Many of our clients are war-time Veterans who may look to the VA for some help with payment of their long-term care costs and knowing the 2020 VA benefits available is crucial. There are two paths in VA to receive monthly payments: disability or pension.
Disability applies if you have or can get a disability rating through your local VA clinic which will be able to inform you about 2020 VA Benefits.
It is important to note that there must be a service connection to the injury or disability in question. Also the determination of your rating will be decided by the medical exam performed at a VA clinic or hospital. Ratings are in ten percent intervals. Disability payments for a single Veteran with no dependents start with a rating of 10% ($142.29) and go up to the maximum payment for 100% rating of $3,106.04. Payments at any level 30% or greater may increase with a spouse or dependent children. Disability is not countable income. And since the payments under disability are considered compensation to the Veteran for his or her loss, there is no income or asset limit when applying for disability.
For a Veteran who does not have a service-connected disability, the Aid and Attendance program may help, if the Veteran, Veteran’s spouse or surviving spouse can meet the VA qualifications for service, assets, and sickness level.
The amounts for Aid and Attendance adjust each year if there is an adjustment in the cost-of-living for Social Security benefits. The figures for 2020 are listed below:
- Single Veteran Pension with Aid and Attendance $ 1,911.00
- Veteran with a dependant Aid and Attendance $ 2.266.00
- Two Veterans married Aid and Attendance $ 3,032.00
- Veteran’s Widow Aid and Attendance $ 1,228.00
Asset and income cap for Pension benefit $129,094.00
Service must include at least one day during wartime. In 2018 the VA implemented a “bright line” asset and income cap for making an Aid and Attendance claim. This figure is also adjusted each year. Like disability, Aid and Attendance is not taxable income.
Understanding the qualifications for 2020 VA benefits for making a valid claim for Aid and Attendance is not a simple matter. One example is the asset and income cap. A war-time Veteran may have no more than $129,094.00 in assets and income to make a claim. For a married Veteran the spouse’s income and assets also count into this total. However, some assets (most importantly the home) are exempt from counting into this total. And unreimbursed medical expenses can offset the income of the Veteran and the spouse if there are enough expenses. Sometimes (ideally for an Aid and Attendance claim) income for VA purposes can be reduced to zero. Therefore the claimant can have up to the asset cap in assets only, not including the home and any other exemptions.
Since there is a requirement that the claimant be compromised in 2 or more “activities of daily living” or suffering a severe cognitive impairment which necessitates constant supervision of a caregiver, it is likely that the claimant will have some substantial out of pocket medical expenses. VA defines allowable expenses as private duty caregivers, or the care component of an assisted living facility. Also if the cognitive impairment has made it necessary to move into a memory care facility, usually all of the monthly fee will be deducted against household income.
Due to the complexity of the claims process particularly in trying to obtain 2020 VA Benefits, it is best to contact a VA accredited attorney for assistance in this process. Contact us for more information.