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Reach out to veterans as a good long term care insurance market

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Q. I’m considering marketing to veterans. Is that a viable market and, if yes, how do I reach them?

A. Veterans are definitely a good market to target. By informing the veteran about future VA benefits and whether they can qualify, you are in a position to offer LTCI to offset what the VA doesn’t pay. And, if the veteran is in good health, there is an opportunity to do some really good planning. To provide information on the best way to access this market, I consulted with Joe Solsona, president of the Sunmark Group.

According to Solsona, two approaches have worked well for him. The first is using direct mail, which is generating a 6.6 percent return nationwide if you have a good veteran list. The second is presenting seminars at VFW, American Legions or assisted living facilities. These seminars are for veterans who are not members or residents of these facilities. Average attendance is 120-plus. One agent just had a seminar that drew over 800 attendees and it didn’t cost him a penny.

To locate groups of veterans, Solsona suggests partnering with people who provide additional health care, such as hospitals, social workers, home health care agencies, assisted living facilities, independent living facilities, geriatric groups and hospices. These groups are eagerly seeking an expert who really understands these benefits to talk to veterans on their marketing list.

Many agents are now approaching veterans in assisted living facilities to sell annuities in order for the veteran to qualify for VA benefits. Called “Aid & Attendance,” this is a special pension benefit created by the VA to help veterans pay for care in their home, assisted living facility or nursing home. In order to qualify, the veteran must generally meet certain service and disability requirements and be within specified income and asset limitations.

Like Medicaid, there are asset and income limitations but unlike Medicaid, where there is a five-year look-back for gifting in order to qualify for Medicaid benefits, there is no look-back for “Aid & Attendance.” For those veterans that are already in a facility or need home care, it is possible to gift all those assets that are over the limit into an annuity in the kids’ name.

The veteran or surviving spouse can then qualify for $1,950 month tax-free money. A single veteran could qualify for $1,644 a month and a surviving spouse could qualify for $1,057 per month. Solsona estimates that 20 percent of the veterans in a facility will have sufficient assets for this type of planning to make sense.