September 14, 2010

The Financial Gerontologist: A Little Known Veteran’s Benefit

As a former Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves, there is a special place in my heart for our wartime veterans. After all, the reason I have the freedom to write this blog posting, where I will focus on financial gerontology, and do everything else I want to do is because of the sacrifices they made during time of war.

We have recently learned about a little known and underutilized benefit known as the Aid-and-Attendance Benefit. This is a benefit that could help veterans pay for long-term care or assisted living.

The Department of Veteran's Affairs pays a maximum of $1,949 per month to married veterans who qualify. Single veterans and surviving spouses may also be eligible for smaller payments.

In order to qualify, veterans must have served at least 90 days of active military service, including one day during wartime, and have a discharge other than dishonorable from their branch of the military. Veterans are eligible if they served in WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam. For those wartime veterans who entered active duty starting September 8, 1980, the eligibility requirements are a bit stricter. The Veteran must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which called or ordered to active duty. Those in Service from August 2, 1990 to present are also eligible for this benefit.

This is great news for those veterans and their families who may be in need of financial assistance either at home or in assisted living facilities or who require other long term care services. These benefits are tax-free to the recipient.

The income limit for couple's is $23,396 ($19,736 for an individual or $12,681 for a veteran's widow or widower). However, even though this number may sound low, a Veteran may still qualify if their income falls to that level after deducting any unreimbursed medical expenses, education expenses or expenses related to a last illness or burial of a dependent. Total liquid assets may not be more than $80,000 (this figure does not include a residence or automobile).

In addition, there is a requirement regarding the inability to perform the "activities of daily living" (for example bathing, eating dressing, or being bedridden, blind or already living in an assisted living facility or nursing home due to mental or physical disabilities).

Those hoping to qualify can seek out free help through a regional, state or county-level Veterans office or go to www.va.gov. Then click on locations and then click on State Veteran Affairs offices or Regional Benefit offices. You can also email the Department of Veterans Affairs at www.iris.va.gov or call them at 1-877-294-6380.

Please pass this information on to any veteran or family of a veteran that you know...it may just be the information they need to make their life a little easier.

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