Paying for retirement has become even more complicated, with some Kentucky nursing homes charging residents over $9,000 a month. If you are a veteran, you may qualify for important veterans’ benefits that will help you and your family as you near retirement age. A recent study found that elderly veterans miss out on up to $2,210 every month in unclaimed veterans’ benefits, including the aid and attendance benefit. It is worth looking into veterans’ benefits and ensuring that you aren’t missing out on the benefits you deserve. An experienced estate planning lawyer can help you learn whether you are missing out on veterans’ benefits. 

What is the Aid and Attendance Benefit?

Veterans and their spouses can qualify for the aid and attendance benefit. This benefit helps offset veterans’ medical costs and some assisted living and home care costs. The aid and attendance benefit’s initial purpose was to provide for elderly veterans who served our country during wartime, such as veterans of World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, and the Gulf War.

Requirements for Receiving the Aid and Attendance Benefit

The eligibility requirements for the aid and attendance benefit are different than the requirements for Medicare, Social Security, or other types of benefits. These benefits are only available for veterans who served for at least 90 consecutive days on active duty in a war. The veteran must currently be aged 65 or older, and the Veteran’s surviving spouses can also qualify for the benefit. 

Whether veterans served internationally or stateside, they can still qualify for the benefit. Even those who were not wounded and did not see combat can qualify. Veterans interested in applying for the aid and attendance benefit must receive a referral from their doctor. The doctor must affirm that the veteran or his or her spouse needs assistance in the form of nursing home care or skilled nursing services in his or her own home. 

Aid and Attendance Benefits Can Help You and Your Family

Veterans who live alone and qualify for aid and attendance benefits can receive up to $21,456 a year, which comes out to over $1,700 a month. For many retirees, this amount of money can make a big difference. Married veterans are eligible for more compensation – up to $26,550 per year. Surviving spouses who qualify for aid and attendance benefits can receive up to $13,788 a year.

Aid and attendance benefits are tax-free. Unfortunately, many veterans are unsure about whether they qualify for these benefits. Some veterans we speak to are unaware that these types of benefit plans exist. If you are unsure whether you meet the required criteria for obtaining these benefits, the lawyers at CommonWealth Elder Law can help. We will evaluate your service record and help you apply for any benefits for which you are eligible.

Veterans and Their Families are Entitled to Burial at a National Cemetery

Many veterans are unaware that they and their spouses are entitled to be buried at any national cemetery as long as there is available space. This government benefit includes the gravesite itself, the cost of opening and closing the gravesite, and a government marker or headstone. Additionally, the veteran will be entitled to the gravesite’s perpetual care, a memorial certificate, and a burial flag. These benefits come at no cost to the veteran. 

Most funeral homes are willing to help families arrange these benefits. The surviving family members of veterans will need to contact the Department of Veterans Affairs regarding the burial. The surviving family members will also need to provide the veteran’s death certificates when the veteran did not die in a Veterans Affairs health care facility. 

This is a significant benefit because it allows the veteran to be buried in a nationally-owned gravesite among other service members. It will save the surviving family a notable amount of money. However, you will still need to engage in planning to take advantage of these benefits. For example, you will need to ensure that your preferred gravesite has availability and that your estate plan covers the costs associated with your funeral that are not paid for by the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Kentucky Veterans Benefits

In addition to Federal benefits offered to veterans, each state provides additional benefit programs. The Kentucky Department of Veteran Affairs provides free professional help to veterans seeking federal and state-level benefits. Additionally, Kentucky waves tuition at all state colleges and universities for the dependents of certain qualifying veterans, such as those who died while on active duty or who died as a result of a service-connected disability. 

Those who are 100% service-connected disabled or who receive non-service-connected pension can also attend Kentucky state college for free. Some qualifying veterans and their children have moved to Kentucky to benefit from this particular veteran’s benefit. 

If you are the parents of minor children, your estate plan should consider that your children may be able to use a tuition waiver. Perhaps you would like to include a trust fund for your children that will provide them with money to put towards their housing, books, and other miscellaneous costs associated with attending college. We can help you develop an estate plan that accounts for all of your veterans’ benefits.

Contact a Kentucky Elder Law Attorney Today

At CommonWealth Elder Law, our lawyers have extensive experience in veterans affairs planning. We will evaluate your financial situation and advise you on whether you may qualify for the benefits you are not receiving. We will guide you through the process of obtaining these benefits. We will discuss some of the veterans’ benefits we have helped our clients obtain. If you are a veteran, we will help ensure you are receiving all of the benefits you deserve. Contact our Kentucky elder law attorneys today to schedule your initial consultation.