Many older veterans are unaware that they can qualify for financial help in paying for the cost of home care. Most veterans completed their military service and moved on with their lives without looking to VA for any help. But VA pension benefits can become important for these veterans in later life.
To qualify for VA pension the veteran must be 65 or older (or permanently and totally disabled for reasons not related to military service). In addition the veteran must have low income and only modest net worth. The veteran must have had 90 days of military service that included at least one day during a period of war.
To receive a pension, the veteran’s income must be below the maximum annual pension rate (MAPR) set by the government. The pension program is designed to bring the veteran’s income up to that allowance. An increase in the MAPR is available to veterans (and widows of veterans) who are housebound or are in need of “aid and attendance.”
In determining the amount of the veterans income the VA will allow the deduction of unreimbursed amounts the veteran has paid for “medical expenses.” Depending on the circumstances medical expenses can include home nursing services such as assisting an individual with bathing, dressing, feeding and other activities of daily living.
Because medical expenses reduce countable income, an aging veteran who needs (or whose spouse needs) ongoing long term care services and supports may now be able to qualify for financial assistance from the VA. The extra funds can make all the difference in allowing the veteran to get the support needed to remain at home.
Pension eligibility is often overlooked because people are not aware of it at all or do not know that countable income is reduced by your out of pocket medical expenses. Pension benefits can also be available for a veteran who resides in an assisted living facility – where the entire cost may be deductible.
Pension, aid and attendance and housebound benefits can be a godsend for middle-income wartime veterans who are depleting their savings to cover health care costs. Our veteran earned these benefits by serving our nation during a time of war. Let’s make sure they get what they deserve.
For more information on VA pension benefits you can check with your County Director of Veterans’ Affairs, a Veterans Service Organization, or a lawyer who has been accredited by the VA. My law firm of Marshall, Parker and Weber has three lawyers on staff who have been VA accredited.