Many people celebrated Veteran’s Day last weekend, and from my experience as a veteran, and working with fellow veterans, we really appreciate it when people recognize the sacrifices that veterans have made. Our veterans go out to fight for what they believe in, and risk their lives to provide us with this liberty which is often taken for granted.
It is unfortunate and sad that some veterans feel they have been forgotten. When veterans leave military service, I feel that they could be treated better, and I believe we need to help veterans by creating an awareness of the benefit programs available to them. The two things veterans should know about, is the Aid and Attendance Program, and the Camp LeJeune claims.
What is Camp LeJeune?
Camp LeJeune is a marine base that has been in existence for a long time. The water was found to be contaminated between 1953 and 1987. Marines and their families stationed there, were affected by drinking the water. Those people now have health care issues as a result. Generally, citizens cannot sue the Federal Government unless legislation opens certain claims, as was the case when the Camp LeJeune Act was passed in August 2022. This allows veterans and their families to pursue claims against the US Government for healthcare issues suffered by the veterans and their families from their stay at Camp LeJeune.
Could This Be You?
We encourage you if you or your family member was in service during that period, and who is now a senior, to make a claim. Even if the veteran who served is now deceased, their family can still make a claim. Please give us a call at 724 546 4227, so we can get you the help you need, if you were a Marine at Camp LeJeune. Don’t let this opportunity to claim pass you by.
What is the Aid and Attendance Benefit?
The Aid and Attendance program (also known as Improved Pension) is a Pension that is available for veterans who may need custodial long term care. The idea behind it is that veterans should not have to live in poverty in their senior years, as a result of needing long-term care. There are 3 tiers to this program, which include the Base Improved Pension; the Housebound Benefit for those who have mobility issues and are housebound; as well as Aid and Attendance, for those who need help with activities in daily living.
If a senior needs care, there are only 3 payment sources available. You can either pay privately, you can get insurance or you can get government benefits. Veteran’s benefits are only available for veterans who are eligible, while Medicaid is the government program available for everyone.
What are the Eligibility Requirements?
The eligibility for veterans benefits is complicated. The service requirements are such that you would have needed to have 90 days of continuous active duty, one day of which would needed to have been during a period of war. Any period after 1991 is considered a period of war.
Another requirement is if you are totally and permanently disabled. The Veteran’s Administration considers anybody over the age of 65 to be totally and permanently disabled, regardless of whether they are, but it makes for a reasonably easy qualification to get benefits.
What are the Benefits?
In terms of the benefits of this program, as a single veteran, you get $2050 per month. This amount goes towards your long-term care expenses, which is not taxable. For married people, the monthly contribution increases to $2431. There are also benefits for the surviving spouse of a veteran, where they receive $1317 for long term care expenses. Unlike Medicaid, which only pays for care in a skilled nursing facility, as a veteran this monthly benefit is available to use to pay for care at home, an assisted living facility or a personal care home. It is otherwise difficult to get money from the state to pay for these levels of care.
What are the Asset & Income Limitations?
In addition to the eligibility requirements to receive Aid and Attendance, there is also an asset or net worth limitation. The limitation is based on the amount of about $138,000, which includes both assets and income. This means that a veteran cannot be eligible to receive benefits, until their net worth is down to $138,000. As a result, they often end paying privately, while spending down their savings on long term care if they need it. If a veteran had $130,000 of assets, and $25,000 of annual income, this totals $163,000 which is more than the net worth limit allowed. As a result, the veteran is not eligible for benefits.
How Sechler Law Firm Can Help You!
The amount of $138,000 is a fair amount, but there are some veterans who may have a retirement account with a few hundred thousand dollars in value. It doesn’t seem fair that veterans have to pay privately for care, spending their savings, and going broke before the Government helps them. How we at Sechler Law Firm help veterans, is by doing some asset protection planning with them.
This is important, especially if veterans may need some long-term care in a few years, due to the 3 year look-back period. Maybe they have early onset dementia, or have mobility issues. The planning we do involves moving assets into trusts. In that way, if the veteran needs care in 5 years, they become eligible without having to spend down. After 3 years, the Veteran’s Administration cannot access the money either.
Don’t Do this on your Own!
The application process for these veteran benefits is a challenge. For this reason I advise you to not do this on your own. There are many veteran service operations that help you to apply. If you are a veteran, or you know a veteran, please ask them to reach out to us. Call us at 724 546 4227 or visit our website.
If you have any questions, we urge you to come to one of our Estate Planning and Asset Protection workshops. Register here: sechlerlawfirm.com/workshops. We believe it is important to provide the education, for you to then make an informed decision.