Elder law attorneys counsel clients that are concerned about some of the challenges that elders face, and long-term care costs are at the top of the list. Just over half of seniors will need paid living assistance eventually, and it is quite expensive. While Medicare will provide a solid health insurance underpinning, it does not cover the custodial care that nursing homes and in-home health aides provide. This exposes many people, including veterans, to very expensive long-term health care. In many cases, there is a veterans benefit that can lighten the load for some people.
In addition to the retirement pension that veterans are eligible for after 20 years of service, there is another benefit that is simply called the Veterans Pension. It is potentially available to former members of the armed forces that are 65 years of age and older. Someone that is younger and who is totally and permanently disabled could also qualify for this benefit. It may also be available to individuals with disabilities who are in nursing homes.
People that have been dishonorably discharged from the military are not eligible for the Veterans Pension under any circumstances. There is also a length of service requirement, but it is not very stringent. For veterans who started active duty before September 8, 1980, the requirement is at least 90 days of service with a minimum of one day beginning or ending when the country was at war. For those that began their tour of duty at a later date, there is the one day of wartime service requirement out of a total of at least 24 months on active duty. These are the parameters for enlisted people. Officers that started active duty after October 16, 1981, can be eligible if they were not on active duty for the previous 24 months.
This Veterans Pension is not intended for veterans who do not need any financial assistance based on their overall profile. There is an asset limit, and in 2021, it stands at $130,773. This figure and others that we will share are indexed annually for inflation. Your annual income is added to your tangible countable property when your net worth is being calculated. That’s the bad news. The good news is that your home and one motor vehicle are not considered to be countable assets. Appliances and anything else that would remain in your home if you moved are not counted, but furniture and other movable items would be counted.
Three-Year Look Back Period
A three-year look back period was put in place on October 18, 2018. Your eligibility would be delayed if administrators find that you have transferred assets out of your name during the three years preceding your application submission date.
2021 Veterans Pension Benefit Rates
There is a standard Veterans Pension for veterans that do not need help with their activities of daily living, and there are two other designations. One of them is the Housebound pension, and there is an Aid and Attendance version for people that require living assistance. A single veteran that is eligible for the standard variety can receive a maximum annual pension of $13,931. For a veteran with one dependent, the figure is $18,243. The maximum Housebound benefit for a single veteran is $17,024 a year, and the benefit rises to $21,337 for eligible former service members that have a dependent. For the Aid and Attendance pension, the top standard benefit is $23,238 annually, and it goes up to $27,549 for those that have a spouse or another independent.
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This benefit can be part of the solution for veterans, and there are nursing home asset protection strategies that can be implemented if you did not serve in the military. If you are ready to discuss them with an Oklahoma City elder law attorney, you can schedule a consultation if you call us at 405-843-6100. There is also a contact form on this site you can use if you would prefer to send us a message.