You should be aware of the potential impact of long-term care costs when you are looking ahead toward your retirement years. The United States Department of Health and Human Services has found that seven out of ten seniors will require living assistance eventually.
Just over 50 percent of elders will incur long-term care expenses, and nursing homes and in-home health aides come with some hefty price tags. Medicare does not cover custodial care, so this is not the solution.
Fortunately, some seniors that served in the military can take advantage of a benefit that can help them defray these expenses.
In addition to the retirement pension that is available to U.S. service veterans that serve for at least two decades, there is another type of pension.
It is simply called the Veterans Pension, and there is an Aid and Attendance version of this benefit for people that need help with their activities of daily living. There is also a Housebound designation for qualified veterans that cannot leave their homes for the most part.
The length of service requirement for enlisted people is surprisingly modest. If you began your service in the military before September 8, 1980, the requirement is one day of service during wartime out of a minimum of 90 days of total service.
For those that enlisted after this date, the one day of wartime service is necessary along with at least 24 months of service. Officers can qualify if they began a tour after October 16, 1981, assuming they did not serve during the previous 24 months.
You have to be at least 65 years of age to qualify for this benefit, and you could gain eligibility if you are under 65 and permanently and totally disabled.
In addition to the length of service and the age/disability requirements, you have to be able to prove that you have a significant level of financial need. This is measured by comparing your countable assets to the limit that has been installed.
The limit until November 30, 2021 is $130,773, but your home, one motor vehicle, appliances and other things that would not go with you if you moved are not counted.
Later this year, the figure will be indexed for inflation, and it will be somewhat higher for the next 12-month period.
In 2018, a legislative measure was enacted that installed a three-year look back period that applies to eligibility for the Veterans Pension. If you apply for the benefit, administrators will look into your financial transactions going back three years.
Should they find that you divested yourself of assets during this interim without getting fair value in return, you would be deemed ineligible. You would be penalized, and you would not be able to receive a benefit for a period of time that would be tied to the amount of the divestitures.
Current Veterans Benefit Payouts
A single veteran that is qualified for the Aid and Attendance Veterans Pension can receive a maximum annual benefit of $23,238 a year. For Housebound, the figure is $17,024, and the standard Veterans Pension max benefit is $13,931.
If you have one dependent, the Aid and Attendance top payout goes up to $27,549. It is $21,337 for a housebound veteran with one dependent, and the standard benefit for a former service member that is in this position is $18,243.
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