Little Known Benefits for Veterans and Their Widows

Part 2

Veterans and their widows are likely to be able to become eligible for a government program that pays a portion of their long term care costs.  In December we discussed Veteran’s Pension.   Officially it is called the Non-Service Connected Pension Benefit and has been available since the 1950’s.  You probably have never heard of it – the government has done a good job at keeping it a secret.

What are the benefits?  If you need long term care you may be eligible for the following amounts:

Veteran – Single   $19,736 per year

Veteran – Married  $23,396 per year

Widow of Veteran $12,681 per year

These amounts are tax free and increase with inflation each year, at the same rate as increases in social security benefits.  There was no increase in 2010.

There are lesser amounts available if you don’t need long term care assistance; however, these amounts are for very low income veterans and widows.  I won’t go into the benefits for low income veterans/widows in this article but if you know someone who may qualify please contact our office and we will do what we can to help.

How Do You Qualify?

There are four basic qualifications: 1) military service, 2) medical, 3) income, 4) assets.

Military Service The veteran needs to have served for 90 days consecutive service with only 1 day during a time of war.  Typically we see veterans who served during World War II, Korea and Vietnam.  Any service (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Cost Guard, and even some Merchant Marine service) or duty is eligible.  Service need not be combat related.  You could have driven trucks in Kansas and still qualify.  WAVES and WACS are eligible as well.

Medical – In order to qualify for the maximum benefit the veteran or widow should require long term care assistance.  If you are in an assisted living, nursing home, memory care facility or even receiving home care you likely qualify medically.  If the spouse of the veteran needs long term care assistance the veteran may qualify for a lesser benefit.

If you don’t need long term care now this benefit is a great “insurance policy” in case you do need it in the future.

Income – If the cost of the long term care facility or home care exceeds your income, then you likely will qualify for the entire benefit.  We can analyze your situation to see if there is anything that can be done to help you qualify.

Assets – The $80,000 myth.  Few people know about this benefit and even fewer know what they are talking about.  Many people in the long term care community will tell you that you won’t qualify if you have more than $80,000 in assets excluding your house.  This is simply wrong. We can help most middle class veterans/widows legally qualify with some financial planning to make your assets “VA Friendly.” This is our specialty, helping middle class veterans qualify for this benefit so they don’t have to spend down their life savings before they can qualify.

What About Medicaid?

Ideally you won’t need Medicaid assistance if you need long term care and qualify for the VA Pension.  However, a well designed long term care plan should include the possibility that your cost of care may increase substantially and you may need additional assistance.  We design long term care plans for veterans/widows and non-veterans so that your long term care expenses are paid for without you going broke.

In Part 3 we discuss

How Medicaid Works and How Does it Fit Into Your Long Term Care Plan?

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