VA Aid & Attendance Pension Benefit Changes on the Horizon

We have qualified many of our clients for the VA Aid & Attendance Pension benefit, (A&A) which is available for wartime veterans or their surviving spouses, as part of their long term care plans. This program can pay the veteran over $19,000 per year, or the surviving spouse of the veteran over $12,000 per year.  This benefit is very helpful for the payment of in-home care, assisted living and board and care costs. 

             For many of our clients, planning for qualification for this benefit is required. Any planning for A&A must be coordinated with planning for Medi-Cal, which helps pay for the cost of skilled nursing facilities. As part of the planning, the Medi-Cal regulations allow for the gifting of assets in order to obtain eligibility. These regulations also provide for periods of ineligibility for Medi-Cal, if the gifting is not done properly.

             The VA, Aid and Attendance program presently has no penalties for gifting. As a result, the veteran can theoretically give all of his money away today, and be eligible for the VA benefit tomorrow. However, if the gifting is not done properly, and pursuant to the Medi-Cal regulations, the veteran may not be eligible for Medi-Cal for many months. The cost of nursing homes can be $10,000 per month, and we never know when we may end up in a nursing home.

             The Aid and Attendance Pension benefit has become very popular as of late, and the United States Congress has expressed concern lately about complaints concerning the length of time it now takes for the A&A applications to be processed. Congress has also been concerned about complaints concerning abusive practices by some within the financial investment community, who advocate asset transfers from veterans or their surviving spouses, and who then sell annuities in order get people qualified for the benefit. In many instances the applicants do not qualify for A&A, and their chances of obtaining Medi-Cal may have been jeopardized for many months. In addition, qualification for A&A does not require the purchase of an annuity.

             As a result, Congress is considering imposing a “look back penalty period” for gifting of assets in order to obtain qualification for A&A. The result will be a penalty period for eligibility for A&A. A three year look back penalty period has been suggested by a U.S. Senator. Any such new legislation would probably not take effect for another year. As a result, long term care planning should begin as soon as practicable. After all, to quote my mother, “None of us are getting any younger.”      

 To view our “Nuts and Bolts” Guide to Veteran’s Benefits, please follow this link:

Written Michael J. Young, elder law attorney and probate attorney in Walnut Creek, CA and former in-house counsel for title insurance companies. 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. Mr. Young advises clients regarding Probates, Probates with Real Estate, Medi-Cal, nursing homes, asset protection, the VA Aid and attendance pension benefit, and long term care planning. Mr. Young is an Elder Law Attorney and Probate Attorney with offices in Walnut Creek, CA. Walnut Creek Elder Law Attorney, Walnut Creek Probate Attorney

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