Estate planning for veterans is unique. Many veterans are entitled to special benefits from Veteran’s Affairs that can help them during retirement. Taking the time to engage in Veterans’ Affairs planning can help you make sure that you are using all of your benefits to their full extent.
Elderly veterans and their surviving spouses might be eligible for several different financial assistance programs offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The biggest and least well-known program is the Aid and Attendance Program that offers a monthly pension.
Our Legal Team can Help
At CommonWeath Elder, our legal team can help. We understand that it can be overwhelming to think about estate planning as a veteran. Trying to figure out which programs to which you need to apply and how to apply can be challenging.
Our legal team will review your situation and advise you as to whether or not you qualify for benefits. If you do, we can help you apply for Aid and Attendance Benefits. We can also help you create an estate plan that takes your status as a veteran into account and benefits you and your family for years to come. Contact our legal team as soon as possible to schedule your initial consultation.
What is the Veterans Aid and Attendance Program?
Congress created the Veterans Aid and Attendance (A & A) program to provide monthly benefits to veterans and their surviving spouses. A & A benefits consist of monthly cash payments. If you qualify, you will receive monthly pension benefits up to $1,794 per month. Surviving spouses of qualifying veterans can receive up to $1,153 per month.
Couples can receive up to $2,127 per month for each couple. These funds are essential for many veterans to live comfortably as they age. A & A funds can also help veterans and their spouses subsidize their home health care costs.
Who Qualifies for the Veterans Aid and Attendance Program?
The A & A program is a federal program that provides benefits for veterans throughout the United States. Wartime veterans with at least 90 days of active duty service on the record qualify for an A & A pension. Wartime service means that the veteran’s time spent on active duty either began or ended or both, during a period of war.
What Counts as a Period of War?
The Department of Veterans Affairs sets out the specific beginning and ending dates for periods of war, as follows:
- The period of war for World War II begins on December 7, 1941, through December 31, 1946.
- The period of war for the Korean Conflict runs from June 27, 1950, through January 31, 1955
- The period war for the Vietnam Era is from August 5, 1964, through May 7, 1975
- For those veterans who served in the country of Vietnam before August 5, 1964, the period of war is February 28, 1961, through May 7, 1975
Can a Veteran Younger Than Age 65 Receive a Pension?
Yes, veterans who are younger than age 65 need to be declared totally disabled to receive the Pension. Veterans under the age of 65 who receive Social Security Disability Insurance and have a total disability rating can submit evidence of their rating. Veterans will also be able to submit medical evidence to prove that they are totally disabled.
Does a Veteran Age 65 or Older Need to be Disabled to Receive Benefits?
Veterans who are over the age of 65 do not need to prove that they are disabled. Single surviving spouses who are applying for the benefit do not need to be disabled or meet a certain age requirement for the spouse to qualify.
Requirements for Surviving Spouses
Surviving spouses must have been married for at least a year. Or, they must have had a child together as a result of the marriage, regardless of the time of the marriage. In some cases, the VA will allow spouses in common-law marriages to receive pension benefits. The surviving spouse will need to prove that the couple held themselves out as married and can prove their intent. The spouse must have been married to the veteran at the time the veteran died.
The surviving spouse must have continuously lived with their veteran spouse while they were married. If the couple separated due to the fault of the veteran, the spouse can still qualify for benefits. The spouse will need to provide evidence that the separation was caused by the veteran spouse.
If the surviving spouse remarried after the veteran’s death, they will not qualify for benefits, even if the surviving spouse is currently unmarried. Only one exception to this rule exists. If the surviving spouse remarried after the death of the veteran and that marriage became terminated through death or divorce before November 1, 1990, the spouse will qualify. The surviving spouse must have remained single to become eligible.
Meeting the Financial and Health Requirements
Veterans will also need to meet one or more of the following requirements to qualify:
- They need help eating, taking medication, dressing, and their hygiene
- They are bedridden
- They are currently a patient in a nursing home
- They have vision problems that are severe enough to meet the requirements
Applications need to include a medical evaluation from a medical doctor. Veterans or their surviving spouses must have less than $80,00 in assets to qualify. Their homes and vehicles are excluded from this limit. The veteran’s monthly income must be less than the Maximum
Pension Rate (MAPR). Supplemental Security Income and welfare benefits do not count towards the veteran’s income. Additionally, qualifying medical expenses can be deducted from the veteran’s income when determining his or her income level.
Contact our A & A Benefit Lawyers
At CommonWeath Elder, our Veterans’ Affairs planning lawyers can help have extensive experience helping our clients apply for veteran-related benefits like Aid and Attendance benefits. Contact our law firm today to schedule your initial consultation to learn how we can help you.