Veterans Benefits

There is a special program for war period Veterans or their spouses and widows called the Improved Pension Benefit that pays a reimbursement for long term care expenses.  A Veteran can also qualify for medicine and medical supplies, as well as a personal needs allowance.  Qualification is subject to income and net worth limits. Importantly, the Improved Pension Benefit can be used for home care, assisted living, or nursing care. Professional assistance can be very helpful in meeting the qualification rules.

Veteran Pension Amount – A Veteran or the Widow of a Veteran may qualify for a special pension, the amount of which varies depending on the Claimant’s marital status (married, single, widowed).  Please see below for the maximum net income and maximum monthly benefits available to a Veteran or their Widow. These amounts may change each year based on the Cost of Living Index.
Maximum Net Income = $25,525

Maximum Monthly Benefit = $2,127

Maximum Net Income = $21,531

Maximum Monthly Benefit = $1,794

Maximum Net Income = $13,836

Maximum Monthly Benefit = $1,153

Rules for Qualification – There are two tests for qualification.  The first test is based on facts that cannot be changed (time in service, type of discharge, etc.).  However, the second level allows for the claimant to make changes in order to meet the requirements.  Those changes may include the use of trusts, care contracts, and changing account ownership, as well as other strategies to become eligible.

First Level of Qualification

  1. The Veteran must have served 90 consecutive days on active duty (through the Vietnam War).
  2. The Veteran must not have received a dishonorable discharge.
  3. The Veteran must have served at least 1 day of active duty during a war period.  There is no requirement that any service be performed in a combat zone.
  4. The Widow must not have divorced the Veteran or remarried after the Veteran’s death.
  5. The Claimant must be certified by a doctor as needing assistance with their daily living activities.

Second Level of Qualification

  1. The household cannot have more than the Allowable Countable Assets. This is a floating maximum, which depends on your marital status and age.
  2. There is also an income test that is rather complex; your household income less your unreimbursed long term care expenses must result in an Income for VA Purposes (IVAP) less than the Pension benefit. An IVAP of zero gets you the full benefit.

Planning for Veteran’s Pension – In order to qualify for the VA Aid and Attendance (A&A) or Housebound Pension Benefit for unreimbursed medical expenses, your countable assets must be below the threshold limits, and your income must meet the VA test.  With proper planning, the war period Veteran, spouse, or the Veteran’s Widow can qualify for Pension moneys and other assistance, while preserving family assets.  This pension will help the family pay for long term health care needs and avoid the depletion of the Claimant’s assets.

Unlike Medicaid, VA Pension can be used for all types of home healthcare and assisted living care.  Also, unlike Medicaid, gifts can be made into an irrevocable trust without a sanction period resulting in ineligibility and without estate recovery.  In other words, assets can be transferred just prior to qualification.