One of the most often overlooked pension benefits that a veteran and/or his or her spouse may qualify for is called “Aid and Attendance.” It is important for veterans and their spouses to contact their local Veterans office to determine whether or not the veteran and/or the veteran’s spouse can qualify for this benefit.
This pension provides veterans and/or their spouses with monthly payments to those individuals who require the aid and attendance of another individual. This type of veteran’s pension benefit is in addition to the monthly pension that some veterans are entitled to as well. Specifically, this pension is for veterans and their spouses who have high medical expenses, are disabled, and who are having trouble living on their own. It can assist individuals living in a nursing home or an assisted living facility. I have found that this benefit is especially important for those individuals who want to reside in an assisted living facility and do not have the monthly income to do so.
In order to be eligible for this type of benefit, the veteran must have 90 consecutive days of active duty and must have served one day during a period of war, which does not mean that they need to be in a combat zone.
The next item which needs to be explored is the veteran and/or their spouse’s medical eligibility. A veteran or spouse must need the assistance of another person to perform some or all of the activities of daily living, including the inability to feed oneself, to dress and undress without assistance, or to take care of one’s own bodily needs. In addition, if the person has a physical or mental illness that requires assistance to protect them from the dangers in their daily environment, that would also qualify for the medical eligibility test.
Finally, the veteran or surviving spouse can have no more than $80,000.00 of assets, which excludes a house, one car, and personal possessions. However, please note that there is a sliding scale for the amount of assets based on the veteran and/or the spouse’s age. In addition, if the individual’s countable income is less than their medical expenses which they are incurring, such as nursing home and assisted living expenses, insurance premiums, prescription costs, and doctor bills, then they may be eligible for this aid and attendance pension benefit.
For 2015, a married veteran may receive between $1,400.00 and $2,100.00 per month if they qualify for this benefit. If they are not married, then they may be able to receive between $1,000.00 and $1,700.00 each month. The surviving spouse benefit can be between $700.00 and $1,100.00 per month as well. It has been my experience that this pension benefit is very important for those individuals who desire to live in an assisted living facility because they need a little bit of help with their daily activities, but they do not need the full-blown nursing home assistance. This type of benefit has allowed those individuals to remain as independent as possible by supplementing their monthly income to allow them to live in an assisted living environment.
If you think that you or a loved one may qualify for this benefit, contact the local Veterans Services Office in Tuscarawas County which is located at 393—16th Street, S.W., New Philadelphia, Ohio 44663; Phone: 330-339-1163 and start the application process after learning more about this potential benefit. In addition, if you need more assistance, then you may want to contact your local estate planning attorney for that assistance as well.
NOTE: This general summary of the law should not be used to solve individual problems since slight changes in the fact situation may require a material variance in the applicable legal advice.
James F. Contini II, Esq.
Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law by the OSBA
Krugliak, Wilkins, Griffiths & Dougherty Co., LPA
158 North Broadway New Philadelphia, Ohio 44663