How are you planning to spend the Memorial Day holiday this year?
Memorial Day is on May 27th and as the holiday fast approaches, you may be wondering how to best recognize the veterans you love. In reality, there is no one best way to show your appreciation, but caring for your veteran loved one, as well as preparing for their long-term care is a great way to pay your respects.
To help you accomplish this, let us share with you a few tips about caring for the veterans you love this Memorial Day.
First, we encourage you to spend some quality time with your loved one. Whether you attend a Memorial Day festival, take your loved one out for a meal, or simply sit with your loved one and watch television, your loved one will undoubtedly appreciate the time you spend with them. Memorial Day may also be a good time to evaluate your loved one’s changing needs based on the last time you saw him or her, and discuss where your loved one sees him or herself residing in the near future.
Once you have determined the type of care your loved one needs, the next step may be to interview caregivers or visit assisted living facilities. It is important to include your loved one in this process to ensure that he or she is comfortable with the caregiver or facility. Consider taking your loved one on a visit to an assisted living facility or asking him or her to be vocal about which potential caregiver he or she feels most comfortable with.
When the time is right for you and your loved one, we encourage you to connect with an experienced Elder Law attorney to prepare a plan for rising long-term care costs. An Elder Law attorney can also help determine whether your loved one is eligible for any VA benefits, such as Aid and Attendance, and can apply for those benefits on your loved one’s behalf. We know this can be a challenging conversation to have, but planning ahead can help ensure your loved one’s needs will be taken care of and will remain protected in the future.
These are just a few ways you can care for the veterans you love this Memorial Day. We know this article may raise more questions than it answers and we encourage you to schedule a meeting with us to discuss them, as well as a plan for your loved one’s future.
As we look to care for our parents and grandparents as they age in Florida, we need to think about their current and potential long-term care needs. How will they be able to find good care should they need it? Where should they look for help? What is available in our community? How will they be able to afford the care they need should the time come?
Unfortunately, many Florida seniors do not begin to plan for the high cost of long-term care until it is too late. For a myriad of reasons, they did not plan forward to think about what they may need both now and for a future that includes an increased need for long-term care assistance. Most of us today simply cannot afford the additional thousands of dollars per month it would cost to have support from home healthcare or a semi-private room in a skilled nursing facility without rethinking our finances and looking for help from public benefits.
While many Florida seniors turn to Medicaid and other local community programs for assistance, for Florida veterans, there are additional benefits available. They range from health care and funeral assistance to disability support and pension assistance. For many veterans the available benefits remain unused and hard to obtain due to the qualification that is required to gain access to them.
Perhaps the most beneficial program for the Florida senior veteran in need of long-term care assistance is the VA Pension program.
The VA Pension program is in no way tied to a service-connected disability.
In fact, the health care disability standard associated at the basic level is met simply by being over age 65. This a monthly, tax-free benefit that can increase based on the health care needs of the veteran.
The rules changed substantially for this program on October 18, 2018. This program is not an automatic benefit for wartime veterans and their dependents. They must prove, first, that the veteran served for at least 90 days of active service with one day during a period of war. Second, he or she must prove that he or she was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.
Now, to access this program, the new rules created a few more qualifications. For example, there is an asset limit for the veteran’s countable resources. Prior to the rule changes, there was no set amount in place. This year the veteran may have $126,240, excluding exempt assets, and this amount will change each year.
Further, through these rules the Department of Veterans Affairs created a “look-back” period. A “look-back” period is a period of time during which the Department may review assets to determine if the veteran has made gifts of his or her resources. A similar set up currently exists for the Florida Medicaid program. The “look-back” period will be for thirty-six months. If the VA determines this occurred the veteran may face a disqualification period.
These are just a few ways the VA Pension program has changed.
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers and encourage you to schedule a meeting with us to get the answers you need for yourself and your loved ones.
We know that Florida seniors often find themselves in a difficult situation. As their health care and living expenses increase, their ability to work and generate income decreases. It is an unsettling scenario, but one that the Veterans Administration may be able to help with for those eligible for VA pensions.
A VA pension is a tax-free monetary benefit paid to low-income wartime vets who are either age 65 or older, disabled, living in nursing homes, receiving Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income. An additional, and under-used, type of pension benefit that all impacted veterans should be aware of is called Aid and Attendance. This is available for veterans and the surviving spouses of veterans whose unreimbursed medical expenses exceed their monthly income. The purpose is to provide financial assistance for those who need help performing activities of daily living.
If you are not sure if you or your loved one qualifies, consider contacting an accredited VA attorney to help determine your eligibility or for information about how to access the VA Pension with the Aid and Attendance benefit. Remember, veterans whose income is above the limit for a VA pension also may qualify if they have large medical expenses that are not reimbursable. Your VA accredited attorney can discuss with you options to become eligible or how to find the long-term care support you need.
Aid and Attendance support is available for vets who served at least 90 days, with at least one day during wartime. It is not reserved for those with service-related disabilities. Veterans, and their surviving spouses, are eligible if they meet the above criteria and if they need aid from another person to help them perform basic living activities, such as:
Assistance with personal care needs, like bathing, dressing and using the bathroom.
Living in a nursing home.
Are mentally or physically incapacitated.
If they are bedridden.
Suffer from extremely poor eyesight.
A second long-term care benefit tied to the VA Pension program is known as the Housebound Allowance. This underused pension feature offers an additional monthly monetary benefit for veterans who are significantly restricted to their homes because of a permanent disability. Eligibility rules may require a written statement from a doctor describing a qualifying vet’s needs and limitations and you will want to discuss this with your VA accredited attorney as well.
Finally, Aid and Attendance and Housebound Allowance benefits are paid on top of monthly pension payments. This means that they increase the overall pension amount, making people who are not normally eligible for a basic VA pension due to excessive income potentially eligible for these long-term care items.
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers for you. We encourage you to ask us your questions this Veterans Day or, at any time, schedule a consultation with attorney Scott Selis to get the elder care support you need.