VA Benefits you might not know existed

Did you know that if you or a family member served in the armed services during a time of war that there may be a benefit available to help pay for nursing home care (or assisted living or other medical expenses)?  A little known pension benefit payable to veterans and their surviving spouses or unmarried child of a deceased wartime veteran (also commonly called the “Aid and Attendance” benefit) can pay tax free income of up to $1,950 for a married couple where the veteran requires care, $1,645 for a veteran with no spouse, $1,057 for a surviving spouse of a veteran, and $1,291 for a veteran who is health but the spouse requires care.[1]  These amounts are set to increase in 2012.[2]

In order to be eligible for the pension you must be a war-time[3] veteran (honorably discharged) with at least 90 days of active military duty, one day of which was served during a period of war.  The veteran or surviving spouse must need the assistance of another person to perform daily tasks, such as eating, dressing, undressing, toileting, etc.  A blind person or someone in assisted living or a nursing home also qualifies.  There are also income and asset requirements, but generally, an applicant’s assets must be less than $80,000 (excluding their home and a vehicle).

The following chart includes the set yearly income rate/annual pension Aid and Attendance limit set by Congress; it also includes the maximum monthly benefit (for 2011):

Aid and Attendance
Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR) Category

If you are a…

MAPR Amount

Your yearly income must be less than…

Maximum Monthly Pension Rates

Single Veteran

$19,736

$1,645

Veteran with Spouse/Dependent

$23,396

$1,950

Two Veterans Married
to Each Other

$30,985

$2,582

Surviving Spouse

$12,681

$1,057

Surviving Spouse with One Dependent

$15,128

$1,261

 

Want more information on how to apply and what forms you will need?  Click on this link: http://www.veteranaid.org/apply.php.

Attorney Laurie Ohall works with Veterans and their families to assist with VA Benefits and Long Term Care Planning in the Tampa and Brandon, Florida area.  Please contact us if we can assist with your estate planning or elder law needs.



[1] These figures are the maximum monthly benefits for those qualifying for Aid & Attendance can receive in 2011

[2] $2,020 for married veteran and spouse; $1,704 for single veteran; $1,338 for spouse of a living veteran; $1,094 for surviving spouse of veteran.

[3] War-time includes: World War I: April 6, 1917, through November 11, 1918, extended to April 1, 1920, for those who served in the Soviet Union. Service after November 11, 1918, through July 2, 1921, qualifies for benefits purposes if active duty was performed for any period during the basic WorldWar I period; World War II: December 7, 1941, through December 31, 1946, extended to July 25, 1947, where continuous with active duty on or before December 31, 1946; Korean Conflict: June 27, 1950, through January 31, 1955; Vietnam Era: August 5, 1964, through May 7, 1975.   However, February 28, 1961, through May 7, 1975, for a veteran who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period; Persian Gulf War: August 2, 1990, through a date to be prescribed by Presidential proclamation or law; Congress has not enacted legislation that would make the periods covering the 1983-1984 Lebanon crisis or the invasions of Grenada and Panama wartime service.  38 U.S.C.S. § 101(9); 38 C.F.R. § 3.2(e) (2005).