A little known Veterans Benefits is the Aid and Attendance Benefit. This is an additional benefit for certain veterans and their surviving spouses. It can pay as much as $2300 per month for the veteran and as much as $1200 per month to the surviving spouse if certain service and financial qualifications are met prior to the application for the benefits. The VA prohibits anyone from charging a fee to assist with the application process, yet many attorneys “market” this benefit. They don’t charge for the VA application, but do charge for the legal and estate planning that is often required to arrange the assets and income in order to meet the financial qualifications.
The service qualification is fairly simple: In the US military for at least 90 days during an officially declared act of war, and honorably discharged from service.
The Financial qualifications is where it can get complicated and the services of financial planner, attorney and possibly a CPA will be needed, especially if the financial situation of the Veteran is substantial. Use of Trusts, gifting, and ownership changes are commonly used and the will and other basic estate planning documents often need to be updated.
This is certainly one way to help pay for the high cost of extended care and should be considered before the care is actually needed. This process can take months, and sometimes years to implement. We have known cases that took several years for the VA to approve the application. Having a specialist who knows the system and the processes is essential to take advantage of this.
If the Veteran has other financial assets, Social Security and perhaps a pension from employment, he and his family often can be use this as a method to provide adequate care for the Veteran and protect the hard earned savings and investments for the family.
This is not intended to provide legal or tax advice and is the opinion of the author.