Wendy Rickenbach-Barclay, Owner-Certified Senior Advisor
It can be frustrating to try to understand all the benefits that our area veterans can receive. Frustration can sometimes lead to the veteran or their family giving up during the process of application. Do not give up! This benefit can truly provide a quality of life to our area senior veterans and their spouses. Every day we meet with families who do not think that their loved ones have the income for independent living with assistance as needed, assisted living or memory care.
We are hopeful that this article will provide some light on the VA Benefit – Aid and Attendance – Tax Free Benefit.
The Aid and Attendance benefit is a monetary benefit which helps eligible veterans and their surviving spouses (or just the spouse in case of the veteran’s death) to pay for the assistance they need in everyday functioning ADL’s- Activities of Daily Living (eating, bathing, dressing and medication management).
Let’s start with the NON-FINANCIAL REQUIREMENTS to receive Aid and Attendance Benefit:
• Age – Veterans or their surviving spouses must be at least 65 or officially disabled if younger.
• Time of Military Service – Veterans must be considered “wartime veterans” meaning they served at least 90 days and served at least 1 day during the wartime dates below, but not necessarily in combat.
World War II: Dec 7, 1941 – Dec 31, 1946
Korean War: Jun 27, 1950 – Jan 31, 1955
Vietnam War: Aug 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975 (or Feb 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975 for Veterans who served in Vietnam)
Gulf War: Aug 2, 1990 – Undetermined
• Discharge Status – Veterans cannot have been dishonorably discharged.
• Disability- Veterans are eligible without a disability, but a higher benefit is available to those who are disabled.
• Aid & Attendance Eligibility – a veteran must require help with the activities of daily living at home, in nursing homes or assisted living. The need for that help does not have to be related to their military service.
• Housebound Eligibility – the veteran needs to have the disability rating of 100% that prevents them from leaving their home. The disability does not have to be related to their military service.
• Basic Pension / Improved Income Eligibility – no disability requirement.
• Marriage Rules: a surviving spouse must have been living with the veteran at the time of their death and must be single at time of claim.
• You will need a letter from your primary care provider solidifying and assessing your needs.
As for the FINANCIAL REQUIREMENTS to receive Aid and Attendance Benefit:
To qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit and other pensions, the VA will look at the applicant’s overall assets and net worth in addition to their income. The primary home, household, items, personal effects, and vehicles can be excluded when determining net worth. The VA pension eligibility is based on a verifiable estimate of the applicant’s future income and care needs.
This differs from Medicaid’s asset test, which “looks back” at an applicant’s past asset transfers for up to 5 years preceding their application. At present, the VA does not have a look-back period, please note legislation proposing a 3-year look-back period has been introduced.
A veteran’s net worth, according to the VA, includes assets in bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and property other than the veteran’s primary residence and vehicle.
The VA is looking at whether your income and assets are substantial enough that the veteran or spouse could live off of them for a considerable amount of time. The VA takes in to account the veteran’s age, care expenses and life expectancy. Veterans with high net worth have been approved and veterans with low net worth have been denied.
There are several forms that need to be completed; copies of discharge papers, marriage license, birth certificate and Federal or State issued photo I.D.’s are required.
If you need assistance in finding solutions or options in paying for senior care, we are here to assist all area seniors. There are many parts to the puzzle of senior care that we can put together for you. Our entire Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch Team educates seniors and families on the various care options, average cost of care and ways to pay for care at NO COST! Please feel free to reach out to us at 941-237-0846 to get started.
Thank you for your service,
Your CarePatrol Team
Sarasota County Veterans Services
2230 Ringling Blvd
Sarasota Florida 34237
Phone – 941-861-2899
Sarasota County Veterans Services – Venice Office
4000 S. Tamiami Trail #139
Venice Florida 34293
Phone – 941-861-3047
Veterans Services – Charlotte County
1050 Loveland Blvd
Port Charlotte, FL 33980
Phone – 941-861-3047
U.S. Veterans Affairs Office
4801 Swift Rd #A
Sarasota, Florida 34231
Phone –941- 927-8285
Veterans Services – Englewood office
6868 San Casa Drive Unit 12
Englewood, FL 34224
Phone – 941-681-3716