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Long-Term Care Planning – Frequently Asked Questions
Veterans Disability Pension (“Aid and Attendance”)

1. Does the Department of Veterans Affairs have any benefits that pay for long-term care?

The VA operates two disability benefits that can be used to pay for long-term care:

Disability Compensation is for “Service Connected” conditions, and has no financial eligibility requirements.

Disability Pension is available to certain wartime veterans for Non-Service Connected conditions, and does have financial eligibility requirements.

2. Who is eligible for Disability Pension from the VA?

The Disability Pension provides benefits for certain veterans and surviving spouses (or other dependents) who:

  • are sufficiently low income; and
  • are 65 or older; or
  • are permanently and totally disabled.

3. How much is the Disability Pension benefit?

In 2011, Aid & Attendance can provide TAX-FREE income of up to:

  • $985 to $1,644 per month to a veteran
  • $661 to $1,056 per month to a surviving spouse
  • $1,291 to $1,949 per month to a veteran & spouse
  • The benefit is based on net monthly income and the veteran’s level of care.

4. Does it matter when the veteran served or how long the veteran served?

  • The applicable veteran must have:
  • Been on Active Duty for at least 90 continuous days (24 continuous months if entered active duty after 9/8/80 for enlisted, 10/16/81 for officers) (exceptions for award of Purple Heart, death and disability);
  • One day of which was during a period of War; and
  • Received Discharge under conditions other than dishonorable.

5. What are the official periods of War for the wartime service eligibility requirement?

  • WWI 6-Apr-1917 through 11-Nov-1918
  • WWII 7-Dec-1941 through 31-Dec-1946
  • Korea 27-Jun-1950 through 31-Jan-1955
  • Vietnam 5-Aug-1964 through 7-May-1975
  • Persian Gulf 2-Aug-1990 through TBD

6. What if someone served during wartime, but not in the military?

There are many WWII-era service organizations that may also qualify for “wartime service” for purposes of the Disability Pension, including:

  • Merchant Marines
  • Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs)

These individuals must have received a discharge by the Secretary of Defense

7. How does level of care impact the amount of the benefit?

Additional “Housebound” allowance is available when:

  • Claimant is substantially confined to home;
  • Due to disability or disabilities; and
  • Disability is reasonably certain to last for life.

Higher “Aid & Attendance” allowance is available when claimant is:

  • In nursing home (or assisted living facility); or
  • Blind or nearly so; or

Permanently and totally disabled, or age 65 and over, and in regular need of aid & attendance.

8. Are there any asset limitations for Disability Pension Benefits?

Unlike Medicaid, the VA has no specific asset limitation numbers. For VA purposes, the question is whether the veteran’s (and spouse’s) assets (excluding home and vehicle), exceed the VA eligibility worker’s subjective determination of how much money the veteran will need, based on life expectancy and unreimbursed medical expenses.

9. Are there any income limitations for Disability Pension Benefits?

Eligibility may be established from an income standpoint as long as household countable income is less than the Maximum Allowable Pension Rate (MAPR).

MAPR varies based on whether or not there is a “housebound” or “aid and attendance” rating, and whether or not there are any dependents.

10. What is Countable Income for VA purposes?

Countable Income is determined by deducting Unreimbursed (think “out of pocket”), Recurring medical expenses, from monthly income, including the following:

  • Health Insurance Premiums (including Medicare)
  • Insurance & Prescription Co-Pays
  • Assisted Living Facility and Nursing Home fees
  • In-Home care costs

11. Does the VA have a Lookback Period or penalize uncompensated transfers?

There is no “Lookback Period” for VA purposes as there is for Medicaid.

There are no “Transfer of Asset” Penalties.

Excess Resources can be spent down.

Always consider MEDICAID consequences of any planning.

12. What Documents will I need in order to apply for VA benefits?

The Veteran’s Discharge/Separation Papers (DD-214)

Marriage Certificate & Death Certificate (for surviving spouses)

Current Social Security benefit statement and proof of income from other sources (e.g. pension, retirement, annuity, interest, dividends)

Current statements for all available financial accounts

Proof of Out-of-Pocket Medical Expenses

Physician statement regarding Claimant’s current diagnosis, medical status, prognosis, ability to care for self vs. required assistance with various Activities of Daily Living, ability to travel unattended, etc.