The VA Pension is a program that provides monthly income for wartime Veterans (or their survivors) who meet certain age or disability requirements, and who have income and net worth within certain limits. If you need help with the activities of daily life you may also qualify for increased benefits under the VA Aid and Attendance benefit.
There are three elements of VA Pension eligibility: (1) military record, (2) age or medical need, and (3) financial need.
1. Military Service Record
To be eligible for a VA Pension, a veteran:
- Must not have received a dishonorable discharge, and;
- Must have served during a time of war.
- Most veterans seeking benefits today will qualify if they served at least 90 days of active duty, some of which (at least 1 day) was during a time of war (WWII, Korea or Vietnam).
- Gulf War veterans have a somewhat different requirement, you can view details at the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
2. Medical Requirements
Veterans meet the age/medical eligibility requirements if they are at least 65 years old or have a disability that is permanent, requires long-term care, or qualifies for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Aid and Attendance
VA Aid and Attendance benefits provide monthly payments added to the amount of a monthly VA pension. If your loved one needs help with the activities of daily life they may qualify for this additional benefit.
If one of the following applies to your loved one, they could qualify for Aid and Attendance:
- If they need help with the activities of daily life, like bathing, feeding, and dressing.
- If they are largely bedridden due to illness or disability.
- If they have severely limited vision.
- If they are a patient in a nursing home.
3. Financial Requirements
Veterans must also show a financial need for a VA Pension. This means that their income and assets must be below certain limits set by the US Congress. We can help you meet this requirement and show you how to maintain your eligibility.
Estate Planning for VA Benefits
For those who qualify for VA Pension, that benefit will likely be just one part of planning for long-term care. Estate planning enables you to ensure and maintain VA eligibility and find the best tools for maximizing your VA benefit.
Most veterans need to think about additional elements of long-term care planning that are tailored to your individual needs. You may need to consider a Trust in order to maintain VA eligibility or to preserve assets for your loved ones. Don’t make common mistakes like selling a private residence and converting it to cash, that may disqualify you from Veteran benefits. Finally, if your long-term care needs increase we can help you qualify for Medicaid so that you can afford a skilled nursing facility.
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