Veteran Benefits & Pensions

Veteran Non-Service Connected Benefits

Veterans or widow(er)s of veterans may qualify for an Improved Pension which will provide financial assistance to offset the cost of necessary health care. This VA benefit is extremely valuable to veterans or widows/widowers of veterans with medical expenses or those needing care in the home, an assisted living facility, or a nursing home. VA benefits planning requires a thorough understanding of the VA laws and regulations, which are confusing, often misinterpreted, and should only be done under the supervision of an attorney accredited with the VA and knowledgeable in the areas of public benefits law.

Please review the information below and contact our office today to schedule a consultation.

The three types of VA pensions available to veterans and widow/widowers of veterans are: Low Income Pension, Housebound Benefits, and Aid and Attendance benefits.

The basic eligibility criteria for every Pension are: (all criteria below must be met)

  1. The veteran must have served at least 90 days of consecutive active duty service, one day of which must have been during a war-time period;
  2. The veteran must have received a discharge other than dishonorable;
  3. The claimant must have limited income and assets available;
  4. The claimant must have a permanent and total disability at the time of application;
  5. The disability was caused without willful misconduct of the claimant; and
  6. The veteran or widow signs an application and provides the application to the Veteran’s Administration.

An eligible veteran or widow(er) could receive up to $2054/month to offset unreimbursed medical costs. That means that a qualified recipient could receive up to $2054/month to help pay for the costs of care in the home, care in an Assisted Living Facility, or care in a nursing home.

Unfortunately, the asset requirements are vague and are defined as, “whether the person has sufficient means to pay for their own care.” Although there is a presumption that a couple may have $80,000 in assets and qualify, the VA has been instructing caseworkers to perform an “age analysis” to determine the veteran’s financial need for the benefit. Under the age analysis, a 98 year old couple with $75,000 may not qualify for the pension, while a 78 year old couple may qualify.

In addition to the vagueness and complexity of the rules surrounding the benefit, it is important for potential beneficiaries to understand the implications that preserving assets and qualifying for the VA benefit could have on future Medicaid eligibility. While both VA benefits and Medicaid benefits are based on income and assets to determine qualification, each benefit has its own advantages depending on a particular client’s goals and living situation. Additionally, many individuals can actually qualify for both VA and Medicaid benefits at the same time which provides them with even greater assistance in paying for the cost of care. As such, it is important to understand how preserving assets to qualify for one benefit could adversely impact the other.

How we can help

We understand the VA application process and can provide you with expert advice and prompt attention. To that end, our office provides the following services:

  • Determining eligibility for VA pension,
  • Assisting clients maximize the amount of VA benefits they are eligible for,
  • Structuring Assets to qualify for benefits and preserve resources,
  • Analyzing how the structure will affect current or future Medicaid qualification,
  • Being available to answer any VA correspondence,
  • Representing clients through the appeals process if necessary

Veterans Benefits Rates (2013)

Basic, Aid and Attendance, Housebound

The rates below are shown as annual and monthly figures.  The Department of Veterans Affairs (“DVA”) increased the benefits by 1.7% from 2012.  The DVA posts the 2013 rates as annual dollar amounts.  The chart below shows the annual benefit levels as calculated by the DVA.  Wolf Elder Law has then calculated the monthly figures and have rounded them up or down to the nearest dollar amount.

Annual Maximum Basic Rate

Monthly Maximum Basic Rate

Veteran with no dependent

$12,465

$1,039

Veteran with one dependent

$16,324

$1,360

Veteran with no dependent & housebound Allowance

$15,233

$1,269

Veteran with one dependent & housebound Allowance

$19,093

$1,591

Veteran with no dependent plus Aid & Attendance

$20,795

$1,733

Veteran with one dependent plus Aid & Attendance

$24,652

$2,054

Each additional child

$2,093

$174

Widow with no dependent

$8,359

$697

Widow with no dependent & housebound Allowance

$10,217

$851

Widow with no dependent plus Aid & Attendance

$13,362

$1,114

Surviving child

$2,129

$177

Veteran married to Veteran, Both Aid & Attendance

$32,100

$2,675

5% med deduction vet $6235% med deduction married vet $8165% med deduction widow $417
2013 Average Medicare Deduction $104.90

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