What Is the Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit?

”Aid and attendance” is a commonly used term for a little-known veterans’ disability income. The official title of this benefit is “Pension.” The reason for using “aid and attendance” to refer to Pension is that many veterans or their single surviving spouses can become eligible if they have a regular need for the aid and attendance of a caregiver or if they are housebound. Evidence of this need for care must be certified by VA as a “rating.” With a rating, certain veterans or their surviving spouses can now qualify for Pension.

The purpose of this benefit is to provide supplemental income to disabled or older veterans who have a low income or high medical costs. Pension is for war veterans who have disabilities that are not connected to their active-duty service. Pension is primarily intended for very low income veterans, but a special provision in how Pension is calculated can allow veterans or single surviving spouses with high income to also receive the benefit which may be as much as $1, 949 a month. This special provision kicks in for veterans who have ongoing and expensive long term care costs.

Aid and Attendance Pension benefit can pay up to $1,949 a month for qualifying long term care needs such as:

  • Family members who provide home care
  • Professional home care providers to come into your home
  • Assisted Living or Adult Day services
  • Nursing Home long term care
  • Home renovations for disability
  • Prescription drug costs
  • Insurance premiums
  • Diabetic or incontinence supplies
  • Other un-reimbursed medical expenses

If the veteran’s income exceeds the Pension amount, there is usually no award given, however, income can be adjusted for unreimbursed medical expenses, and this allows veterans with household incomes larger than the Pension amount to qualify for a monthly benefit. There is also an asset test to qualify for Pension.

If you have assets and a sizable income, you will most likely need and benefit from the services of a Veterans Benefits Consultant concerning what you need to do before you submit to the VA for an award. It is extremely important that assets that might be gifted or converted to income also meet Medicaid gifting rules in case the veteran or the surviving spouse may have to apply for Medicaid. The consultant can help avoid Medicaid penalties associated with reallocating assets.

Angela N. Manz is a veteran’s benefits consultant who understands the aid and attendance benefit as well as Medicaid rules. Angela N. Manz can be reached at 757-271-6275 or by going to www.manzlawfirm.com

Average Cost of a Nursing Home Inches Closer to $80,000 a Year

Although the US economy has seen price rollbacks during the last year, long-term care providers have actually been raising rates, according to the 2009 MetLife Market Survey of Nursing Home, Assisted Living, Adult Day Services, and Home Care Costs. Private room nursing home rates rose 3.3 percent to an average of $79,935 a year or $219 a day, while assisted living also climbed 3.3 percent on average to $37,572 a year or $3,131 a month.

Home health care aides now cost an average of $21 per hour, which represents a 5 percent jump, and adult day care services now average $67 per day, a 4.7 percent increase over 2008.

The MetLife survey also reports on the cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home, which increased 4 percent to $198 a day, or $72,270 a year. The cost of a semi-private room in an Alzheimer’s or Memory-Care wing averages $75,920 annually.

Once again, the highest rates for a private nursing home room in 2009 were found in Alaska, where the cost is $584 a day on average. The lowest rates were found in Louisiana (with the exception of Baton Rouge and the Shreveport area), at $132 a day.

The cost of assisted living was the highest in Wilmington, Delaware, at $5,219 a month and the lowest in North Dakota at $2,014 a month. Home health care aide services ranged from a high of $30 an hour in Rochester, Minnesota, to $13 and hour in the Shreveport area. Adult day care services were highest in Vermont at an average $150 a day and lowest in the Montgomery, Alabama, area, at $27 a day.

For the full MetLife 2009 survey report, including the average long-term care costs for selected cities, please follow this link:


Revoking a Power of Attorney

If for any reason, you become unhappy with the person you have appointed to make decisions for you under a durable power of attorney, you may revoke the power of attorney at any time. There are a few steps you should take to ensure the document is properly revoked.

If you execute a new power of attorney, it should state that old powers of attorney are revoked. However, you may also put the revocation in writing. The revocation should include your name, a statement that you are of sound mind, and your wish to revoke the power of attorney. You should also specify the date the original power of attorney was executed and the person selected as your agent. It should be signed by you according to the same requirements needed to execute a power of attorney in your state. Send this revocation to the agent under your old power of attorney, as well as your new agent, and any banks or financial institutions that you are working with. Attach your new power of attorney to the revocation.

You will need to get the old power of attorney back from your agent. If you can’t get it back, send the agent a certified letter, stating that the power of attorney has been revoked to put them on notice that they are no longer allowed to act on your behalf.

