Suffolk County, NY Veterans' Benefits Blog

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Veterans' Benefits Overview

There are currently over 25 million Veterans, and 9 million surviving spouses of Veterans living in the United States.  Many of these Veteran’s are in need of long term care now or in the near future.  Each year millions of dollars in funding goes unused because seniors are unaware of the benefits that are available to them through the Federal Veterans Administration. 


There are three types of Pension available which provide a monthly cash payment to veterans who have long term health care needs.  The Service Pension provides a monthly cash payment to veterans who meet certain active duty discharge requirements, who are either over 65 and disabled and who have limited income and assets, the disability does not need to be service connected. In addition there is a Housebound Allowance is a pension with a slightly higher monthly payment than the unrated Pension and is available to Veteran’s and surviving spouses who are confined to their home for medical reasons. 


Lastly, Aid and Attendance provides benefits for veterans or their surviving spouses who require the regular attendance of another person to complete activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, dressing and cooking.  This Pension provides the highest monthly benefit.  Care received in an assisted living qualifies as the level of care required to meet the criteria for the Aid and Attendance Pension.  While it is not necessary that the individual applying require assistance with all of the activities listed, he or she will have to provide documentation from a physician that they cannot function completely on their own and therefore, require the aid and attendance of another person to care and protect them from the hazards and dangerous incidents of daily living.  Any war time veteran or his or her spouse is eligible for this benefit so long as the veteran served at least ninety (90) days of active duty before 1980, with at least one (1) of those days served during a declared period of war, or 24 months of continuous duty after 1980, with at least one day served during wartime. 


Because Aid and Attendance is a needs based program, in order to qualify the applicant must also meet certain financial criteria based upon both assets and income.  A married Veteran and spouse should have no more than $80,000.00 in resources; however this is simply a guideline and not resource limit set by the Veteran’s Administration.  The VA will consider the applicants net worth, life expectancy, income and medical expenses to determine eligibility.  The applicant’s un reimbursed medical expenses can reduce his countable income dollar for dollar, qualifying him for benefits.  If a Veteran is deceased his spouse is eligible for Aid and Attendance. 


In closing, these are valuable benefits that should not be overlooked.  However, it is important that planning be done is such a way that it does not disqualify the applicant from Medicaid in the future.  Applying for and receiving these benefits can bridge the gap, and enable a veteran to either stay at home or in an assisted living of their choice when they may otherwise have not been able to. 


By: Nancy Burner, Esq. and Robin Daleo, Esq.

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Burner Law Group, P.C. has offices in Setauket & Westhampton Beach, New York and serves clients throughout Long Island, Nassau County, Suffolk County, and the Hamptons, including Port Jefferson, Centerreach, Saint James, Mount Sinai, Lake Grove, Smithtown, Coram, Farmingville and Nesconset.

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