Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

What will 2017 bring to Seniors and Persons with Disabilities? - Part II

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Tue, Jan 24, 2017

What will 2017 bring to Seniors and Persons with Disabilities? - Part II

In last week's blog 'What will 2017 Bring to Seniors and Persons with Disabilities? - Part I' we discussed some of the key issues to watch out for in 2017 including Medicare and Medicaid reform. In Part II of the blog we continue our review of potential impacts on legislation that affects seniors and persons with disabilities.

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Affordable Care Act

Republicans are already moving to repeal and replace Obamacare. The question is: How much will be repealed? There are several programs included in the ACA, not related to traditional health insurance, that are important to elder law attorneys and their clients. For example, Medicaid expansion, a kind of Medicaid reform, is part of the ACA.

The ACA also includes programs that work toward ending the institutional bias in Medicaid. One is Community First Choice, a state plan that provides home- and community-based services. Currently it has an extremely low-income threshold so it’s a limited population, but it’s a start.

Another is Money Follows the Person, which pays for transition services. For example, it could provide extra funds to help someone leave a nursing home, by paying for a housing coordinator to find an apartment, a roommate, buy basic furniture and so on.

We are moving toward home- and community-based service, which many people favor. How will that interact with Medicaid reforms? Because they are optional, some fear that with per capita caps, these services will be among the first to go. There may be more opportunities to expand these services through block grants because they allow more flexibility in what is offered. Along this line, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has introduced a bill called the Disability Integration Act, which would make home- and community-based services a civil right.

Other Medicaid-Related Issues to Watch

Limiting home equity: This proposal, H.R. 1361, would take away the state option to expand the cap for single individual home owners. It would not impact people who have a community spouse living in the home or if you have a disabled child or a dependent under 21. 

Medical liability reform: This could impact whether individuals get adequate access to personal injury settlements and funds that can be put into a special needs trust.

Long-Term Care Reform

There has been a lot of discussion on Capitol Hill about picking up the pieces on long-term care. After a decade, the market has completely collapsed. John Hancock just withdrew, and Genworth was bought out by a Chinese private equity firm. Republicans and Democrats agree on the problem, but there doesn’t seem to be common ground yet on a solution. The Senate Aging Committee is starting the process, which is a positive step. There are calls for catastrophic coverage, at least on the back end, and probably some sort of front-end coverage for two or three years. There may be some long-term care reform as part of Medicaid reform.

VA Benefit Rules

The new rules have been delayed again until at least April, 2017. Fixing the VA is a Trump priority. An important piece to what will happen with the VA is who Trump names to head the VA and Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA). 

Nursing home binding arbitration rules

Nursing homes must comply with binding arbitration rules to have access to Medicare or Medicaid funds. NAELA has been working with others to push CMS to ban pre-dispute binding arbitration. The for-profit nursing home industry association is fighting it and recently won a preliminary injunction in a Mississippi district court (American Health Care Association et al v. Burwell). We do not yet know if the Trump Administration will appeal this ruling and continue with banning binding arbitration for nursing home contracts. 

In Kindred Nursing Centers Limited Partnership v. Clark in Kentucky, the issue is whether federal arbitration acts overrule the state’s arbitration acts. The state of Kentucky has a law that says in order to waive the principal’s constitutional right to a jury trial, the agent must be given that specific authority within the power of attorney. Whether this is overturned is likely to hinge on President Trump’s pick to fill Justice Scalia’s vacancy on the Supreme Court.

 Conclusion

There are a number of issues that will be addressed in 2017 that can have significant impact on seniors and their loved ones, Veterans, and persons with disabilities. If you have questions or would like to discuss any of the issues raised here, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops. Call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

 

Tags: disabled, seniors, Affordable Health Care Act, Veteran, VA benefits, VA, Medicaid, Nursing Home, Estate Planning, Elder Law, elder care, New estate tax law, new regulations, trusts, Nursing Home Costs, social security

VA is Proposing a 3 Year Look Back Together with a Penalty of Up To 10 Years

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Mon, Feb 23, 2015

VA is Proposing a 3 Year Look Back Together with a Penalty of Up To 10 Years | Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney

 

veterans_benefits_lawyer 

On January 23, 2015, the VA took the initiative in proposing new regulations that would hit wartime veterans and their spouses with a penalty of up to 10 years for making gifts, if they wish to qualify for the VA’s Aid and Attendance program.

