Veterans Benefits | Aid & Attendance
Aid and attendance benefits are available to veterans and their spouses who are at least sixty-five years of age. These benefits assist them with the cost of in-home care, assisted living, and nursing home care. Veteran’s Administration (VA) aid and attendance is perhaps most beneficial for veterans and their spouses who require an assisted living arrangement since Medicaid does not cover assisted living.
To be eligible, the veteran must have had ninety consecutive days of active duty with at least one of such days during war-time. The veteran need not have been wounded in action or have suffered a service related disability. The veteran must have received a discharge that wasn’t dishonorable, and the veteran and his or her spouse must meet the income and asset requirements.
To meet the asset test, a married veteran must have less than $80,000 of assets, and a single veteran (or veteran’s surviving spouse) less than $45,000 (excluding a residence, car, and prepaid funeral). To meet the income test, a married veteran must have income less than $21,615 and a single veteran (or the veteran’s surviving spouse) less than $18,234. Although these limits may seem low, they are very attainable. With no look back period and no divestment penalty, assets may be gifted to the veteran’s children either directly or in trust. The income test is attainable since the cost of assisted living is deducted in arriving at countable income.
It is critical that a qualified elder law attorney such as those at Accettura & Hurwitz advise you on the interrelation between aid and attendance and Medicaid eligibility. When qualifying for aid and attendance benefits, care must be taken to not negatively impact Medicaid eligibility. Transfers made in order to qualify for aid and attendance will cause Medicaid ineligibility if made within five years of entering a nursing home. A common strategy employed by Accettura & Hurwitz for relatively healthy veterans is to divest assets, apply for aid and attendance, and to start the five year look back clock ticking for Medicaid eligibility purposes.
For example: A 70 year old veteran (who is in good physical health but has early stage dementia) and his wife need to move to assisted living because they can no longer safely live on their own. They own a home ($250,000), car, prepaid funeral and $300,000 in CDs. By gifting at least $170,000 to their children (outright or in a trust that protects the assets from misuse by the children), the couple can move into assisted living and receive VA aid and attendance in the amount of $1,842 per month. Five years later, the veteran will be eligible for Medicaid and can therefore move to a nursing home to receive more intensive care. The full cost of the nursing home (the average cost of private pay nursing home care in Michigan in 2008 is approximately $6,000 per month) would be covered by Medicaid.
Accettura & Hurwitz Attorneys and Counselors are experienced in Michigan Veterans Aid and Assistance Benefits, Medicaid and Estate Planning. Contact us today!