My father fought in WWII and died in January 1993. My mom presently lives in an Assisted Living Community. My mom is 92 years old and cannot live on her own anymore. Would she qualify for a VA benefit of any kind? How would I go about obtaining this information to help my mom. Her Assisted Living Community costs her more than $3500 a month. Mom sold her house but once the money runs out I worry what will happen and how she will be cared for? I would appreciate any information you could give me.
Answers for Massachusetts Veterans
The good news is as a surviving spouse your mother may be eligible for an “Aid and Attendance” benefit. In order to qualify for this benefit your mother must have limited assets and low yearly Income for Veteran’s Administration Purposes (IVAP). You should locate your town or region’s Veteran’s Service Officer who is critical to the filing of an application with the local VA regional office.
There is a two-part test for qualification, an assets test and an income test.
I. The Asset Test
In order to qualify to receive benefits your mothers total net worth, less certain exemptions allowed by the Veteran’s Association, should be under $50,000 (home, vehicles, life insurance policies). It may be possible to qualify for benefits if your total net worth is greater than $50,000 but being under that number greatly increase an applicant’s chances of qualification.
II. The Income Test
The countable income for veterans’ benefits is determined by taking an individual’s gross income and subtracting from that all of their unreimbursed medical expenses to determine their IVAP, which is ultimately used to determine whether or not a person qualifies. For your mother, a surviving spouse with no dependents, her IVAP cannot exceed $1,056 per month.
The cost of an assisted living facility, and even part or all of the cost of an independent living facility, can also be an allowable medical deduction to reduce a veteran’s gross income to a much lower net countable income that may qualify him or her for veterans’ benefits. It is very important to meet with a knowledgeable veteran’s service officer or an experienced elder law attorney for a pre-filing consultation to determine whether or not a veteran may qualify. It is also important to review the estate planning work to see what may be done to assist the veteran in qualifying for this particular benefit. There may be planning steps that can be implemented before applying that will help a veteran or widow to qualify and or obtain an increased benefit.
Determining what is the countable income as measured by the Veterans Administration is very confusing to many individuals in. An attorney skilled in elder law and accredited with the Veteran’s Administration can provide a veteran and the veteran’s family with appropriate pre-filing consultations to determine the appropriate steps that must be taken to be able to determine if it would be right to apply for this VA benefit.
If you are in Massachusetts and would like to discuss Veteran’s Benefits more extensively, please call our office at (781)-237-2815 or register to attend one of our free educational workshops. You can also access our free Nuts & Bolts Guide to Veteran’s Benefits and learn what you can do to maximize your benefit.