Qualifying Military Service
- World War II: 12-7-1941 through 12-31-1946.
- Korean Conflict: 1-27-1950 through 1-31-1955.
- Vietnam Era: 8-5-1964 through 5-7-1975 or 2-28-1961, for those who served in Vietnam.
- Gulf Conflict Era: 8-2-1990 to present. (Gulf Conflict Era veterans must have 2 years of active duty. The two years doesn't have to be consecutive.)
Who can help a Veteran with a claim?
A common myth about VA Pension Benefits is that anyone can help a veteran with a claim. I often learn about unauthorized people, who make unsuitable recommendations while helping veterans with the claims process. These individuals are often breaking the law. Read more.
Fact: The law says that anyone can help veteran with one claim. Helping someone one time" can be misunderstood. Title 38 CFR § 14.630 (a) states that any person may be authorized to prepare, present, and prosecute one claim. This allows a family member or friend to help a veteran with a claim.
This is clarified under Title 38 U.S.C. § 5901: “Except as provided by section 500 of title 5, no individual may act as an agent or attorney in the preparation, presentation, or prosecution of any claim under laws administered by the Secretary unless such individual has been recognized for such purposes by the Secretary.” These are the people recognized by the Secretary.
VA Accredited Attorneys
VA Accredited Claims Agents**
Veteran Service Officers
The VA added to the explanation in their Fast Letter 06-26: “Representation before VA consists of actions associated with the preparation, presentation, or prosecution of claim for a VA claimant … Among other things, representation includes counseling on veterans benefits, gathering information necessary to file a claim for benefits, preparing claim forms …”
This is violated by many well-meaning advisors, particularly those who are counseling on VA benefits and gathering information. Advisors cross the line as soon as they go from providing general education on VA benefits to answering specific questions, such as whether or not a veteran will qualify based on their current medical needs, wartime military service or if they have too many assets. This is a direct violation of the intent and spirit of the law.
So, as a health care professional, home health provider, assisted living community director or senior placement agent, when you make a referral, be sure that the person that you suggest is recognized by the VA as a VA Accredited Attorney, Accredited Claims Agent or Veteran Service Officer.
3 M’s Squared of Veterans Pension Qualification
Too many veterans are being told they do not qualify for VA Aid and Attendance. If this has happened to you, you may be eligible for benefits to help pay for needed extended care if you meet “The 3 Ms of VA Pension Qualification.”
M1: Military Service
A veteran must have had 90 days of active duty, with one day during a period of war, and an honorable discharge to be eligible (or for his or her surviving spouse to be eligible) for benefits. The periods of war include World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War. Gulf War veterans must have two years of active duty to qualify.
M2: Medical Need
A claimant must need hands-on assistance with at least two of the following activities of daily living: bathing, dressing, ambulating, toileting, transferring, and eating. An example of this would be someone who may simply need daily assistance with eating and bathing.
What are the income and asset limits? In order to qualify for the full benefit, your income must be less than your cost of care. Here is an example: If you are a veteran with an income of $3,000 per month but your cost of care in an assisted living community is $4,500 per month you, would have a monthly shortfall of $1,500. You would qualify for the full 2018 monthly benefit of $2,170 (if you are married), $1,830 (if you are single), and your surviving spouse would qualify for $1,176.
The amount of assets is a more subjective process. We have had claims approved with well over $80,000 in total assets and others denied for less than $30,000 in total assets. How do you know what the correct amount is? The best advice is to consult with an accredited agent or attorney who understands the rules. A competent advisor can help you qualify even if you have a high net worth.
What is the 2018 Aid and Attendance Pension?
A veteran can receive over $26,000 annually tax free to help pay for the high cost of long-term care. Eligible veterans must be over 65 and rely on the assistance of another individual for activities of daily living.
The VA Aid and Attendance benefit is a program for veterans who served in the military during World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, or the First Gulf War (starting in 1990). The benefit extends to the Veteran’s spouse and to the surviving spouse of a veteran who served during wartime. (The spouse did not have to be married to the veteran at the time of service.) Common law marriages are also recognized for eligibility.
The pension is paid tax free to help pay for home health care, an assisted living facility, or nursing home costs. The veteran can also pay a family member to provide home health care.
If you or your spouse served our country during a period of war, let us research your eligibility for this benefit. If you require assistance at home, currently live in a senior retirement community or assisted living facility, or if nursing home care is in your future, you may be able to improve your standard of living or move into a facility where you can get the care you need and deserve.
Why 3 Ms Squared?
One of the biggest mistakes that advisors make is not “squaring” their VA benefit planning strategies with ALTCS/Medicaid rules. Someone who might qualify now for Veterans Pension benefits is likely to need additional care at some point in the future. The improper use of financial products that are used to qualify for Veterans Pension could cause a financial disaster if ALTCS/Medicaid is ever needed. This is because assets that are legally repositioned into inappropriate products to qualify for VA Pension, cause penalties for Medicaid/ALTCS eligibility. So it is extremely important to work with an expert in extended care planning who understands all the implications of possibly needing Medicaid/ALTCS in the future and who knows how to square the planning with other government benefit programs.
Think of this, if you’re having a custom home built and the walls are not square, how stable and sound will that home be? Will it stand up to storms and other natural disasters? Of course not. This same applies to your extended care benefits planning.