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Five Little-Known Facts About Veterans’ Benefits

There are benefit programs (“Aid and Attendance”) through the Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA) that can help wartime veterans and their spouses pay for care, including assisted living, memory care and nursing homes. Here are some little-known facts about these benefits:

1. The veteran does not need to have been involved in actual combat, only to have served during a period considered wartime. Wartime dates can be viewed here:  Periods of War for VA Benefits Eligibility

2. The approval process for VA benefits usually takes five to six months, but it pays retroactively. That means if an application takes six months to be approved, the first award includes a lump-sum payment for the six months that the application was pending.

3. Applicants 70 and over can request that the review process be expedited.

4. Those who intend to apply but don’t have all necessary documents ready can submit a one-page form (VA Form 21-4138) to get the process started. Retroactive benefits will then be based on the date that this “intent to apply” form was received, rather than the date the final documents are submitted.

5. There are maximum allowable incomes for VA benefit applicants, but medical and personal care expenses can be deducted from applicants overall income to calculate “countable income.” Even applicants with above-average incomes may be eligible when medical and care expenses become high.

The maximum benefit payable to the veteran or veteran’s spouse is about $1950 per month.  The benefit is paid directly to the veteran or spouse, and not to the nursing home or care provider.

Veteran’s Aid and Attendance is different that Medi-Cal (Medicaid in other states) in that it does not require that you impoverish yourself before qualifying.  As soon as your out-of–pocket medical bills (including nursing home or in-come care) exceed your gross income, you are qualified.

If you have questions about Veterans Benefits, planning for long-term care, or general estate planning, please call us at (916) 729-1307, or email [email protected]

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