As readers of this blog know, the Aid and Attendance program is a non-service connected pension can provide as much as $2,120 per month in tax free income to help pay the cost of long term care.  This program is means tested with an asset limit of about $80,000.  Currently, there is no look back period like Medicaid has, so that transfers for less than fair value to individuals or trusts do not result in a waiting or penalty period for benefits.

Federal legislators have introduced two bills since 2012 seeking to impose a 3 year look back. Neither bill has managed to pass both houses of Congress yet though. The VA however, is sick of waiting and is trying to take matters into its own hands.  They have proposed a penalty of up to 10 years that would result from uncompensated transfers. The penalty itself would be calculated by dividing the amount of the transfer by the claimant’s pension rate. 

Other changes include a net worth standard of $119,220 including annual income. In other words, an applicant would need to have no more than $119,220 in assets and annual income combined in order to qualify.  The higher the applicant’s income, the lower the amount of assets they can keep.

Under the proposal, expenses related to independent living facilities would not count as care costs.  This would mean that veterans with dementia, or other degenerative diseases who can no longer safely live in their own homes but who don’t yet need assistance with the activities of daily living will not be able to include the cost of that facility in an effort to qualify for the VA benefit. Daily living activities are things like such as bathing, dressing, eating, toileting and transferring. Finally, the applicant’s home will remain an exempt asset towards the net worth limitation only if the lot on which it sits is less than 2 acres.

These changes will dramatically reduce the ability of many veterans to qualify for this important benefit.  The new regulations have been submitted for public comment.  To fight these changes, everyone who cares about veterans must respond no later than March 24, 2015.  You can send your comments through http://www.regulations.gov or by mail to Director, Regulation Policy and Management (02REG), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave. NW., Room 1068, Washington, DC 20420 or by fax to (202) 273-9026.  Comments should include that they are in response to “RIN 2900-AO73, Net Worth, Asset Transfers and Income Exclusions for Needs-Based Benefits”.

 

Click here to access our free report on Aid and Attendance Benefits.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we provide a unique education and counseling process which includes our unique 19 Point Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Review to help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones, click here for more information. We provide clients with a unique approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

 

 Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: long term care, Nursing Homes, veterans benefits, Nursing Home, wartime veteran, Veteran, federal, look-back, VA benefits, penalty, 2015

Aid & Attendance Pension

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Mon, Oct 20, 2014

Aid & Attendance Pension | Massachusetts Elder Care Attorney

  

 veterans

 

A Little Known Tool for Our Nation’s Heroes

When fighting for the nation comes to the close, every veteran will be proud to come back home to live in peace with their family. Well, that may sound good for the youth that enlisted, but when entering into the golden years, every veteran and his surviving spouse needs a better home care as the cost of assisted living continues to rise. 

Is there an official care for the nation’s hero? Yes, the Veterans Administration has an vastly underused pension benefit called Aid and Attendance that provides money to those who need assistance performing everyday tasks. Families of Veterans should be assisted with the VA’s benefit programs that are available to those honorably discharged Veterans who are age 65 and older and are struggling to pay for their cost of care. 

Revealing the Secret

Most of the veterans have no idea of this pension program exists. The official title of this benefit is a Pension; the reason for using the Aid and Attendance to refer pension is that many veterans (or their single surviving spouses) can become eligible if they have a steady need for the aid and attendance of a caregiver, or if they are housebound. Evidence for this need for care must be certified by VA as a rating. With their rating in place, certain veterans or their surviving spouses can now qualify for Pension.

