Aid and Attendance Pension
Have you been wondering whether, as a veteran or the surviving spouse of a veteran, you might be eligible for additional payments to cover long-term care?
Figuring out if you can receive additional aid for either an assisted-living facility, nursing home, or in-home care is as simple as determining if you meet certain service, disability, and financial requirements:
• Veterans must have served ninety days or more of continuous military service with at least one day in wartime during their lifetime.
⁃ World War II: Dec. 7, 1941 through Dec. 31, 1946
⁃ Korean War: June 27, 1950 through Jan. 31, 1955
⁃ Vietnam War: August 5, 1964 through May 7, 1975 (Feb. 28, 1961 for veterans who served “in country” before Aug. 5, 1964)
⁃ Gulf War: August 2, 1990, through a date to be set by law of Presidential Proclamation
• Veterans must have been discharged “Honorable” or “General Under Honorable” conditions.
• Veterans must be certified by a physician as permanently and totally disabled, but the condition does not have to be service-connected.
Aid for long-term care is available to any veteran and/or surviving spouse who requires the “aid and attendance” of another person in order to “avoid the hazards of his or her daily life.” A person in an assisted-living facility is presumed to be in need of aid and attendance, even if he or she is not bedridden or entirely helpless. The requirement is only that such care is needed on a regular basis.
The VA will accept also a letter from a private physician, which includes a complete medical diagnosis and states that the claimant has an incapacity that requires regular, daily care or assistance with two daily living activities such as bathing, dressing, transferring, or using the toilet.
Assets or net worth limits:
The VA does not currently have a set asset limit, but it does consider an applicant’s financial assets when determining eligibility. Whether married or single, an applicant’s net worth should generally be less than $80,000 excluding the home, vehicle, or term life insurance. Other factors the VA takes into consideration are the age and life expectancy of the applicant and the costs of care.
It’s important to be aware of other asset limits as well:
- Connecticut Medicaid: $1,600 limit
- Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders limits: $36,270 for a single applicant and $48, 360 for a couple (as of March 1, 2017)
- There are also income caps on these two programs.
Although the VA does not presently penalize applicants for transferring assets in order to qualify, the administration has begun inquiring about transferred assets as part of the application process. Additionally, new regulations proposed by the VA would impose a period of ineligibility on asset transfers.
If all of the above requirements are met, the VA’s next step is to calculate your “Countable Income.” If your Countable Income falls below the applicable pension rate, they will send you a monthly payment to make up the difference between those two figures.
The current Aid and Attendance Pension rates are:
$21,531 annually ($1,794 monthly) for a single veteran
$25,525 annually ($2,127 monthly) for a veteran and spouse
$13,836 annually ($1,153 monthly) for a surviving spouse
These figures are updated annually in December based on the annual cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security.
To calculate your countable income, the VA takes the total gross annual income — including income earned on savings or investments — and subtracts certain deductions, such as unreimbursed medical expenses including dentist fees, glasses, doctor’s fees, prescription drugs, therapy, home health services, Medicare Part B premiums (currently $134.00 per month), Medicare Part D premiums, and supplemental health insurance premiums.
Here’s an example of how it works:
A Single Veteran
(Income Standard/Pension Rate: $1,794 monthly)
+ $1,900.00 Social Security
+ $1,200 Employer Pension
$3,100 Total Income
Unreimbursed Medical Expenses:
- $4,500 Assisted-living Costs
- $134.00 Medicare Premium
- $43.00 Part D RX Plan
- $250.00 Supplemental Medical Insurance Premiums
- $25.00 Out-of-pocket Rx Co-pays and Deductibles
$4,952.00 total Expenses, multiplied by 95% = $4,704.40
Calculating Countable Income:
Actual income minus 95% of Unreimbursed Medical Expenses = Countable Income
$3,100 - $4,704.40 = $0
Calculating the Monthly Deficit:
Standard/Pension Rate for a single veteran minus Countable Income = Monthly Deficit
$1,794 - $0 = $1,794
Calculating New Total Income:
Existing Income plus the Monthly Deficit = New Total Income
$3,100+ $1,794 = $4,894
The Application Process
If you would like help determining whether you are eligible for this pension and coordinating with other programs to maximize your benefits, several attorneys at Czepiga Daly Pope & Perri are Accredited Veteran’s Affairs Claims Attorneys and would happy to assist you.
You can also take advantage of free services by appointing a recognized organization, such the Connecticut Department of Veteran’s Affairs, to represent you. If you choose this option, you may still need additional legal advice regarding how this benefit will affect other benefits like Medicaid or state-funded home care, Medicare Savings Programs, Medicaid for low income adults, SAGA cash assistance, fuel and weatherization programs. For example, Effective July 1, 2012, Connecticut disregards a portion of the VA pension and does not count it as income for most programs. Good legal advice will ensure you select the program that is best for you. For instance, you may need a special needs trust (SNT) for any excess income in order to qualify for some programs.
Overall, the application process typically takes 6 months to perhaps over a year to complete, but the benefit is retroactive to the first of the month following the month in which you applied. For example, if you file an application on November 11, the retroactive amount would be effective to December 1, and you will receive a check for the retroactive amount.
www.ct.gov/ctva - Connecticut Dept. of Veteran’s Affairs website. Determine which district office covers your town, and call the Advocate in that office for assistance.
www.va.gov - Ask a question via this website and receive a response within a day or two.