VA Benefits Planning
The typical Estate Planning Attorney is not planning your estate with an eye towards long-term care. Therefore, few of them are knowledgeable about the VA Improved Pension benefit (sometimes called Aid and Attendance). The VA Pension benefit is a sometimes life-changing tool that can be used to enhance the quality of the Veteran’s (or their loved ones) life.
An attorney providing advice relating to a Veteran’s claim for benefits must be accredited by the VA. Attorney Laura L. Bromlow is so accredited by the VA and can lawfully provide advice in this arena.
The Veteran’s Pension benefit is one that is available to the country’s veterans who served in active duty during a war period and who meet certain financial eligibility. This benefit is a “thank you” gift our country has decided to give to our veterans at a time when they most need assistance.
VA Planning Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What are the qualifications for the Veteran’s Improved Pension Benefit?
Answer: To receive the Veterans Improved Pension Benefit, the veteran must have served actively in the military during a wartime period. The veteran must have been other than dishonorably discharged. In addition, the veteran must be 65 years of age or older OR totally and permanently disabled OR a patient in a nursing home receiving skilled nursing care OR receiving SSDI OR receiving SSI. Finally, there are income and net worth limits that the veteran must not exceed.
Question: What about the spouse or children of a veteran? Are the benefits that they may be eligible for?
Answer: Yes. There is also a survivor’s benefit that is available. This benefit is known as the Survivors Pension benefit or the Death Pension. It is a benefit available to the surviving spouse or children of the deceased Veteran. In order to be eligible for this benefit, the surviving spouse must meet the income and net worth limits and remain unmarried. The surviving children must also meet the income and net income requirements and be unmarried as well. In addition, the children must be under the age of 18 OR under the age of 23 and attending a VA-approved school OR permanently incapable of supporting themselves due to a disability that was incurred prior to turning 18.
Question: I don’t think I meet the income and net worth limits. Is there any way for me to obtain the benefits regardless?
Answer: Unless you meet the financial requirements, you will not be able to receive the VA Pension benefit. However, an Elder Law attorney who is versed in VA pension benefits and is accredited by the VA can give advice regarding the benefit and whether certain estate planning techniques can be utilized to qualify you for the benefit. The Elder Law attorney should review with you, the pros and cons of doing this type of planning allowing you to determine whether you want to pursue it.
Question: How much should I expect to pay for assistance in completing my application for this benefit?
Answer: You cannot, by law, be charged for assistance in completing your application for the VA pension benefit. You may, however, be charged for any estate planning you need to do in order to qualify for the pension. The price for such estate planning depends on the work being conducted. The assistance for completing the application must be done free of charge.
Question: My disability is not related to my military service. Am I still eligible for the pension benefit?
Answer: If you are otherwise eligible for the VA Pension benefit, your disability being unrelated to your military service will not prevent you from receiving the benefit. There is no requirement that your disability be connected with your service in the military.
Question: How do I choose a qualified Elder Law attorney to assist me in qualifying, and applying, for VA Improved Pension benefits?
Answer: First, remember that the attorney must be accredited by the VA. Go to this link to see if your attorney is accredited: VA Accreditation. You also want your attorney to be active in certain organizations that are involved with elder advocacy. You want your elder law attorney to be up-to-date on the legal issues and changes as they occur. NAELA (National Association of Elder Law Attorneys) and CANHR (California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform) are two organizations that provide attorney education and support. There are also other organizations such as ElderCounsel that provide education for Elder Law Attorneys. Attorney Laura L. Bromlow is a member of all three of these organizations and keeps herself abreast of the changing law affecting elders and their loved ones. For more information contact the attorneys of Lanzone Morgan, LLP to see how they can assist with your VA Benefits Planning matter.