 

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we provide a unique education and counseling process which includes our unique 19 Point Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Review to help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones, click here for more information. We provide clients with a unique approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Tags: veterans benefits, wartime veteran, benefit, VA, VA benefit, VA benefits

Three Ways to Pay for Long Term Care part 2

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Aug 15, 2014

Three Ways to Pay for Long Term Care continued

Long term care insurance, IRA, trust

In our last post we were discussing the difficulties in funding long term care through either insurance or Medicaid.  Most insurance companies seem to be getting out of the long term care market entirely or drastically raising premiums.  Medicaid, the primary government program that covers long term care, is still a fall back for many.  But, there are gaps in terms of what it will and will not cover, and it is increasingly difficult for many to navigate the Medicaid system.

This is especially so given the two objectives most of our clients want to achieve: making sure they have enough money to meet their own needs as well as passing on a legacy to their children and grandchildren.  Without proper planning for long term care, however, the first objective may overwhelm the second, making it unachievable.

That’s where long term care insurance has sometimes helped.  It’s also where our specialty of setting up 5 year planning using trusts, has also helped.  But, sometimes there is no long term care insurance, it’s too late to get it and the legal solution can only go so far.

Self-funding with asset based long term care financial products just might be the answer.  As some insurance companies have left the long term care insurance market, others are now offering alternative ways to fund the care, such as life insurance or annuities.

These products allow your money to grow tax deferred.  It can then be used to pay for long term care and, unlike traditional long term care insurance you don’t have to worry about “using it or losing it”.  A death benefit is paid to your heirs if you don’t use it (or only use some).

The longer you wait until you start drawing out the investment, the more time to build up the account value for use as long term care.  While these investments don’t return the higher rates that can be gained in the market, they also don’t put your principal at risk, meaning you won’t lose any of it if there is another 10 to 30% market correction.  For those who have their money sitting in CDs and cash earning less than 1%, the higher rates are a clear bonus.

Many of these products do not have the same underwriting requirements that exist for long term care insurance.  Whereas a diagnosis of dementia or being age 75 or older would preclude Long Term Care Insurance entirely, these asset based products may still be an option, even as late as age 85.

For our clients with large IRA accounts who want to protect some of that account for loved ones, moving the money to a trust results in a large income tax bill because the account can no longer remain tax deferred.  However, purchasing asset based long term products within the IRA can allow the account to remain tax deferred, increase the income value significantly if long term care is needed, and provide a death benefit for your loved ones if not needed.

 

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: Nursing Home Costs, long term care, veterans benefits, VA benefit, VA benefits, Massachusetts, Nursing Home, Veteran, VA, Nursing Home, long term care insurance

There Are Three Ways to Pay for Long Term Care

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Tue, Aug 12, 2014

The Three Ways to Pay for Long Term Care

VA Long Term Care

As we always explain to people, there are 3 ways to pay for long term care:  The first way is to use your own money.  The second source is long term care insurance and the third is government benefits, primarily Medicaid and the VA Aid and Attendance program.

We have written before in this blog about government benefits, especially Medicaid.  Because long term care is so expensive and so many people run out of money, Medicaid, as a last resort, must always be considered. Unfortunately, the economy is still struggling and tax revenues, which provide the funding for Medicaid, are down.  State and Federal governments are always looking for ways to cut costs and Medicaid is likely to continue to be a target for them.  The VA Aid and Attendance benefit, which has been a help to some, is not a total solution by itself and is also likely to be more restrictive.  Of course, VA benefits have never been an option for the non-Veteran senior population.  As we see fewer World War II veterans, there are fewer Korean veterans behind them, and still fewer Vietnam veterans coming behind them.

Long term care insurance is an important piece as well, unfortunately, all too often we find that too many people don’t have it, and when they do seriously consider purchasing the insurance, just as they start to think that they just might need long term care, it’s too late. They are now too old or too ill to pass insurance underwriting requirements.

What we have also seen, and what we have written about in the past, is the change occurring as a result of an aging population and poor forecasting by the insurance industry.  Many companies have dropped out of the long term care market altogether.  Others have presented their policyholders with large premium increases with the promise of more to follow each year.  America’s seniors are faced with the choice of paying the increases or cutting their coverage.

