Health Care help and beyond
(CREDIT: please see below)
Benefits bonanza – Aid & Attendance
Perhaps the single most overlooked benefit is Aid & Attendance, which is an Improved Pension Benefit for Vets and their surviving spouses who need assistance with basic self-care.
A doctor has to qualify a candidate and a person must be legally blind or need assistance with one or more of the following:
- Personal care
The tax-free money, ranging from $1,094 to $2,020, can be used for care at home, in an assisted living facility, or at a nursing home.
There are stringent qualification guidelines and in addition, those who qualify typically must have limited – the VA says $80,000 or less per couple—assets. But there are exceptions.
And since the VA, unlike Medicaid, doesn’t currently have a look-back period, you can do some advance planning to qualify for the benefit without incurring a penalty. But do your planning early, you never know when the VA will revise their rules .
6 things to know
1. Snowbird benefits. If you have dual residences, you need to register at hospitals in both places’ especially if you spend months living in different parts of the country
2. Know your benefits. Don’t overestimate benefits. It’s important to know what the VA does and doesn’t provide when you’re doing your long-term planning. Do plenty of research.
3. Be patient. Be prepared to wait for appointments and when you’re picking up medicine since the VA isn’t known for speed.
4. Pre-screen facilities. If you’re looking for nursing care and you or your relative qualifies for a VA facility, visit the facilities in your area and take a close look at them. Not all are created equal.
5. Agent Orange exposure: Anyone that served in Vietnam could be affected by Agent Orange. Ailments can include early heart attacks, prostate cancer, and Parkinson’s disease. For more information on Agent Orange exposure and making a claim, see http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange.
6. Hire an expert. Don’t go it alone, especially if you’re applying for Aid & Attendance. It’s a complex process and not all the details, exceptions, and updates are easy to find for the average consumer. So get help from an eldercare attorney or consultant with VA expertise.
Apply for VA benefits online https://www.1010ez.med.va.gov, by calling 1-877-222-VETS (8387), or in person. To find VA facilities, see www2.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp.
Consultants and eldercare lawyers:
- National Elder Law Foundation, http://www.nelf.org/find-a-cela
- American Bar Association www.americanbar.org/groups/law_aging.html
VA benefits basics:
- http://www.vba.va.gov/VBA/benefits/factsheets/index.asp#BM1 chart
Aid & Attendance:
- Nightly News: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgvO986sa7c
CREDIT: This blog was distilled from a recent SRES article By Elyse Umlauf-Garneau including contributions from Carlotta Katra, president of Aging Avenues Eldercare Consulting, Indianapolis, Ind., a fee-only consulting company with an expertise in VA benefits.