2019 Veterans Benefits

Mr. McDermott is an accredited Veterans Administration (VA) attorney. The firm concentrates its VA benefits practice in VA pension benefits (Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits) which provide monthly income to a Veteran or the surviving spouse of a Veteran to pay for home care or assisted living costs.

These VA benefits are known as Aid and Attendance benefits and Housebound benefits. Similar to Medicaid the VA has income and asset requirements in order to qualify for these benefits. As of October, 2018, the VA has instituted a penalty for any assets gifted dating back three years from the time that an application for benefits is filed. The maximum penalty is five years. Unlike Medicaid, the VA uses a different calculation method to determine the length of a penalty period. Currently, the Medicaid penalty is one month of ineligibility for every $8,469.00 that is gifted. The VA penalty divisor is substantially smaller resulting in a very large period of ineligibility for small gifts. If gifts have been made three years prior to applying for VA benefits, the application should not be filed. Please contact my office to learn what planning options you might have if gifts have been made within the three year period prior to filing an application for benefits.

Under new VA asset rules, one may own a home with up to two acres of land. If you own more than two acres of land you will probably be ineligible for benefits. Additionally, you may own a car and up to $126,420.00 in countable assets. The firm can assist with protecting countable assets in excess of $126,420.00 so that VA benefits are obtained. Please contact us to find out if you can qualify for these valuable benefits.

The VA also has maximum income rules to qualify for these benefits. Income can be offset with unreimbursed medical expenses. If a family member is taking care of a veteran then the caregiver may be compensated and these costs can offset income to qualify for benefits. Caution must be used in these situations because Medicaid has specific rules regarding paying a caretaker. Many times, a veteran will need Medicaid in the future if their care needs increase. Consequently, an experienced Elder law attorney should be consulted in these matters.

The 2019 monthly VA benefits are as follows. For a Veteran with a spouse the maximum monthly Aid and Attendance benefit is $2,230.50 and the maximum monthly Housebound benefit is $1,727.59. This benefit is available for the Veteran who needs long term care. For a surviving spouse of a Veteran with no dependents the maximum monthly Aid and Attendance benefit is $1,209.00 and the maximum monthly Housebound benefit is $924.59.

For these types of VA benefits, in addition to asset rules there are income rules and non financial rules. The non financial rules relate to military service requirements for the Veteran and the need for the Veteran, spouse or surviving spouse to need assistance with the activities of daily living. Also, the cost of medical care for the disabled person must be compared to income to see if the income rules are satisfied.

Military service requirements are that the Veteran served in the active military, naval or air service for a continuous period of at least 90 days one day of which was during a declared war period. The periods of war are World War II 12/7/1941 to 12/31/1946, Korea 6/27/1950 to 12/31/1955 and Vietnam 8/5/1964 (2/28/1961 if actually in country earlier) to 5/7/1975. There is no need for combat or to have served in a particular country. The Veteran also had to be discharged "under conditions other than dishonorable".

The firm can counsel Veterans and their families in all aspects of the above requirements. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

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