So, what other options are there for seniors looking for coverage?  Let’s go back to the first way to pay for care, self-funding or using your own money.  We see so many seniors who fall into one of two categories:  Some have their savings heavily invested in the stock market and other investments that are too risky for someone who could need large amounts of principal to pay for long term care.  If the market drops by 25% or more again like it did a few years ago, many seniors won’t have the ability to hold on till their investments recover. Others have gone the other way and put their savings in bank accounts and CDs that earn less than 1%.  The principal is safe from market fluctuations but they are getting a next to nothing rate of return.  Coupled with Social Security and small pensions, most seniors today have income in the $2000 to $4000 per month range; not enough to meet their monthly expenses without dipping into the principal.

So, is there are another way?  The answer, happily, is yes.  With asset based long term care products, there is a way to self-fund the cost of long term care and have something left for your spouse, children and loved ones.  We’ll tell you more about it in our next blog post, so be sure to watch for it.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: massachusetts estate planning strategies, Nursing Home Costs, long term care, Nursing Homes, VA benefit, VA benefits, Massachusetts, Nursing Home, incapacity, senior, Veteran, VA, Nursing Home, long term care insurance

Dealing with Financial and Emotional Costs of Dementia

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Wed, Jun 11, 2014

Helping Families Deal With the Financial and Emotional Costs of Dementia 

 Estate Planning, Alzheimers, Hardships, Dementia, Elderly, Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Homes, Financial Protection, Writing a will, Asset Protection,

Last month was National Elder Law Month A time for us to help educate the public about Elder Law and how we can help seniors and their families by providing solutions to the unique issues that come with aging.  Today we will discuss a debilitating condition that many Americans eventually face as they age:  dementia.  First, we will describe what dementia is and what it isn’t.  Then we will turn our focus to its costs to the individual, the family and our nation.  Statistics show that Massachuestts costs range from $13,800 - $16,000 per month for a Nursing Home, $5,400 - $7,500 per month for assisted living, and $15 - $32 an hour for in-home care. We are specially situated to help find solutions to many of the problems this condition brings with it.  While we can’t stop dementia, we can help protect those in its clutches while the medical world continues to seek prevention, treatment and reversal of the condition.

            Dementia Defined  

The Alzheimer’s Association defines dementia as, “a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example. Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia.” 

 

Dementia is not actually a specified disease.  It describes, instead, a general decline in memory or other thinking skills and is identified through a variety of symptoms.  Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.  In order to be characterized as dementia, at least two of the following mental functions must be significantly impaired:  visual perception; reasoning and judgment; memory; communication and language; or ability to focus and pay attention.  Dementia is not a normal part of aging as the terms “senility" or "senile dementia” infer. 

If a loved one is having trouble with any two or more of these mental functions, it’s a good idea to get it checked by a doctor.  Dementia is progressive and typically takes over the mental functions over time.  In this way, it provides the individual and the family with time to plan for its disastrous affects. [1]

 

Cost to the Individual

The cost to the individual with dementia is difficult to quantify.  Because dementia is a progressive condition and one where aging is the greatest risk factor, it is logical that at the beginning and younger stages of dementia, the cost to the individual is minimal.  As dementia progresses, so does the need for assistance with daily activities. 

This assistance often comes in the form of meal preparation, help with grooming and hygiene, transportation assistance, as well as help with many other daily activities.  Dementia patients can become so mentally challenged that they may place themselves in dangerous situations, such as roaming neighborhoods and getting lost.

  While the individual affected by dementia may need only a few hours of help per week at the beginning of symptoms showing, soon they may need around the clock supervision, not only for assistance with daily activities, but to protect them from themselves.  The individual’s costs will include medical expenses as well as paying a caretaker. 

Caretaking for one with dementia varies depending on the quantity of care required.  Statistics show that Massachuestts costs range from $13,800 - $16,000 per month for a Nursing Home; $5,400 - $7,500 per month for assisted living; and $15 - $32 an hour for in-home care. 

