then says they will help you file the VA application only if you invest in the products they sell or do an irrevocable trust because doing so could adversely affect your ability to qualify for Medicaid.
For more information about Veteran’s Affairs and benefits, please contact the Elder Law Offices of Law Ohall today.