Estate and Long-Term Care Planning for Veterans

People often come into our office wondering if military veterans are permitted to use their Department of Veterans Affairs benefits to help cover the cost of long-term care? The answer is, unfortunately, complicated. For example, a much-underused pension benefit known as Aid and Attendance can provide some money to cover costs for daily living assistance. Aid and Attendance benefits may even be available to veterans with incomes above the eligibility limit if they have a large enough medical expense(s).

VA benefits may also pay for veterans without service-related disabilities but who cannot pay the cost for necessary care. Some requirements for Aid and Attendance as a pension include veterans who served a minimum of ninety days with at least one day during wartime and the veteran applicant must have an honorable or general discharge to qualify for these benefits. The veteran did not have to see actual combat, but did need to serve for a certain amount of time. To find out about eligibility requirements, click here to visit the va.gov website’s eligibility section.

Typically, long-term care services for veterans occur in home settings because care facilities are limited due to availability, staffing issues, and a failure of the US long-term care marketplace to provide quality long-term facility care at reasonable prices. At-home care has two programs that help veterans.

Veteran Aid and Attendance Benefits

The first in-home care option, as mentioned, is Aid and Attendance Benefits (A&A Benefits) coupled with Housebound allowance. These services include caregiver assistance and personal care. The program provides money to eligible veterans with disabilities and their surviving spouses to purchase at-home and community-based services.

Veteran Directed Care Program

The second at-home care program is the Veteran Directed Care Program, which provides veterans with a flexible budget for purchasing services provided by the Aging Network in partnership with the VA. The program is available to veterans of all ages who need at-home and community-based services, such as counseling, help with daily living activities, and more.

While not all long-term care programs are for at-home settings, many veterans are more comfortable receiving aid in their own homes, especially if a spouse or other family member is available for ad hoc caregiving. Veterans who live alone with failing health may benefit from care at a nursing home, assisted living center, adult health center, or private homes with caregiver support. Some of these facilities will be run directly by the VA, while others are VA-approved state or community organizations.

Long-term care services for qualifying sick or disabled veterans

  • 24/7 nursing and medical care
  • Help with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, personal care, dressing, taking medications, and making meals
  • Pain management and comfort care
  • Caregiver support

Planning for long-term care through VA benefits can be complex. Doing it alone might mean you miss potential eligible care options. The most comprehensive solutions generally come from elder law attorneys who specialize in VA benefits. Here at Michaelson Law, our attorneys are VA-accredited and stand ready to help you or a Veteran loved one get the care they need and deserve.

In addition to VA long-term care benefits, your attorney may be able to ensure additional services not covered by the VA but may be available through Medicare, Medicaid, or a private insurance policy. Our estate planning and elder law attorneys can help you or your loved one navigate all of these options.

The Importance of Long-term Care Planning for Veterans

According to Forbes, there is only a five percent application rate for these assistance funds programs. Why? Many veterans miss out on long-term care benefits because they are unaware of the programs or don’t know how to determine if they qualify. Knowing about the programs and determining if you qualify, locating the necessary paperwork, filling it out, and filing applications can be daunting and confusing. Incorrectly filed applications can delay the process of receiving benefits when veterans need it most. If you don’t know where to begin, VeteranAid.org is an online free resource for veterans and their surviving spouses and families. The website details A&A Pension Benefits and how to apply – it is a good first step, and a VA-accredited attorney can help to answer any questions you may have when reviewing the website.

If you are a veteran or have a loved one who is a veteran, it is imperative to maximize the long-term care benefits that you or your loved one deserve for their military service. The sooner you can identify what is available and eligible to you, the quicker you can fill out the applications and get the process of receiving VA long-term care benefits. Similar to all estate and long-term care planning, the sooner your address the situation, the better the outcome will be. Contact an elder law attorney specializing in veteran’s benefits at Michaelson Law today and get the long-term care needed for you or your veteran loved one.

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