Certain wartime veterans who have 90 days of active duty, one day of which began or ended during a period of war, may be eligible for Veterans Aid & Attendance benefits. Surviving spouses who were married at the time of the veteran’s death may also be eligible. There are certain financial and medical qualifications that may apply. Here is what you need to know.
Medical qualification requirements for veterans benefits
In order to qualify medically for Veterans Aid & Attendance benefits, the wartime Veteran or surviving spouse must require the assistance of another person in performing daily tasks requirements including eating, dressing and undressing, etc. Eligible veterans or spouses who are blind, patients in nursing homes for mental or physical incapacity, and assisted living residents also qualify for these benefits.
Financial eligibility requirements for veterans benefits
Much like other types of government benefits, applicants for Veterans Aid & Attendance benefits typically can have no more than $80,000 in assets excluding their residence and vehicles. Lower amounts may also apply under certain circumstances.
Documentation required to apply for veterans benefits
When completing the Aid and Attendance Application, there are certain documents you will need to gather in addition to the documents the government requires you to complete. Here are examples of some of the documents that you may need to have available:
- Discharge/Separation Papers (DD-214).
- Copy of Marriage Certificate and any other marital information.
- Copy of the Death Certificate (for surviving spouses only)
- Copy of current Social Security Award Letter
- Net Worth information
- Proof of income
- Proof of insurance premiums, medications, medical bills or any other medical expenses that are not reimbursed by insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.
- Court order of guardian appointment (if guardian of the veteran or surviving spouse)
- Physician statement regarding medical condition
- Nursing Home Status Statement
- Banking information for Direct Deposit of benefit payments
- Employment history (unless you are over 65)
- List of all doctors and hospitals visited in the last year.
Specific Forms Required for Veterans Aid & Attendance Benefits
After you have gathered the required documents and information you will need, the next step is to complete the required forms to complete the application. These forms are available from the VA or a VA accredited attorney. Given the complexity of the planning strategies and forms needed to qualify for VA benefits, the services of an experienced and qualified accredited VA attorney is often essential.
What happens after filing for Veterans Aid & Attendance?
Each person’s application is unique and can have its own set of issues. In addition to that, every processing center is not the same in that some are more efficient in handling claims than others. If any necessary information is missing from your application, that will also have an impact on how your application is processed. Typically, it takes between 9 and 18 months for applications to be processed. Many experienced and qualified accredited VA attorneys know how to reduce this time to 3 or 4 months. At that point, you will receive a determination letter.
Requesting expedited processing for older applicants
If the person applying for Veterans Aid & Attendance benefits is age 90 or older, a request can be made to expedite the application process. In fact, the Veterans Administration’s regulations state that applications for benefits for a veteran or widow age 90 or older are to be given priority. This can be done by cover letter submitted with the application. However, chronic understaffing at the VA does not prevent even these claims from languishing in the approval process.
Requesting appointment as a fiduciary
In some cases, a loved one wishes to serve as the fiduciary for a veteran or surviving spouse. The Veterans Administration does not recognize powers of attorney or durable powers of attorney. In that situation, you can request to be appointed as fiduciary. To be approved the Veterans Administration must determine that you are someone reputable to handle the financial affairs of the applicant according to their guidelines.
If you have questions regarding Veterans resources, or any other estate planning issues, contact the Northern California Center for Estate Planning and Elder Law for a consultation, either online or by calling us at (916) 437-3500.