People that served in the United States armed forces make great sacrifices for the benefit of their country, and their family members do the same. Wartime veterans in particular deserve all the gratitude that we can bestow.
Many veterans are eligible for a VA benefit that helps pay for long-term care when they are senior citizens.
Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension
We have all heard of the “retired pay” that veterans earn after spending at least 20 years in the military.
There is another benefit that is simply called the Veterans Pension that is available to wartime veterans that are 65 years of age and older. It is designed to assist veterans that can prove that they need help with their activities of daily living.
The length of service requirement for this pension is far less compared to the retired pay threshold. If you joined the military before September 7 of 1980, you may qualify if you served for at least 90 days with a minimum of one of these days beginning or ending during wartime. The length of service requirement is generally 24 months for those that joined later, with one exception. If your entire tour of duty did not last 24 months, you can still qualify if you served during wartime.
This pension is a need-based benefit, so you cannot qualify if your net worth exceeds a certain amount. Congress established the limit in 2018. Before the measure was passed, benefit decisions were made on a case-by-case basis.
In 2021, the net worth limit is $130,773. This includes your countable assets and annual income. For example, if you receive income of $15,000 and the value of your property is $116,000, your net worth is $131,000 which exceeds the limit.
The term “countable” is significant because your home and one vehicle are not considered countable assets.
Another change included in the Military Pension reform bill prevents reactive divestitures. In the past, you could often qualify for the pension by giving your assets away. Today, there is a three-year look back period. You cannot qualify for the pension if you give significant gifts within three years of the submission of your application. If you violate this rule, your eligibility is delayed by one month for every $2295 that you gave away.
2021 Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension Rates
If you qualify for this benefit as a single veteran, your maximum benefit is $23,238 in 2021. A married veteran, or someone that has a dependent or multiple dependents, may a top benefit of $27,549.
When two married veterans both qualify for the Aid and Attendance Pension, they may receive $36,861 a year. These figures change on an annual basis to account for inflation.
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