By Debbie Gregory.
The Veterans Administration offers assistance to low-income veterans and surviving spouses, 65 years and older, through its Aid and Attendance program.
Many Veterans and loved ones who are in need of and eligible for this benefit are not cognizant of it. You can apply by contacting your local Veteran Service Officer. While there is no fee to apply, there are those who charge a fee to assist, so stay clear of them.
This benefit can literally be a lifesaver for many senior veterans and their loved ones. To find out more, please read about it in our Veterans Scene column by Ted Puntillo at https://militaryconnection.com/veterans-scene/veterans-widows-aid-and-attendance.
These benefits are available to Veterans or their surviving spouses who require in-home care, nursing care, assisted living and other needs. This may include help with daily living activities such as bathing and preparing meals. A family member can provide this in-home help.
Aid and Attendance is a benefit paid in addition to a veteran’s basic pension.
In order to qualify, the veteran must have served at least one day during a wartime period. He or she did not have to be in combat. Currently, to be eligible for Aid and Attendance, a veteran (or the veteran’s surviving spouse) must meet certain income and asset limits. The asset limits aren’t specified, but $80,000 is the amount usually used, and the applicant’s home or vehicle are not counted as assets.
The rules for benefits are expected to change sometime this year. The proposed regulations will set an asset limit of $119,220 that will include both the applicant’s assets and income. It will be indexed to inflation. It will not count the home or vehicle as assets.
One important change will establish a three-year look-back provision for Aid and Attendance benefits. Applicants who transfer assets within three years of applying for benefits would be subject to a penalty period that can last as long as 10 years. To avoid the penalty, applicants would have to present clear and convincing evidence that the transfer was not made in order to qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits. This is a benefit for those who need it the most, and the VA wants to make sure that those who would not qualify are not transferring their assets to others in order to receive this benefit.
Under the proposed rules, there is a presumption that any transfer made during the three-year look-back period, including donations to places of worship or charitable organizations, was done for the purpose of becoming eligible for the pension.
While the proposed changes are not yet final, the changes could be enacted as early as this summer. Therefore, senior veterans in need should start planning as soon as possible to take advantage of this valuable veteran benefit while it is still more widely accessible.
If you or your loved one needs help paying for assisted living facilities or in home care, then act quickly before it becomes more complicated. Our veterans have earned this benefit.
Remember, anyone that attempts to charge a fee or a percentage of what you are awarded should be avoided. It does take time to receive these benefits. But once you qualify, you will receive a check in a lump sum from the time you applied and then monthly benefit payments.