Elder Law: Veterans Affairs Aid & Attendance Improved Pension Benefit:

In the seminars presented by Walnut Creek elder law attorney Michael J. Young, www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com, he talks about the Veterans Affairs Aid & Attendance Improved Pension Benefit, which is paid to wartime veterans or to their surviving spouses. The program is asset and income based, as is Medi-Cal. However, the two programs have different qualification rules. The VA program is often utilized to pay for in-home care, assisted living facilities and board and care facilities. Medi-Cal is most often used to pay for skilled nursing facilities.

The VA program is “non-service connected,” which means that the disability does not necessarily result from being in the service. If you are over age 65, you are deemed to be “disabled” by the VA, and you could be eligible for the lowest amount of the benefit. If you are also housebound, you could be eligible for the next higher amount. And, if you are also in need of help with various activities of daily living, you could be eligible for the highest amount of the benefit.

 The veteran must have been discharged from the U.S. armed forces, with anything but a dishonorable discharge. Also, the veteran must have served 90 days continuously in the military, one day of which had to be during a war time. The periods of war are as follows:

  •  WWI: April 6, 1917 through November 11, 1918
  • WWII: December 7, 1941 through December 31, 1946
  • Korean War: June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955
  • Vietnam War: August 5, 1964 through May 7, 1975
  • Persian Gulf War: August 2, 1990 and continuing

The VA application, if prepared by someone other than the veteran, must be prepared “pro bono,” that is, without charge, and by someone who is accredited by the VA. An elder law attorney who is accredited by the VA is best equipped to help you with the planning and application for the VA benefit. He would also prepare an integrated long term elder care plan for you, that would take into account all of your assets, plus the VA and Medi-Cal benefits.

 Caveat: Beware of non-attorney individuals and organizations who offer to help with the VA applications. First check to see if they are accredited by the VA, which is required by federal law.  Also know that VA applications are prepared pro bono, that is, without charge. You may be advised by an organization to gift all of your assets away in a large gift, which can create immediate eligibility for the VA program, but ineligibility for Medi-Cal for a long period of time. Medi-Cal and VA have different rules. Finally, if the person or organization who wants to help with the VA application wants to sell an annuity to you as part of the process, you most certainly should get a second opinion.

This blog is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. You should consult an elder law attorney for your particular case, and before you proceed with any planning.

Written Michael J. Young, lawyoung1@gmail.com, elder law attorney in Walnut Creek, CA. www.WalnutCreekElderLaw.com mike@WalnutCreekElderLaw.com. 1931 San Miguel Dr., Suite 220, Walnut Creek, CA 94596. 925-256-0298. Mr. Young serves Contra Costa and Alameda Counties, including the cities of Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, Concord, Brentwood, Pleasant Hill, Antioch, Clayton, etc.

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