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Nov. 11 is the day we set aside to honor veterans. In this time of unrest around the world, we are reminded more than ever that it is because of veterans who have made the decision to defend the freedoms of our country that we are free. While we know that our country is not perfect and we have not accomplished freedom and justice for all, this country is worth fighting for. 

We honor veterans for their commitment to submit their lives for the country. They have decided to subject their decision-making authority to the chain of command that prioritizes the needs of these United States. That subjection means that the defense of other countries may be the priority. That subjection may mean that families are left behind. That subjection may mean loss of life or limb. Again, I say thank you for your service. My father, who just celebrated 86 years, and my husband are among my favorite people who have made the decision to serve as veterans. I hear the stories of the impact of the decision to serve and again I am thankful.

As a firm, we continue to be connected to families of veterans who have delayed in establishing estate plans or have outdated plans that no longer address the current needs of their families. There are indeed services and benefits that veterans are afforded but many are not aware of. As previously mentioned, my father who is a veteran is just connecting with the Veterans Administration to register for services. It is a process. The process is not expedient, but the benefit is worth the effort. 

The Veterans Administration provides services for those individuals who have served and are incapacitated. The Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefits program is available for those who qualify. As of December 2018, a single veteran who qualifies for A&A can receive up to $1,881 per month, a married vet can receive up to $2,230 per month and a surviving spouse can receive up to $1,209 per month to pay for needed care at home, in an assisted living community, memory care or in a nursing home. For many families paying for senior care, this income can make the difference between comfort and hardship.

Here are the general guidelines to help you decide whether to apply for Aid and Attendance.

Veterans who served on active duty for at least 90 consecutive days, including at least one full day during a time of war, may be eligible for Aid and Attendance if they also qualify for the basic Veterans Pension and meet the clinical and financial requirements.

Service in a combat zone is not a requirement. Widowed spouses of eligible veterans may also qualify if they meet the clinical and income requirements and have not remarried.

Veterans or surviving spouses must meet at least one of these clinical criteria:

  • Be bedridden except for medical and therapy appointments and treatments
  • Have severe visual impairment (eyesight limited to a corrected 5/200 visual acuity OR less in both eyes OR concentric contraction of the visual field to five degrees or less)
  • Reside in a nursing home because of physical or mental incapacity, including Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • Require help with some activities of daily living (ADLs) such as, but not limited to: bathing, dressing, eating, using the bathroom, etc.

In December 2018, the VA set a clear upper limit for applicants’ net worth of $123,600 not including the applicant’s automobile, personal effects and residence. The VA also implemented a three-year lookback period to see if assets were sold below market value or gifted in a way that reduced net worth below the upper eligibility limit. If so, that may delay (but not necessarily prohibit) the start of VA pension benefit payments.

There’s also an upper limit on monthly countable income minus expenses such as unreimbursed medical bills, prescription out-of-pocket costs and Medicare and private health insurance premiums. The VA pays benefit amounts that make up the difference between recipients’ countable income and the monthly upper limit.

The Life & Legacy Counselors of the Griffin Firm thank all veterans and law enforcement providers for their service and for the month of November will provide a 30% discount on our services.

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