Veteran’s Benefits Qualifiers
How do we know if we qualify? The veteran has to be enlisted for at least 90 days of active duty, that is important to realize, this is not the reserves this is active duty. You have to have 90 days of active enlistment; one of those has to have been during a war time period. In Herschel’s case, he was in Korea. So let’s say, for instance, you’ve got 90 days of enlistment and the va sets their war time dates, and these dates might be a little surprising, they are a little broader than what you might think. So don’t just automatically discount and say, “Oh, well it was around Korea but it right as it was ending.” or “right after World War II”, especially the World War II, the end date on that is what a lot us would not think what that is. So definitely take a look and see, well you can just google, “va Aid and Attendance war time dates” and find out what those are, so don’t discount that. Only one day, so 90 days is your total enlistment, only one of those days has to have fallen during a war time period. So, you can get in there by the skin of your teeth by one day, potentially, of war time service. Other important thing to realize is it doesn’t mean that the person was on the beaches of Normandy, they could have been sitting behind a desk at Devens. If they were enlisted on active duty during a war time period, that counts, you didn’t have to be holding guns and shooting people. You have to have other then dishonorable discharge. Before I started doing this work I didn’t realize there was anything that was, it was honorable or dishonorable, but there’s some grey area, as long as it’s not dishonorable you’re ok. There must be limited income and assets and it’s kind of a moving target of $80,000 in resources, I’m going to come back to that in just a second. There must be a permanent and total disability of the veteran at the time of the application. Over 65, you are presumed disabled. So, if you’re client, we’re not going to for any of us, but if the client is over 65 years of age, you’re presumed permanently disability, same for Medicaid, all you’ve got to do is prove your age and you’re good to go. And the disability has to be caused without the willful misconduct of the claimant, so if someone is drunk and falls and gets a concussion, now needs Aid and Attendance, “Sorry, that was your own willful misconduct”, so there’s the example on that. Income limits, the allowable income limit will vary by benefit program, it varies whether you’re going for that Low Income Pension, the Homebound, or the Aid and Attendance; but we’re looking just here on the Aid and Attendance. The important thing to realize on va benefits, is they consider your income to be the amount of your gross income after subtracting all your medical expenses, so that’s why this quote unquote works. So when we’re looking at income for purposes of va, let’s say I have $2,000 a month in income but I am paying the average $4,000 a month to the assisted living. So, the va then says that I have negative $2,000 a month in income. That’s their baseline determination in looking at income, they don’t say, “Heather has $2,000 a month in income”, they say, “Heather’s income is defined as her income after all medical expenses are backed out”, so I have negative income. As long as I fall in to that negative income category, I can get va Aid and Attendance benefits. Depending on how negative that number ends up being, it determines the amount that I can get. Those other figures that we had, so say for the couple that was $2,054 a month, if we take their income and subtract out their medical expenses and then it turns out that their negative is only $1,000 a month, they’re only going to get $1,000 a month benefit. So, va says, “You pay what you can pay and then we will help you make up the difference but only to a certain amount”. Put all that back together again, let’s say I’m a widow and I have $2,000 a month in income and I am paying $4,000 a month for assisted living, my income is negative $2,000 but the only va benefit available to me, the maximum benefit is $1,113, so that’s all I’m going to get. I’m still going to have some sort of short fall there, va doesn’t just step in and say, ”You pay what you can pay and we will make up the difference no matter how much it is”, they say, “You pay what you can pay and then we will make up the difference up to this figure”, so that’s how it works. As you can see, the kind of things that count for medical expenses, it’s not just the assisted living because we might have somebody who has $3,000 a month in income and the assisted living is $4,000 a month, so we’ve only got a $1,000 shortfall. But by time you deduct not just the assisted living, you can deduct all of these other things too. They have to be recurring medical expenses; so the big ones are prescriptions, incontinence fees, the medical premiums, that Medicare premium that gets withheld from Social Security as well as the Medicare supplement, both of those will count. So if you got someone who’s close, don’t forget to add in these other things too.