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Jul . 15

Help for Veterans and Their Spouses

The overwhelming concerns of veterans and families who come through our doors seems to be: “will I be able to pay for long-term care,” and “will I be able to take care of my spouse and family?”

Veterans have served our country, worked, raised their families and are now confronting the realities of declining health and the financial burden it can put on a family’s savings and resources.  One benefit that can help a veteran or spouse of a veteran is a little-known resource commonly referred to as “Aid and Attendance”.  I’d like to illustrate by sharing a common scenario experienced by thousands of veterans and spouses.

As an example, consider a family where the grandmother, who had previously been living autonomously at home, had declined to a point where she was now living full-time with her daughter and son-in-law. In this case, grandmother was the spouse of a World War II veteran. Caring for an aging senior can be exhausting and financially and emotionally destructive.  When the care is compounded by accelerating memory loss, the strain on a family or a marriage can become too much.  When the decision is made for the grandmother to go to a memory care facility, the questions then become, “What do we do with Grandma’s house?” and “Does Grandma have too much money to apply for this benefit?”

Frequently, by reviewing a family’s goals and evaluating their assets, I am able to determine that, with some assistance, they could qualify for Aid and Attendance.  The VA is wonderful, but extremely busy providing medical services and care.  Therefore, this financial benefit is often unfamiliar to the family or is not part of the conversation offered by medical staff whose focus is on care and treatment.

Planning the transition to long-term care can be extremely emotional for families.  Some financial considerations such as the optimal time to dispose of Grandma’s home, the likely tax consequences, and which long-term care solution would be the best for her all need to be considered.  Additionally, family are frequently reluctant to give up control, or at least to step away from the role of primary caregiver, even though the burden can become overwhelming.  

Understanding that they now have another option, this family is able to work through their difficult decision and become eligible for the VA Pension.  They are delighted when Grandma is awarded approximately $1150 per month based on her husband’s service and her sacrifice all those years ago.  This money will make all the difference in the quality of the family’s life, as well as the quality of the facilities from which they can choose.

There are many resources available to veterans who just need help completing an application.  When more in-depth planning, advice or assistance is required, it is advisable to seek the help of a qualified VA-accredited attorney.

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