Many people are surprised to find out that they qualify for aging veterans’ benefits without having a service-related disability. The VA offers benefits that can be used by a veteran or their surviving spouse to help with costs for in-home medical care, assisted living facilities and even nursing homes. Yet, these are one of the least known benefits for long-term care. According to the VA, 72% of those eligible don’t end up using these benefits they earned in service to their country.
What You Need to Know About Qualifying for Veterans Aid & Attendance
In order to qualify, you (or your spouse) needs to have served at least 90 days with one day of service occurring during these wartime periods:
• WWII: December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946
• Korea: June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955
• Vietnam: August 5, 1964 (or February 28, 1961 for those “in country”) – May 7, 1975
• Gulf War: August 2, 1990 – date determined by Congress
VA Benefits FAQ
Like many government aging programs, there is a lot of confusion around and misinformation regarding this program. Here are some frequently asked questions:
Do I need an attorney to apply for benefits? I was told I could apply on my own with the VA.
You do not have to have an attorney help you plan for VA benefits. However, many families try to apply on their own and then are denied or stuck in bureaucracy for up to 2 years. An elder law attorney accredited with the VA can help families plan ahead BEFORE applying so you can get the maximum benefits and get it as quickly as possible.
I was told that it is illegal for an attorney to charge for preparing a VA application. So, how can an attorney help?
It is true that the application must be done free of charge. However, BEFORE you file the application, an experienced attorney can help make sure all your ducks are in a row so you will qualify for the maximum benefit. Planning before the application is the key to making sure everything works properly.
Do VA benefits cover in-home care benefits?
This one of the greatest things about VA benefits! It can help pay for in-home care — even care provided by a family member other than a spouse. Many people think they can’t afford it and are overjoyed to hear how they can qualify for help at home.
Don’t I have too many assets to qualify for aid and attendance benefits?
There are asset limits, but also many planning options available. Through legal planning, such as a Veterans Protection Trust, you can rearrange your finances in order to qualify.
What are the pitfalls of applying for VA benefits?
Sometimes people can rearrange their finances to quality for VA benefits, but later need more care and then need to apply for Medicaid benefits. An experienced elder law attorney can help think ahead to keep your plan flexible if you need more care later. Financial planners who market themselves as VA planners can also cause problems. Read more about that on our blog here.
Isn’t it overwhelming to go through the application process?
It can be. Some families try it on their own and get denied. Others get caught in the endless bureaucracy. Other families intend to apply, but the process is so daunting that they never proceed, losing months or years of benefits. By working with an accredited VA and elder law attorney, you can plan ahead, make sure you get the benefits quickly, and avoid a lot of stress.
Applying for VA Benefits Can Be Complicated — We Can Help!
When applying for VA benefits and paying for long-term care, there is a lot to consider. Experienced elder law attorneys work with families facing the challenges of aging everyday. They work to find solutions that will ease the strain and bring financial and emotional relief.
If you need to speak with someone right away about your current situation, feel free to call or email us. One of our Client Coordinators will be happy to help you by phone at 217-726-9200 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.