The people that make sacrifices to serve in the United States military take risks, and they also receive certain rewards. One of them is a retirement pension for careerists that served for at least 20 years, but there is another pension benefit that flies under the radar.
Aid and Attendance Pension
Certain wartime veterans that need help with their day-to-day needs can gain eligibility for the Aid and Attendance Veterans Pension. The length of service requirement is just 90 days with one day of wartime service for people that began their service before September 8, 1980.
For those that started serving after that date, the length of service is 24 months or the full duty tour with a minimum of one day served during a time of war.
This benefit is for seniors that are 65 years of age or older. It is also available to qualified veterans that are totally and permanently disabled, regardless of their age.
The Veterans Pension is for people that can demonstrate a particular level of financial need, so there is a net worth limit. In 2022, the limit is $138,489, and it includes your annual income.
When your net worth is being calculated, one motor vehicle is exempt, and your home is not a countable asset. Items inside of your home like appliances that would stay with the home if you sold it are not countable assets.
Traditionally, there was no look back period, so veterans could transfer assets out of their names to qualify for the benefit immediately. However, in 2018, a three-year look back period was instituted. As a result, your eligibility is delayed if you divest yourself of assets during the three years prior to the submission of your application.
The maximum annual Aid and Attendance benefit for a single veteran in 2022 is $24,610. For a veteran with one dependent, it goes up to $29,175, and you add $2523 for each additional dependent.
Sobering Long-Term Care Statistics
The United States Department of Health and Human Services tells us that most senior citizens will need help with their activities of daily living eventually. Just over half of them will need professional assistance, and 32 percent of seniors will reside in nursing homes.
Since so many elders will incur these expenses, it is logical to assume that the country’s health care insurance program for senior citizens will cover custodial care. Many do not understand why this is the case, but in fact, Medicare will not pay for long-term care.
The median annual cost for a private room in a Hartford, Connecticut area nursing home in 2021 was just under $180,000. For an in-home health aide, you are looking at $66,924 annually.
Veterans that qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit get some support, but it falls well short of the actual costs.
The Medicaid program will pay for long-term care if you can gain eligibility, but it is a need-based benefit. You cannot qualify if you have more than $1600 in countable assets in your name.
As elder law attorneys, we help clients position their assets in a way that will lead to future Medicaid eligibility. Advance planning is key, because there is a five-year look back period that applies to Medicaid eligibility.
You can use an irrevocable Medicaid trust as the centerpiece of your nursing home asset protection plan. If you convey income-producing assets into the trust, you can continue to accept the income until and unless you apply for Medicaid.
Since you can still receive the income, you need to make ends meet, you can potentially fund the trust long before you actually need long-term care without taking any risks.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
We would be glad to gain an understanding of your situation and help you take steps that will lead to Medicaid eligibility if and when you need it. You can schedule a consultation at our Glastonbury or Westport, CT elder care planning offices if you call us at 860-548-1000.
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