1. How long does it take to start receiving the Aid & Attendance Benefit?
From the time of filing the application with the Regional Office of the Department
of Veterans Affairs it typically takes approximately two to three months to receive
a response from the VA. Assuming that the application packet is complete, then
one can receive the award within that time duration. However, since each VA adjudicator
looks at the application somewhat differently and may want something
additional or even the same information on a different form, it often takes 4-6
months to receive the award.
2. Is the benefit retroactive?
Typically, the benefit is awarded retroactive to the first of the month following the
date the application was filed. For example, if the application was filed March 26,
then the “award date” would be April 1 even though approval might not occur until
many months later.
3. Does the veteran/spouse have to be a resident of an Assisted Living
Facility (ALF) or Skilled $ursing Facility (S$F) before making
application for the benefit?
The benefit is not necessarily tied to where the applicant is residing. So if one
were living at home, that person could still file. However, the benefit is tied to the
applicant’s “income for veterans affairs purposes” (IVAP) which is basically a calculation
of gross income minus various “medical expenses” (as defined by the
VA). Medical expenses usually include the cost of the ALF or SNF. Therefore, as
a practical matter, unless the applicant is already residing in an ALF or SNF, his
medical expenses will be very low resulting in IVAP that exceeds the limit for the
benefit to be approved.
4. Is room and board at a facility considered a medical expense in
calculating income for veterans affairs purposes?
All unreimbursed fees paid to the facility for custodial care (including room and
board) and medical/nursing care are typically considered medical expenses. Basically,
if there is a need to live in a protected environment, the entire amount paid
to the facility is a medical expense.
5. Is my home an exempt asset for the rest of my life?
If you consider your home your primary residence (even if you live in a facility),
then it is not counted in calculating your net worth for VA purposes (i.e. exempt).
However, if the home is sold, the proceeds are not considered exempt and eligibility
for the benefit is typically lost.
6. My parent already has a Family Trust/Revocable Living Trust (RLT).
Why would she need a different kind of trust now?
An RLT is neutral in its effect on eligibility for the VA benefit. Therefore, any assets
held by the RLT are counted as if owned directly by the creator of the trust
(the parent). If one's net worth is too high to qualify for the benefit, one can transfer
assets to a different kind of trust, a QVap Trust. Because of the manner in
which the QVap trust is drafted, assets held by it are not counted as owned by the
creator of the trust (the parent). The QVap trust can also retain for the family the
ability to claim the $250,000 exclusion from capital gain and obtain a step up in
income tax basis on the death of the parent.
7. Why is it so important that we use an Accredited Individual?
VA accreditation is the only way that a consumer can be sure that the individual
knows the laws and regulations that apply to the VA benefit programs. To be accredited,
an attorney must periodically take a certain amount of continuing education
courses on VA benefits.
8. Can I, my family, or the facility (I plan to live in) pay a fee to an
individual offering to do the VA application for me?
It is unlawful for anyone to charge an applicant a fee for processing the application.
Further, it is unlawful to charge the facility, or ask for a donation.
9. This sounds to good to be true…what’s the catch?
There really is no catch. However, please understand that in approximately 15%
of the cases that we handle, the applicant, when we first meet, is not qualified
based either on income or net worth, or both. Therefore, either some legal or financial
work has to be done to get the applicant eligible prior to filing. There are
charges for this legal and financial work. You will be informed of what needs to
be done and what those charges will be prior to becoming obligated!
10. How much in net worth am I allowed to have?
You may hear that there is a limit of $80,000 to qualify (not counting exempt assets).
This is merely a VA guideline and depends on your age and other factors.
11. How much income am I allowed to have?
That depends on whether you are a veteran or a surviving spouse and your rating
(i.e. category). The allowable income is expressed as IVAP. (IVAP is income for “veterans affairs purposes” which is basically a calculation of gross income minus
various “medical expenses, “ as defined by the VA. Medical expenses usually
include the cost of the ALF or SNF.) Your IVAP must be less than the maximum
amount of pension you could obtain for your rating. A married veteran in need of
aid and assistance (i.e. rated for aid and assistance) would be entitled to a maximum
pension of approximately $1950 per month. The actual pension is computed
by subtracting the IVAP from the maximum pension. So the IVAP must be less
than the maximum pension to be entitled to anything.
12. Can I use the benefit to pay an individual for Home Health Care?
Yes, you can.
13. Can I use my current financial planner to help me file for the benefit?
First, unless the financial planner is accredited by the VA it would typically be
unlawful for him to do so, even if he were acting for free. Second, if he is not accredited,
how can you know if he really knows the rules that apply to this program
and is giving you the best possible advice.
14. What is a VA fiduciary and how can that delay the benefit?
If the VA believes that the applicant is unable to handle his own financial affairs
(usually based on information contained in the applicant’s physician's report) then
the VA will award the benefit but defer payment until someone is appointed to
take care of the money for the applicant. This person is called a VA fiduciary and
is usually, but not always) a family member. The process of determining if a fiduciary
is necessary and whom to appoint can add another 4-6 months to the process
before VA money is actually received. However, the award is retroactive.
15. What is the VA application process?
It is the process of the preparation, presentation and prosecution of the claim.
16. How much does it cost to have the veterans friend help me?
First, the veterans friend is a community service with a mission to inform and
educate veteran families.
Everyone receives this service for free.
If you decide you want to investigate the VA Pension to see if you qualify you will
fall into one of two groups.
The first group are the people who have assets and income that qualify without
any need for legal, accounting or financial advice. Therefore, everything is Pro
The second group is a different story. This group has income and/or assets that
disqualify them. Typically they will have to pay for legal, accounting and financial
advice. The typical cost for preplanning will be somewhere between $500.00
The Preparation, Presentation, and Prosecution by the Volunteer
VA Accredited Attorney for filing the claim is Free.