Veterans Benefits is a cost-saving public assistance program, the recipients of which must meet two different tests. It can be difficult to successfully apply for and receive the VA Improved Pension without professional assistance.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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
- The Veteran must have served 90 consecutive days on active duty (through the Vietnam War).
- The Veteran must not have received a dishonorable discharge.
- 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.
- The Widow must not have divorced the Veteran or remarried after the Veteran’s death.
- The Claimant must be certified by a doctor as needing assistance with their daily living activities.
Second Level of Qualification
- The household cannot have more than the Allowable Countable Assets. This is a floating maximum, which depends on your marital status and age.
- 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.
It is critical to understand that VA planning can significantly affect your eligibility for Medicaid for nursing home care & other financial assistance programs and should not be attempted without a complete understanding of your options and opportunities. Contact an experienced elder law attorney today to help you determine whether you are a candidate for veterans benefits. Don’t make a mistake by waiting too long to see a professional VA accredited advisor, as getting help with your application now can save you time and money. Contact W.G. Alexander & Associates today for assistance.