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Estate Planning: Your Family, Your Wealth, Your Legacy.

Veterans Benefits

Veterans Benefits:  What Uncle Sam Forgot to Tell You

You may be missing out on up to $25,440 per year in tax-free income from the Veterans Administration to offset expenses or cover costs that impact your lifestyle and your health on a daily basis.  Contact our office at 817.462.5454 to see if you qualify.

 

Uncle Sam can be a great employer providing free healthcare for active duty members and their families as well as providing an overall excellent quality of life.  When you are on active duty, it is relatively easy to get information.  However, during your final out-processing, there is one thing Uncle Sam forgot to tell you about:  The VA Improved Pension, commonly referred to as Aid and Attendance.

 

The VA Pension Mystery

The mystery and lack of knowledge that surrounds this benefit has several causes.  First, there are different parts of the Veterans Administration and they do not always talk to each other.  Second, a lot of the employees of the Veterans Administration simply are not aware of this benefit so that they can tell you about it.  But, the other reasons, which probably have the most to do with the mystery and lack of knowledge surrounding and about this benefit have to do with the fact that Congress has erected a wall around VA benefits.  The only folks who are legally authorized to provide information to veterans about benefits are:

 

  1. Federal Veterans Administration employees and employees of state Departments of Veteran’s Affairs;
  2. Authorized representatives of Veterans Service Organizations like the VFW and American Legion, among others; and
  3. Attorneys licensed to practice law in the veteran’s state and accredited by the VA.  Antoinette Bone is a VA certified lawyer.

 

Why it is important to work with a VA Accredited Attorney

  1. Knowledgeable about VA, elder law, estate planning and Medicaid issues
  2. Address long term care planning options and legal consequences
  3. Address the tax consequences of options
  4. Ethically obligated to offer the appropriate plan for a situation
  5. Assist with the application

 

Navigating the VA can be like getting lost in a maze with no guideposts.  Let the Dallas-Fort Worth Law Firm of Antoinette Bone help guide you through the maze and get what you are entitled to.

 

The Veteran’s Administration says it is one of the most underutilized programs it offers.  One reason for that is that not everyone that works for the military or even the VA knows about the program.

Many veterans will require long-term care.  Medicaid will pay for nursing homes but it does not pay for assisted living.  If you have not taken measures to plan for long-term care, you could find yourself in the situation of quickly depleting all the money you have saved up.  The Dallas-Fort Worth Law Office of Antoinette Bone is here to help you and your family determine if this asset protection strategy can work for you.

Here are the basics:  There are two different types of available monies for veterans.  The one most veterans know about is the veterans compensation (service-connected disability).

Veterans Compensation:  Compensation is the benefit paid to veterans who have disabilities incurred or aggravated during active duty.  The disability does not need to be related to combat or a job held during active duty (you could have injured your hand changing a tire while on leave).  Rather, it had to have occurred during your service and in the line of duty.  It does not matter how much you earn or how much you are worth.  It is awarded based solely on a disability determination.

Compensation is similar to workers compensation in the private sector. But unlike disability determinations for social security benefits, where total disability is required before any award is given, disability ratings for VA benefits are made in increments of 10 percent.  The monthly award is directly related to the percentage of disability – the higher the disability, the higher the monthly award.

The key to making it easy to get this benefit is that you have to show in your medical records the injury happened and it is best to do it just before leaving active duty.

The second benefit available to veterans is the VA Improved Pension.  This is commonly referred to as Aid and Attendance.

Veterans Pension: Veterans who served during specified periods of war and who are permanently and totally disabled from a cause NOT solely related to their military service may be eligible for pension benefits.  This pension benefit is awarded based both on disability and income, as well as the net worth of the veteran.  So, it does matter how much money you have and how much money you bring home monthly.  In many cases, pension pays less for a total disability than the compensation program pays.  However, there are additional allowances to pension, known as Housebound and Aid and Attendance, that can increase the monthly pension amount paid.

The character of your discharge matters when it comes to receiving these benefits.  Individuals with dishonorable discharges generally cannot get benefits.

2017 Service Pension Rates
(veteran alive)

 

Type of Benefit Maximum Annual Pension Rate (Income Limit) Monthly Maximum Annual Pension Rate (Income Limit)

 

Service Pension

$12,907

$1,075

       One dependent

$16,902

$1,408

Housebound

$15,773

$1,314

       One dependent

$19,770

$1,647

Aid and Attendance

$21,531

$1,794

       One dependent

$25,525

$2,127

Each additional dependent child 

$2,205

 

+$183

 

Survivor’s Rights to Compensation or Pension: Surviving spouses or dependent children of military personnel who die on active duty and surviving spouses or dependent children of veterans who die as a result of a service-connected disability are eligible for dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC).  Low-income surviving family members may also be eligible for what is referred to as Death Pension (or Improved Death Pension), as well as the additional allowances for Housebound and Aid and Attendance.

2017 Pension Benefit—Surviving Spouse

 

Type of Benefit Maximum Annual Pension Rate (Income Limit) Monthly Maximum Annual Pension Rate (Income Limit)

 

Death Pension

$8,656

$721

     One dependent child

$11,330

$944

Housebound

$10,580

$881

     One dependent child

$13,249

$1,104

Aid and Attendance

$13,836

$1,153

     One dependent child

$16,506

$1,375

Each additional child

$2,205

+$183

 

Aid and Attendance

If you or you loved one needs assistance with activities of daily living (eating, bathing, dressing) you probably can qualify for this level of the pension benefit.  This benefit can be paid to the veteran, a spouse, or an assisted living facility.  Veterans may use this money in any manner they see fit, including care for a spouse.

You are probably wondering exactly what this type of planning looks like.  Let’s walk through an example with Charlie and Rose.

Facts:

  • Charlie, 78, Korean War Vet, married to Mary, 75
  • Charlie had a stroke and needs fulltime care.
  • Mary is his primary caregiver with some help from their children on weekends.
  • Income:  $3,500.00/month.
  • Assets:    Home and $85,000 in savings.
  • Has in home assistance 4 hrs/day 5 days week costing $1,700 per month.
  • Mary’s health declining from stress.

Result with Planning:

  • Estate Planning, which included meeting asset test and personal care agreement.
  • Contracted with niece for live-in assistance at $3,500/mo.
  • Income: reduced to amount necessary to qualify for the benefit using planning strategies
  • Assets:    keep their Home, $20,000 in savings.
  • Qualified for A&A at $2,054.00
  • Net Benefit:  Full time assistance plus over $2000 available for living expenses (as compared to $1750)

This increased income will be available to Charlie and Rose for years.  Don’t delay, you or your loved one could be missing out on thousands of dollars.  Contact Antoinette Bone, VA Accredited estate planning lawyer at 817.462.5454.

Other Benefits Available to Veterans through the VA

  • Employment & Training
  • Survivor Benefits
  • Health Care
  • Life Insurance
  • Burial and Memorial
  • Death Pension
  • Parent’s Dependency and Indemnity Compensation

As a former Air Force veteran (JAG) and spouse to a retired disabled veteran, I understand what it means to have served.  Let’s work together to get you the benefits you are entitled to.

Call The Law Office of Antoinette Bone, PLLC estate planning and wealth preservation firm located in Bedford, Texas to see if you or your family member qualify for aid and attendance, 817.462.5454 or email us at info@abonelaw.com

Download the VA-CLAIM-QUESTIONNAIRE.