VA Pension Assistance
As a general rule, to qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit and other pensions, a family's assets cannot exceed $80,000. The primary home and vehicles can be excluded when determining net worth. It is worth noting that $80,000 is not a hard limit. The final determination also considers a veteran's age, care expenses, and life expectancy. Veterans with less than that amount have been denied and veterans who assets exceed that limit have been accepted.
A veteran’s net worth, according to the VA, includes assets in bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and property other than the veteran's primary residence and vehicle. It is also worth noting that veterans' pension eligibility differs from Medicaid's asset test; Medicaid "looks-back" at an applicant's past asset transfers for up to 5 years preceding their application. At present, the VA does not have a look-back period although legislation has been introduced proposing a 3 year look-back period.
If one's assets are near the eligibility limit, it is strongly recommended they consult with a veterans' pension planner prior to application to ensure the greatest possibility of acceptance.
VA Pension Benefit Amounts and Limits for 2017
There are no restrictions on how VA pension benefits can be used provided it is for the benefit of the veteran or their surviving spouse. It can be applied toward skilled nursing, assisted living, in home or adult day care or to modify the home to accommodate for a disability. VA Pensions are paid out monthly by check or by direct deposit. Payments are made to the veteran or their surviving spouse, they are not made to their care or service providers. VA Pensions can be used to pay any family member as a caregiver with the exception of spouses. The VA allows beneficiaries to deduct their care expenses from their income and payments made to family members are considered deductible care expenses. Beneficiaries then receive an increased pension benefit equal to the amount they have paid to their family member for care.
Unfortunately, this method does not work for spouses, since income is calculated as household income. If one were to pay a spouse for care, the income the spouse received would still be considered part of their household income and the beneficiary would receive no increase in the pension amount.
Burgos & Brein is the leading financial advisor and retirement planning firm in Apopka, Clermont, Kissimmee, Lake Mary, Maitland, Ocoee, Orlando, Oviedo, Windermere and Winter Park specializing in VA pension assistance.