Veteran’s Pension Benefits
Improved Pension: Aid & Attendance
For the Improved Pension, the veteran must qualify medically, financially, and have served for a time on active duty. The medical requirement is satisfied if the veteran is at least 65 years of age or needs help with at least two activities of daily living. The financial requirement is met if the applicant’s income does not exceed the MAPR (Maximum Annual Pension Rate) and the veteran has $40,000 in assets or less. If the veteran is so disabled that he/she cannot be left alone safely, the veteran will qualify for the additional pension benefit known as Aid and Attendance. Also, the applicant must meet the service requirement of 90 days (24 months after September 7, 1980) of service during which one day was on “active duty”. There are exceptions to the service requirement that your Elder Law attorney can go over with you. Widows of veterans can also qualify for the Improved Pension if their spouse would have qualified while alive.
Applicants with too many resources can spend down to $40,000 or less by making strategic gifts to an irrevocable trust. Under existing legislation there is no penalty exacted for making gifts. This is slated to change sometime in the Fall of 2017. Regulations were proposed last year that are similar to Medicaid’s requirement that gifts made in the five-year period leading up to the application date are penalized. The penalty period is expressed as a waiting period during which the applicant must pay full price for their care until the waiting period is over. Applicants whose income is greater than the MAPR are allowed to deduct the yearly cost of care from the annualized amount of income to meet the income requirement.
These two pensions are a great help to the men and women who have served our country. Please note that anyone assisting a veteran with the application process itself cannot charge a fee. Also, anyone filing the application must be a certified VA (Veteran) pension planner. There are non-profit organizations that do just the application process for free. Elder Law attorneys are allowed to charge a fee for the legal work undertaken (gifts to trust) in order for the applicant to meet the asset requirement.
We are honored to help veterans qualify for these justly earned pensions through their selfless service to our country.