“Aid & Attendance” and “Housebound” are special Veterans Programs designed to help veterans and their surviving spouses receive the financial support necessary to ensure continuing care in their own home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home setting. Benefits may also be available for house-bound individuals that require daily assistance to maintain their health, dignity and safety.
The Application Process
Application for Aid and Attendance or Housebound Benefits is a complex process. The forms are available for you to do this yourself, but be advised that if you apply, and your application is denied, you must wait an entire year before you can reapply. For these reasons, many people seek assistance in completing the application. It is illegal for anyone to charge you a fee to help complete the application or file for benefits.
The Law Office of Brian C. Perlin, P.A. can assist with you with this process – at no cost to you.
How Much Could You Receive?
The cost of assisted living, nursing home or home health care can be substantial. In fact, a 2013 survey conducted by Genworth Financial found that the national median monthly rate for a one-bedroom apartment in an assisted living facility runs $3,450, the national median daily rate for a semi-private nursing home room is $207, and the national median hourly rate for a licensed home health aide is $19. Aid and Attendance Benefits could help defray these types of costs for qualified veterans and their surviving spouses.
Who is Eligible for Veterans Benefits?
There are three aspects of eligibility – Service, Medical and Financial.
Service. The basic service qualification is that the veteran must have served at least 90 days of active military duty, with at least one of those days during wartime (as defined by the Veteran’s Administration). Additionally, the veteran must have received a discharge that was other than dishonorable.
Medical. The veteran or surviving spouse must show that they require the “aid and attendance” of another person to perform the basic activities of daily living. The VA defines the need for aid and attendance as:
- Requiring the aid of another person to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting prosthetic devices or protecting himself/herself from the hazards of his/her daily environment, or
- Being blind or nearly blind, or
- Being bedridden, in that his/her disability or disabilities requires that he/she remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment, or
- Being a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity.
Financial. A person requesting the benefit must have a financial need. Each application is evaluated individually. In addition to the asset test, there also is an income test. While there is no specified income limit, the VA considers what it refers to as IVAP – Income for VA Purposes. IVAP is equal to your gross income from all sources, less a portion of unreimbursed medical expenses. If your IVAP is not less than the annual benefit amount, you will not be eligible for benefits.
How Can I Qualify for Veterans Benefits?
What if you are service and medically eligible, but have too many assets or too much income to qualify? You may consider rearranging your assets and/or income to qualify, which may include re-titling or giving away assets, or establishing a Veterans Administration Aid and Attendance Pensions Benefits Trust. Making these types of changes is perfectly legal, but doing so properly can be complicated. Beware that some actions taken to qualify for VA benefits could create a penalty period, or perhaps even disqualify you entirely from receiving Medicaid benefits should they be needed.
South Florida Estate Planning Attorney Brian C. Perlin, assists clients with Estate Planning, Elder Law, Probate Court, Probate & Estate Administration, Long-Term Care, Medicaid Planning, Veterans Benefits, Charitable Planning, Special Needs Planning, Estate Tax Planning, Business Succession and Asset Protection, in the cities of Miami, Coral Gables, and Kendal, Florida, and the surrounding areas.
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