Finally, because a durable power of attorney is the most important estate planning instrument available, if you revoke a power of attorney, it is important to have a new one put into place immediately. An elder law attorney can assist you in revoking an old power of attorney and drafting a new one.

For more information on powers of attorney, click here www.manzlawfirm.com

Estate Planning

Why Plan Your Estate?
The process of estate planning means that you have a plan prepared for the management of your affairs during your life and for the disposition of your property upon your death or disability.  No one likes to dwell on the prospect of his or her own death or disability. The failure to plan may cause you or your family to incur unnecessary expenses, taxes, delays, and stress when you die or be become disabled. You run the risk that your loved ones may not receive what you would want them to receive after your death due to conflicts and disagreements, taxes, or administrative costs after death. Failure to plan may also cause you to run out of money during your lifetime if you are to need long-term care. This means that there may be no inheritance left for your spouse or children. This can all be avoided by proper estate planning.    A complete estate plan should consider the needs of your spouse, children, and other beneficiaries.
A comprehensive estate plan will address the following questions:
Whom do I want to make financial or health care decisions for me if I am incapacitated?
Whom do I want to manage my estate after my death?
Where do I want my property to go after my death?
What if my I want to leave property to a beneficiary who is disabled, has a substance abuse problem, or may become divorced?
What happens if my spouse or I become disabled?
How can I minimize or avoid probate taxes and fees after my death?
How can I leave an inheritance for my children?
All estate plans should include the two important estate planning instruments: a durable power of attorney and an advance medical directive.  The first is for managing your property during your life, in case you are ever unable to do so yourself.  The second is for the management of your health care decisions in case you are unable to do so yourself.  Also, an estate plan should include a will and possibly a revocable trust.  Many Americans are using revocable (or “living”) trusts to avoid probate and to manage their estates both during their lives and after they’re gone, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best option for your family.
A complete estate plan will address your needs, as well as the needs of your spouse, children and other family members or business partners.  A good estate planning attorney will discuss your specific family situation with you to determine the best estate plan for your family, whether you need a will and/or a trust and to ensure that you are take care of in the event of a disability.
Don’t delay in getting a proper estate plan put into place. Not having the proper estate plan could have disastrous results for your family. Prior planning makes all the difference.

Veteran's Benefits – Aid and Attendance

Many seniors are unaware that they may be eligible for the VA aid and attendance benefit.  This benefit is available to veterans over the age of 65, who served at least 90 days of active duty, with one day during a period of wartime.   They must have received a better than dishonorable discharge.  If a veteran, or his spouse, has recurring out of pocket medical expenses or needs assistance with daily living tasks (such as meal preparation, dressing, bathing, shopping, taking medications, etc.) he or she should consult an elder law attorney to determine whether they might qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit.
This benefit pays the veteran or spouse a monthly tax-free  pension amount.  A veteran is eligible for up to $1949 per month and a widowed spouse is eligible for up to $1056 per month in tax-free income.
In order to qualify, the veteran or widowed spouse must have recurring medical expenses or require personal assistance.  Medical expenses can include in-home care (including a child who is taking care of a parent either part-time or full-time), assisted living community costs, nursing home costs, prescription drugs, medical equipment, adult day care, insurance premiums, etc.
There are asset and income qualifications as well.  An experienced elder law attorney can assist the veteran or his widowed spouse in creating a plan for veteran’s benefits and determining the best method for preparing the application.  The elder law attorney will also discuss with the family how any application for VA benefits might affect future eligibility for Medicaid or other government benefits. It is imperative that steps be taken to adequately preserve the senior’s assets and to preserve eligibility for any other benefits the senior may require in the future.
Finally, the process of applying to the VA for this benefit can be very lengthy and difficult.  It is best to work with someone knowledgeable who can assist you in preparing your claim so that it is approved as quickly as possible.
The VA also requires that anyone giving advice to veterans about this benefit be accredited through the VA.  Before choosing a professional to assist you, make sure to ask if they are accredited and if they will help your family prepare a Medicaid or other long-term care plan at the time they are preparing the plan for VA benefits.
Angela N. Manz is an elder law attorney licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  She is accredited through Department of Veterans Affairs to assist veterans and their families in the preparation of claims for veterans benefits.
This blog post is not intended to provide legal counsel or to be a substitute for legal counsel. We assume no responsibility for any errors, omissions or any damage resulting from the use of this information.