Aid & Attendance Benefit for Mississippi Veterans
The Aid & Attendance benefit is available to many Mississippi Veterans and their surviving spouses to help pay for the costs of long-term care. The following is an overview of the Aid & Attendance benefit and qualification requirements.
Aid & Attendance Benefit
The maximum monthly Aid & Attendance benefit for 2014 is as follows:
|Married Veteran||$2,266 / $27,195|
|Single Veteran||$1,911 / $22,939|
|Surviving Spouse||$1,228 / $14,742|
|Two Married Veterans||$3,032 / $36,387|
The monthly benefit is tax-free and can be received in addition to monthly pension and Social Security benefits.
In order to be eligible for the Aid & Attendance benefit, an applicant must meet the applicable (1) service requirements, (2) medical requirements, and (3) financial requirements.
(1) Service Requirements
In order to meet the service requirements for eligibility, a veteran must have:
- Served 90 consecutive days on active military duty;
- Served at least one day of active duty during a period of war (no combat requirement); and
- Received better than a dishonorable discharge.
If a surviving spouse is applying, the surviving spouse must not have divorced the veteran or remarried after the veteran’s death.
(2) Medical Requirements
In order to meet the medical requirements for eligibility, an applicant must require “care or assistance on a regular basis” which protects him or her from the potential danger of a daily living environment. The medical requirement can be satisfied if at least one of the following conditions has been met by showing that an applicant:
- Resides in a nursing home or hospice facility due to mental or physical incapacity;
- Resides in an assisted living facility;
- Is bedridden, and their disability requires them to remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment;
- Requires aid in order to perform everyday living tasks such as bathing, feeding, dressing, using the restroom, adjusting prosthetic devices or protecting themselves from the hazards of their daily environment; or
- Is blind or nearly blind.
Veterans who do not qualify for the Aid & Attendance benefit may still qualify for the Housebound benefit when they have a single permanent disability evaluated as 100 percent disabling and, due to such disability, are permanently and substantially confined to their immediate premises; or they have a single permanent disability evaluated as 60 percent or more disabling.
(3) Financial Requirements
To determine whether the financial requirements for eligibility have been satisfied, the VA will evaluate an applicant’s total net worth, life expectancy, income and medical expenses. Because the VA caseworker has some degree of discretion in determining financial eligibility and the VA has not released all of its specific criteria to the public, this requirement is the least predictable. The VA has not released a specific net worth amount for purposes of determining eligibility. However, the general rule of thumb is that if a married applicant has less than $80,000 ($40,000 if an applicant is single) in net worth (not including their home, automobiles and personal property), qualifying is likely but not guaranteed. On the other hand, income for VA Purposes (called “IVAP”) must be less than the monthly benefit for which an applicant is applying. IVAP is calculated by subtracting “countable medical expenses” (recurring out-of-pocket medical expenses that can be expected to continue throughout an applicant’s lifetime) from an applicant’s gross income from all sources.
It may be possible to reduce an applicant’s net worth and income to levels that will be acceptable to the VA by using various planning techniques that may include the use of annuities, promissory notes, gifts and trusts. However, each planning technique has different advantages and disadvantages and should be carefully considered in order to avoid jeopardizing Medicaid benefits, creating unfavorable tax consequences or causing undesirable estate planning problems, among other considerations. An experienced VA attorney can help make sense of the financial requirements as well as provide an estimated projection of how much net worth and income an applicant can have and how much Aid & Attendance benefit an applicant may receive with due consideration given to the advantages and disadvantages of various planning techniques.