 

Cost to the Family

Where the individual with dementia is fortunate enough to have family nearby, the family will often step up to assist the ill loved one with their daily activities.  Again, the process can be gradual and before the helpful family member realizes it, they may find themselves missing work and, finally, quitting their job altogether in order to give proper care to the dementia patient.  Obviously, the cost to the family includes the loss of income from this family member’s job. 

The less recognizable cost to the family, however, is the emotional strain that is placed on the family member caretaker.  In order to save the family money, many family members will work nearly twenty-four hours, seven days per week.  The ramifications are physical, mental and emotional health problems to the caretaker.  The medical costs and possible future psychological costs to the caretaker, then, must be considered.

 

            It is important that family members: take a step back from the situation and assess this cost.  Providing a caretaker with time off every day, week and year is a must to ensure the caretaker’s health.  The caretaker must have appropriate support in order to keep caring for the loved one.


Cost to the Nation

As a nation we have begun to recognize the devastation that dementia has caused and will continue to cause.  Organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association have been effective in lobbying for monies to be put towards the research of dementia treatment, prevention and reversal.  The cost of dementia to our nation has been a great motivator for politicians to fund such research.


A study conducted by RAND Corporation in 2013, estimated the national cost of dementia to be between $159 billion to $215 billion (including an estimate for the monetary value of informal care provided).[2]  The majority of the costs associated with dementia are for institutional and home-based long-term care and not medical services. 

Medicare and Medicaid pay for some of this cost, which amounts to a taxpayer burden.  According to the Alzheimer’s Association March 2013 Fact Sheet, in 2013 it is estimated that Medicare and Medicaid paid approximately $142 billion in caring for those with Alzheimer’s or other type of dementia.[3]

           

It is clearly in the best interest of the nation’s economy to continue research on prevention, treatment and reversal of dementia.

 

            Conclusion

 The costs of dementia can be devastating to the affected individual, their family and the nation.  While scientists continue to search for solutions to the debilitating condition, the families affected with it must face its challenges.  It is recommended that those families seek emotional support by way of a therapist or support group. In our recent book, “Senior and Boomer’s Guide to Health Care Reform and Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty” we provided helpful information how families can obtain quality care and protect a loved one with Alzheimer’s.  In addition, seeking out an Elder Law attorney can benefit the affected individual and family members in several ways.  We can also ensure that the family’s assets are being used in the most efficient manner considering other available resources and the family’s individual goals. 

 

Becoming educated and involved in planning for the challenges ahead is one of the MOST important steps a family facing the impact of dementia will take.  If you or someone you know is affected by dementia, we can help and we welcome the opportunity to do so.  To attend a workshop call 800-964-4295 or register online at DSullivan.com. For more information regarding our books, free workshops, and a DVD entitled,

“Helping People and Their Families on the Alzheimer’s Journey,”

Call our office at 781-237-2815.

 

 Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

[1] http://www.alz.org/what-is-dementia.asp
[2] http://www.rand.org/news/press/2013/04/03.hml
[3] http://act.alz.org/site/DocServer/2012_Costs_Fact_Sheet_version_2.pdf?docID=7161 
 

Tags: Estate Planning, Alzheimer's Disease, MassHealth, dementia, VA benefits, alzheimers, caretaker

VA Rules are Changing: NEW Three Year Look Back! | Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Nov 08, 2013

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The winds of change are blowing over the VA landscape.  I’ve written about this in the past and the time may soon be here.  These are changes that you need to understand.

 Over the years, many of our clients have been able to qualify for an Improved Pension (sometimes called Aid and Attendance Benefit) to help pay for the cost of long term care, whether that be in an assisted living facility or nursing home or to enable them to stay home longer. This VA benefit has helped many people meet the high cost of care and stretch their dollars.

 In order to be eligible for the VA benefit, as a rule of thumb, claimants had to have assets totaling less than about $80,000 (not counting their home or car). They also had to meet the VA income rules. While giving away assets triggers a five year look-back under the Medicaid rules, under the VA rules there is no look-back period for gifts or asset transfers.

