An important benefit available through the Department of Veterans Affairs is commonly called the Aid and Attendance pension. There are three prongs of Aid and Attendance eligibility. They are 1.) Wartime Service; 2.) Medical Need Requirements; and 3.) Financial Need Requirements. We’ll talk about each prong of eligibility below.
1.) Wartime Service
You, or your spouse, must have served at least 90 days of active military duty. At least one of those days must have been during “wartime” as defined by the VA. It includes WWII, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf War conflicts. You do not have to been at the front or even in the war zone, so long as the United States was at war at the time of your service.
2.) Medical Need Requirements
You must need some form of assisted care. This may mean that you need assistance with the basic activities of daily living.
3.) Financial Need Requirements
You must financially qualify for the Veterans Aid and Attendance benefits. There are two tests that you must meet; the first is an asset test (how much you’re worth) and the second is an income trust (how much comes in each month.)
It’s generally accepted that you can have some financial assets, a home, and a car and still qualify for Aid and Attendance. There is no set income limit; however, the VA does evaluate your application and consider your gross income minus a portion of your unreimbursed medical expenses. There are many traps for the unwary when seeking this benefit. Many applications are denied due to ignorance of the many technical requirements for this benefit. Obtaining expert assistance is the prudent way to proceed.
If you are not immediately eligible, be careful about strategizing or gifting on your own. You may disqualify yourself from both Veterans and possibly future Medi-Cal benefits. Consult with an experienced, qualified elder law attorney, who is accredited by the VA to best ensure that you are collecting all benefits you’re eligible for. Attorney Timothy Murphy is VA accredtied.