I am a veteran and I need assistance at home. Is there any benefit from the VA to help me?
Yes. It is a special pension that may be payable to the veteran (or surviving spouse of the veteran) if they need care. The Veteran’s Administration (“VA”) pays a monthly amount to help an eligible veteran (or the surviving spouse) pay for unreimbursed medical expenses such as an aide. It may also be beneficial to help pay for assisted living. The benefit amount varies depending on if the veteran is married or single or if you are the surviving spouse of the veteran.
My deceased spouse was a veteran. Am I entitled to any VA benefit if I need assistance at home?
You may be. The widow or widower of a veteran may qualify for the monthly benefit to help pay for care if he or she qualifies financially.
Are there financial restrictions when applying for Aid and Attendance?
Yes. The VA has both asset and income restrictions for the veteran (and the spouse). There is no set asset allowance, but the rule of thumb is generally to have less the $80,000 if a married couple and $50,000 for a single person. The VA will also look at the household income and then reduce that by any unreimbursed medical expenses (such as an aide) to determine if the veteran is entitled to a monthly payment to help pay for the care.
Is there a way to protect my house that will allow me to apply for veteran benefits on the future?
Yes. The house can be placed into a Veteran’s Asset Protection Trust, which is a type of irrevocable trust that would allow the veteran (or surviving spouse) to protect the home, or the sale proceeds if the home is sold. You will also be able to keep your veteran’s real estate tax reductions.
Is there a “look back” when applying for Aid and Attendance?
No (at least not currently). There is currently no “look back” period for Aid and Attendance and there is no penalty for transferring assets prior to applying.
Is there any assistance available from the VA if I (or my spouse) needs to go into a nursing home?
The special monthly pension (typically Aid and Attendance) benefit is reduced to $90/month if the veteran enters a nursing home. In addition, the veteran is entitled, subject to bed availability, to be admitted to a state veteran’s nursing home. However, unless the veteran is admitted to the home as a result of their service, the veteran must privately pay or apply for Medicaid (unless there is insurance coverage). The special pension (Aid and Attendance) does not cover nursing home care.
If I transfer my home to my children (or a trust), will I lose my VA real estate tax reduction?
Not if the transfer is done properly. If the veteran retains the right to live in the house (often referred to as a “life estate”), then the real estate tax exemptions (such as VA and STAR) remain available since the veteran remains responsible for the taxes on the house.