Aid and Attendance Benefit for Veterans

Aid and Attendance Benefit: The Department of Veterans Affairs recently published new rules that will dramatically alter VA benefit planning for seniors who were war time veterans. The new rules take effect on October 18, 2018.

War time veterans and their surviving spouses who are over the age of 65 may be eligible for certain important monthly VA benefits that provide assistance with at home care or assisted living facility care. The benefit is known as the “Aid and Attendance Benefit.”

Traditionally, the veteran could transfer assets in order to qualify for the program without being penalized for the asset transfer. Effective October 18, 2018, there will be a look-back period of 36 months when applying for needs-based pension benefits for wartime veterans or for the surviving spouses and dependent children of wartime veterans. Any asset that was transferred for less than fair market value during the 36-month period immediately preceding the pension application will result in a penalty period, not to exceed five years. The rules have been written to track the asset penalty rules under the Medicaid program for long term care.

The rules have also been changed to implement an asset qualification rule. This amount is currently set at $123,600, which is also the maximum community spouse resource allowance amount allowed by Medicaid. This amount will increase annually and will be tied to the Social Security benefit increase.

These two major changes have broken from the historical rules of no look-back period and no set asset limit. The complete set of new rules, including the above, will go into effect on October 18th. So, any assets transferred before this date will not be subject to the 36-month look-back period, nor will the asset limit be applicable to those transfers.

To qualify for these important VA benefits, you must require the assistance of another individual to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting yourself from the hazards of your daily environment. If you require assistance with two of the above activities of daily living, you may qualify for benefits.

Under current law, VA recognizes the following wartime periods to determine eligibility for VA pension benefits: Mexican Border Period (May 9, 1916 – April 5, 1917 for veterans who served in Mexico, on its borders, or adjacent waters), World War I (April 6, 1917 – Nov. 11, 1918), World War II (Dec. 7, 1941 – Dec. 31, 1946), Korean conflict (June 27, 1950 – Jan. 31, 1955), Vietnam era (Feb. 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975 for veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period; otherwise Aug. 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975) and Gulf War (Aug. 2, 1990 – through a future date to be set by law or presidential proclamation).

The Knee Law Firm, LLC encourages war time veterans and the families of war time veterans to study the new rules and seek appropriate legal advice.