On Wednesday, Brandon provided an example of the Pension with Aid and Attendance Benefit at work and the ways you can qualify. Now, we want to provide you with some help in your efforts to take advantage of this benefit.
The Application Process
While the application process for special monthly pension can be agonizingly slow – some applications take over a year before the VA decides – the benefit is retroactive to the month after application submission. Having the proper documentation in place at the time of application (for example, discharge papers, medical evidence, proof of medical expenses, death certificate, marriage certificate, and a properly completed application) can cut the processing time in half.
Veteran’s Asset Protection Trust
If the veteran or spouse exceeds the assets limit, we have planning options to help the veteran still achieve the benefits that they earned. One strategy is a Veterans Asset Protection Trust. A Veterans Asset Protection Trust will be used to qualify a veteran because there is no look back period for the VA Benefit. So, if a veteran or surviving spouse is over in assets, they can create the Trust, then the next month be qualified.
The VA looks at a claimant’s total net worth, life expectancy, income and expenses to determine whether the claimant should qualify for special monthly pension benefits. Unlike Medicaid, there is no look-back period and no penalty for giving assets away. However, one must use caution when considering a gifting strategy to qualify, as this will cause a period of ineligibility for Medicaid which could be as long as five years. Other Medicaid planning strategies may apply when trying to qualify a veteran or surviving spouse for special pension with aid and attendance.
Time is of the essence for veterans or surviving spouses who may be eligible for pension benefits. It is imperative for those who work with veterans or surviving spouses of veterans to be aware of these benefits and to help potential claimants obtain legal help to qualify for pension benefits. If you know of someone who may be eligible, please give us a call.
Written by Brandon Thomson