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Friday, January 13, 2017

VA Closing the Door on Benefits

For several months, the VA has let it be known that it’s going to get much harder for Veterans to receive help with their long-term care expenses. For many years, this “Aid and Attendance” benefit has been a godsend to thousands of veterans and their spouses. With this VA help, they’re able to afford helpers coming to their home, going to Adult Day Care, or living in an Assisted Living facility. For many, this has meant staying out of a nursing home, and remaining where they are. Not having to go into a nursing home, where the veteran would soon end up on Medicaid, actually saved the taxpayers money, since the monthly Medicaid subsidy is much larger than the VA payment. The scenario below demonstrates why using Veterans’ Benefits can prove beneficial in the long run.

As a resident in an Assisted Living facility, Jack’s monthly costs were more than his Social Security and work pension covered, so he was taking money out of his savings every month. In five years, Jack’s savings would be gone, and he would have to leave the facility. Fortunately, our analysis also showed that once he starts receiving additional money each month from the VA, Jack’s savings are going to last not five years, but nearly ten years. Our story about Jack touched on a hard, almost cruel financial reality for Assisted Living residents:  after they’ve exhausted their savings to pay the monthly bills, they have to leave.

After calling the Assisted Living Community home for several years, Jack will have to move into a Nursing Home that accepts Medicaid. Jack doesn’t require that level of care, so it won’t be easy for him to find a good Nursing Home that will take him as an immediate Medicaid resident.  In our experience, when a family member needs long-term care, the family’s second biggest worry (after how best to care for the loved one) is the expense of long-term care. We’ve seen families delay getting the help they need because they’re nearly paralyzed by their fears of running out of money.

Nearly non-existent interest rates make their retirement income far less than they’d planned on, while at the same time long-term care costs are growing at least 4% per year in Pennsylvania. Over and over again, we see how the extra $1,000 - $2,000 per month that the VA can provide to eligible veterans or their spouses gives the family the capability to deal with the illness, which they never would have enjoyed with the VA help. But time is running out. The time to plan to receive “Aid & Attendance” is NOW before the rules change, because we know they are not going to make it EASIER. 


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HighPoint Law Offices assists clients with Estate Planning, Probate and Estate Administration, Medicaid Planning and IRA Preservation in Chalfont, Pennsylvania and surrounding areas including Bucks, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Lehigh, Monroe and Northampton Counties.



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