Paying for Long-Term Care for Veterans

Article written by Kevin O’Donnell, Esq.

           Assisted living facilities and nursing homes have become astonishingly expensive.  If you are a veteran and struggling to plan for how to pay for long-term care costs without spending all of your hard earned money, you may qualify for a relatively unknown benefit called Aid and Attendance.  Aid and Attendance provides supplemental income and/or assistance with the cost of nursing homes and assisted living facilities if you meet strict eligibility rules.  

            Unfortunately, the eligibility rules for Aid and Attendance are complicated.  The good news is we are here to assist.  If you believe Aid and Attendance might be right for you or your loved one, we suggest meeting with one of our Elder Law attorneys to discuss whether you are eligible for Aid and Attendance, whether Aid and Attendance is right for you, and how to plan so that you can be eligible in the future without spending down all of your assets.

            What is Aid and Attendance?

            Aid and Attendance is a program through the Department of Veterans Affairs which provides eligible veterans with supplemental income and/or assistance with long-term care.  To be eligible for aid and attendance:

            (1)        you must not have been dishonorably discharged, must have served at least 90 days active duty with at least one day served during a declared state of war, and must be either disabled or over the age of 65;

            (2)        you must have a medical condition that requires “the regular attendance of another person” to assist in activities of daily living (“ADLs”); and

            (3)        you must be financially eligible based on the VA’s asset and income rules.

            Am I financially eligible?

            If you want to determine whether you are financially eligible, it is imperative you meet with one of our Elder Law attorneys because the VA’s asset and income rules are quite complicated and have recently changed.  A full discussion of the changes is beyond the scope of this newsletter, but the new rules changed eligibility for Aid and Attendance in three significant ways.

            (1)        In order to be eligible, a veteran’s “net worth” (which includes annual income) must now be less than $123,600.  Previously, the VA considered a Veteran’s net worth on a case-by- case basis, weighing the veteran’s (or the surviving spouse’s) life expectancy against the rate his or her assets were being exhausted by long-term care and other deductible expenses.

            (2)        The VA now imposes a three-year look-back period (similar to Medicaid’s five-year look-back period) to prevent a veteran from qualifying from Aid and Attendance by reducing net worth by giving away assets. Previously, there was no formal look-back period.

            (3)        The VA now only excludes two acres of a veteran’s personal residence from the calculation of “net worth.”  If a veteran’s residential lot area exceeds two acres, the value of additional land is included in calculation of the veteran’s net worth.  Previously, the entire value of a veteran’s personal residence was excluded regardless of its size.

            If you are a veteran and want to know more about how Aid and Attendance can assist with the costs of long-term care, contact us today to schedule a conversation with one of our Elder Law attorneys.  While every situation is different, our Elder Law attorneys can determine (1) whether Aid and Attendance is the best program for you;  (2) whether you are eligible for Aid and Attendance; and (3) how to best plan so that do not have to spend down your assets to become eligible for Aid and Attendance in the future.