Coral Gables, Miami & South Florida Veterans Benefits Attorney
“Aid & Attendance” and “Housebound” are special Veterans Programs designed to help veterans and their surviving spouses receive the financial support necessary to ensure continuing care in their own home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home setting. Benefits may also be available for house-bound individuals that require daily assistance to maintain their health, dignity and safety.
The Application Process
Application for Aid and Attendance or Housebound Benefits is a complex process. The forms are available for you to do this yourself, but be advised that if you apply, and your application is denied, you must wait an entire year before you can reapply. For these reasons, many people seek assistance in completing the application. It is illegal for anyone to charge you a fee to help complete the application or file for benefits.
The Law Office of Brian C. Perlin, P.A. can assist with you with this process – at no cost to you.
How Much Could You Receive?
The cost of assisted living, nursing home or home health care can be substantial. In fact, a 2013 survey conducted by Genworth Financial found that the national median monthly rate for a one-bedroom apartment in an assisted living facility runs $3,450, the national median daily rate for a semi-private nursing home room is $207, and the national median hourly rate for a licensed home health aide is $19. Aid and Attendance Benefits could help defray these types of costs for qualified veterans and their surviving spouses.
The 2014 Maximum Benefits
- Maximum Monthly Benefit for Veteran: $1,758
- Maximum Monthly Benefit for Veteran and Spouse: $2,085
- Maximum Monthly Benefit for Surviving Spouse: $1,130
- Maximum Monthly Benefit for Healthy Veteran with an ill Spouse: $1,380
Note: these are maximum benefit amounts and the actual benefit that is approved may be less.
Who is Eligible for Veterans Benefits?
There are three aspects of eligibility – Service, Medical and Financial.
Service. The basic service qualification is that the veteran must have served at least 90 days of active military duty, with at least one of those days during wartime (as defined by the Veteran’s Administration). Additionally, the veteran must have received a discharge that was other than dishonorable.
Medical. The veteran or surviving spouse must show that they require the “aid and attendance” of another person to perform the basic activities of daily living. The VA defines the need for aid and attendance as:
- Requiring the aid of another person to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting prosthetic devices or protecting himself/herself from the hazards of his/her daily environment, or
- Being blind or nearly blind, or
- Being bedridden, in that his/her disability or disabilities requires that he/she remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment, or
- Being a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity.
Financial. A person requesting the benefit must have a financial need. Each application is evaluated individually, and though it is commonly thought that $80,000 in assets, exclusive of a home and a car, is acceptable, the final decision depends on the VA reviewer. In addition to the asset test, there also is an income test. While there is no specified income limit, the VA considers what it refers to as IVAP – Income for VA Purposes. IVAP is equal to your gross income from all sources, less a portion of unreimbursed medical expenses. If your IVAP is not less than the annual benefit amount, you will not be eligible for benefits.
How Can I Qualify for Veterans Benefits?
What if you are service and medically eligible, but have too many assets or too much income to qualify? You may consider rearranging your assets and/or income to qualify, which may include re-titling or giving away assets, or establishing a Veterans Administration Aid and Attendance Pensions Benefits Trust. Making these types of changes is perfectly legal, but doing so properly can be complicated. Beware that some actions taken to qualify for VA benefits could create a penalty period, or perhaps even disqualify you entirely from receiving Medicaid benefits should they be needed.
Probate is one manner in which estate assets are transferred after death. Since probate can be a lengthy, costly and public process, many people choose to avoid it. Without proper probate avoidance planning, the state will require a probate court proceeding for state residents or those who owned assets in the state. During probate, assets are managed, debts are paid, tax returns are filed along with various court documents, and the estate assets are distributed.
In the absence of any planning to the contrary, your estate will be distributed according to Florida's laws of intestacy. This so-called "default" estate plan might not reflect your wishes. However, if you do plan in advance, you can have your estate administered according to your preferences. A comprehensive estate plan may include a Last Will and Testament, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Advance Directives and Health Care Documents, all supporting your legal, personal, investment and tax planning purposes.
As our population ages, more and more people will confront elder law-related issues. Elder law is an aspect of estate planning that focuses primarily on the changing needs of people as they age. Careful planning can help you avoid spending down your assets on long-term care. Issues include senior housing and home care, long-term care, or nursing home care, guardianships, health care documents, Medicare planning, and Medicaid planning.
South Florida Estate Planning Attorney Brian C. Perlin, assists clients with Estate Planning, Elder Law, Probate Court, Probate & Estate Administration, Long-Term Care, Medicaid Planning, Veterans Benefits, Charitable Planning, Special Needs Planning, Estate Tax Planning, Business Succession and Asset Protection, in the cities of Miami, Coral Gables, and Kendal, Florida, and the surrounding areas.
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