The number of incoming retirees has complicated both pension and long-term care programs considerably. Baby Boomers’ sheer population size, coupled with their lengthening lifespans, are stretching the resources of already challenged systems. This has made it harder for many seeking assistance with long-term care. Shawn Weera, President of Shawn Weera and Associates, estimates that over two-thirds of veterans eligible for certain long-term care assistance are not receiving these benefits. One such program is the Aid and Attendance Pension granted by the Veteran Affairs (VA) office to wartime veterans to help pay for continuing medical costs. Any member of the military who was active during a recognized period of war – including World War II, the Vietnam War, and the first Gulf War – can potentially qualify for this benefit.
The Aid and Attendance Pension provides up to $1703 a month for a single veteran, and up to $2019 for a couple that includes a wartime veteran. Surviving spouses of veterans are also eligible for this benefit, for up to $1094 per month. To qualify, a veteran would have to been active for at least 90 days during their service, and at least one of those days would have to been during a congressionally recognized war. This assistance is available for either home or facility care.
As with other forms of medical assistance provided by the federal government, eligibility for the Aid and Attendance Pension is based on assets owned by the veteran or surviving spouse. However, the VA has certain different rules for measuring assets from other agencies, which provide opportunities for veterans to qualify. One such approach is seeking an annuity in order to convert assets into income.
The purpose of the Aid and Attendance program is to help alleviate long-term medical costs that put a strain on the veteran or the veteran’s family. For those who able to effectively cover the financial burden, it can leave their income severely strained, thus the Aid and Assistance Pension can reimburse them for what they have lost, and as an annuity income it is counted towards those expenses.
Shawn Weera emphasizes that veterans seek proper legal counsel before making any life-altering decisions concerning their benefits and medical expenses in order to safeguard their futures, and that of their loved ones. According to research, veterans are more likely to require continuing medical care than other seniors due to increased instances of mental illness and other diseases. This leaves them and their families especially vulnerable to financial ruin from surprise healthcare costs. However, choosing the right plan can make the difference.
Shawn Weera, JD, MFP, is an attorney based in Michigan and a nationally recognized asset protection expert. During his 15 years of practicing elder law, he has aided thousands of families in acquiring financial security and peace of mind. His firm, Shawn Weera and Associates, specializes in several different avenues of elder law, including estate planning, living trusts, and veterans’ benefits.
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