 All of that may be about to change under new VA legislation making its way through the House and Senate.

 While the legislation has not yet been voted on, there are commonalities in the bills which tell us that a change in the law is near. Among the biggest proposed changes are the following:

  • A penalty with a three year look-back for asset transfers under the VA rules.

  • Under the new rules, transferring money into a Vet Trust or into an annuity will also trigger the three year look-back period.

  • What’s more, penalties caused by an asset transfer from a now-deceased spouse will carry over to the surviving spouse.

 As with so many bills that wind through the legislative process, no one can know for sure what the final result will be until the House and Senate have each voted and then reconciled their respective bills and then the President must sign it. Our best guess is that the new legislation will probably make its way to a vote early next year and it appears likely that it will become the law of the land at that time.

 For that reason, people who are eyeing VA eligibility would do well to get their plans in place now before the anticipated law changes. Any new law will be prospective only, meaning opportunities still exist now under the current laws.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Tags: Estate Planning, asset protection, veterans benefits, VA benefits, Veteran, VA, 2013

Massachusetts Veteran Benefit Lawyer | Secret Dollars Veteran's Benefits From New Guide

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Nov 23, 2012

Here is a chapter preview: How to Use “Secret Dollars” to Pay for Long Term Care-Veteran’s Benefit for Long-Term Care Revealed,from our upcoming book entitled the “Senior and Boomers Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty”. Learn about valuable benefits that you may be entitled to. The chapter provides information on Veteran Administration benefits,  how to apply and who qualifies. There are currently thousands of veterans who are missing out on th is valuable benefit that may help pay for in home, long term care or assisted living costs.Veterans Benefits, VA, Veterans, Assests

How to Use “Secret Dollars” to Pay for Long Term Care

Veteran’s Benefit for Long-Term Care Revealed

Thousands of Massachusetts veterans may not be receiving the VA aid and attendance benefits they are entitled to.  One of the VA’s best-kept secrets, which is an excellent potential source of funds for long-term care are veteran’s benefits for a non-service connected disability.  Most VA benefits and pensions are based on a disability that was incurred during a veteran’s wartime service.  This particular benefit is available for individuals who are disabled due to the issues of old age, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and other physical disabilities and have the additional requirement of needing the aid and attendance of another person in order to avoid the hazards of his or her daily environment.  What that means in English is the veteran needs someone to help him or her prepare meals, bathe, dress and otherwise take care of him or herself.  These benefits can be a blessing for the eligible disabled individual who is not yet ready for a nursing home. 

Under this program, a veteran not married to another veteran can receive a maximum of $2,019 per month in benefits and a widow can receive up to $1,094 per month

In order to qualify for these “Secret Dollars”, the applicant must be “permanently and totally disabled” based on VA standards.  The applicant does not need to be helpless – he/she need only show that he/she is in need of aid and attendance on a regular basis.  Someone who is housebound or in an assisted living facility and over the age of 65 is presumed by the Veterans Administration to be in need of aid and attendance.  We were shocked to learn that thousands of Massachusetts veterans in need may be missing out on this valuable benefit which they have a legal right to receive. 

Filing a Claim for Veteran’s Benefits

To file a claim for this benefit, it is wise to seek the involvement of a trained veteran’s service officer.  A Veteran’s Service Officer is critical to the filing of an application with the local VA regional office.  It is also important to seek the guidance of an experienced elder law attorney who is familiar with estate planning, disability, Medicaid and veterans’ benefits. 

Do You Qualify for “Secret Dollars”?

This particular program does have substantial limitations related to the income and assets that are held by the applicant.  However, 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 Income for Veteran Administration Purposes (IVAP) that is ultimately used to determine whether or not a person qualifies. 

Some of the cost of an assisted living facility, and even some of the cost of an independent living facility may 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 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.  Please contact our firm, The Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates, for a more information or for asset protection analysis.  You can call us at (781) 237-2815.  The professionals at the firm are experienced helping counsel people and their families in the area of elder law services for senior citizens, including estate planning, disability, Medicaid planning, and veterans’ benefits related to long-term care needs.

For more information, you can gain free online access to the “Senior and Boomers Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty” which contains secret benefits on health care reform and avoiding nursing home poverty. To Learn even more register to attend one of our free educational workshops hosted by a team of professionals and VA accreditted attorneys.

  VA benefits, assets, VA, veterans benefits

Tags: veterans benefits, VA benefits, assets, VA

Key to Unlocking VA Benefits | Massachusetts VA Benefits Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Sep 07, 2012

Today you're going to learn what the VA considers "Unreimbursed Medical Expenses" - that is, what you and your loved one are paying out of your pockets - also referred to as "UME." This is a key factor to help you determine if a veteran may qualify for a pension! The formula the VA uses to calculate your real income is below:

Wartime Veteran & Spouse (if any) Gross household annual income

Minus: Unreimbursed medical expenses (UME) - for one year

Equals: Net income for Veterans Benefits purposes

VA benefits

Now, what qualifies as Unreimbursed Medical Expenses? Well, first of all, your household annual income includes anything the veteran earns, as well as his/her spouse or dependents. From that number, you would subtract UME's - which include doctors' and dentists' fees, Medicare premiums and copayments, insurance premiums, transportation to the doctor's office, and the cost of assisted living facilities or in-home caretakers. But there's much more - take a look below to see everything that qualifies!

Listing of Possible Medical Expenses: (this is only a partial list)

-Medicare premiums deducted from Social Security

-Supplementary medical insurance (Part B) under Medicare

-Abdominal supports

-Acupuncture service

-Ambulance hire

-Anesthetist

-Arch supports

-Artificial limbs

-Back supports

-Braces

-Cardiographs

-Chiropodist

-Chiropractor

-Convalescent home (for medical treatment only)

-Crutches

-Dental services

-Dentures

-Dermatologist

-Eyeglasses

-Food or beverages prescribed by doctor for treatment of illness

-Gynecologist

-Hearing aids & batteries

-Home health services

-Hospital expenses

-Insulin treatment

-Insurance premiums (medical)

-Invalid chair

-Lab tests

-Lip reading lessons (in connection with disability)

-Neurologist

-Nursing services

-Occupational therapist

-Ophthalmologist

-Optician

-Optometrist

-Oral surgery

-Osteopath

-Pediatrician

-Physical examinations

-Physician

-Physical therapy

-Podiatrist

-Prescriptions and drugs

-Psychiatrist

-Psychoanalyst

-Psychologist

-Psychotherapy

-Radium therapy

-Sacroiliac belt

-Seeing-eye dog

-Speech therapist

-Splints

-Surgeon

-Telephone/teletype for deaf

-Transportation expenses (20 cents per mile)

-Vaccines

-Vitamins prescribed by doctor

-Wheelchairs

-Whirlpool baths for medical purposes

-X rays

Note: Most medical expenses must be prescribed by a physician to be deductible from gross income for VA benefit qualification purposes.

So you see, depending on what your income is and what your medical expenses are, you may qualify - even if your gross monthly income seems too high. If you have questions about anything in the list above or aren't sure if an expense you incur is "unreimbursed" or not, go ahead and give us a call at (781) 237-2815.

For more information go to www.SullivanVeteransReport.com, which contains important information on the “Hidden Benefit” available to veterans and their spouses, and the steps you should be taking right now to find out if your loved one qualifies.

Download our FREE Veterans Benefit Report

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops. Call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

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Nursing home care is more than $140,000-$180,000 per year! Attend this FREE educational seminar to learn:

  • How to protect your home and assets from the costs of long-term care
  • How to stay out of the nursing home and access in-home care
  • How to make sure your spouse is not left financially ruined if you need nursing home care
  • How to access Veterans benefits to pay for long-term care

       To register or call (800) 964-4295 (24/7) or online at www.SeniorWorkshop.com 

 

 

Tags: Estate Planning, Medicare, veterans benefits, VA benefits, medical expenses, unreimbured medical expenses, UME, wartime veteran

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