Qualify for VA Aid and Attendance Benefits with a Trust

HomeBlogEstate PlanningQualify for VA Aid and Attendance Benefits with a Trust

Did you know that veterans who served during wartime may be eligible for a pension benefit to help offset home nursing or assisted care costs or a long-term care facility? This is known as the Aid and Attendance Benefit, and it can provide qualified veterans and their surviving spouses with a monthly check to help cover care costs. If you are a veteran or the surviving spouse of a veteran, it is essential to understand your eligibility for this benefit and how to qualify. An estate planning attorney may help you take advantage of this valuable program.

What is the VA Aid and Attendance Compensation Benefit?

The Aid and Attendance Benefit is a pension benefit available to veterans honorably discharged after at least 90 days of active duty and their surviving spouses. 

To qualify for the benefit, the veteran must have served during wartime. You and a spouse may use the benefit to offset home nursing or assisted care costs or a long-term care facility.

How Much Does the Aid and Attendance Benefit Pay?

The Aid and Attendance Benefit amount depends on the veteran’s income and assets. In 2022, a veteran may receive up to:

  • $3,332 per month for an individual
  • $3,517.84 per month for a couple

How Can I Qualify for the Aid and Attendance Benefit?

You must first meet the eligibility requirements to qualify for the Aid and Attendance Benefit by:

  • Be a veteran honorably discharged after at least 90 days of active duty
  • Be the surviving spouse of a veteran
  • Have served during a wartime period

If you meet these requirements, you can apply for the benefit by submitting a VA Form 21-526EZ to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

You may also need to submit evidence of your service, such as your DD 214 form or discharge papers and provide proof of your income and assets.

Your countable income is how much you earn, including your:

  • Social Security benefits
  • Investment and retirement payments
  • Income your dependents receive

Some expenses, including medical costs not covered by your insurance provider, may reduce your countable income.

How Does the VA Determine MAPR?

Your maximum amount of pension payable (MAPR) comes from these factors:

  • How many dependents you have: Dependents can increase the amount you receive per month, especially if they attend school.
  • If you’re married to another Veteran who qualifies for a pension
  • If your disabilities qualify you for Housebound or Aid and Attendance benefits. Your disability rating determines the amount of your monthly disability check. If your medical condition is getting worse, you may want to check your eligibility for a higher rating.

Until November 30, 2022, the net worth limit to be eligible for Veterans Pension benefits is $138,489. 

However, if you are over the limit, you may still qualify by working with an estate planning attorney to reduce your countable income with a trust. (1)

What if My Income and Assets are Too High?

If you do not meet the Aid and Attendance Benefit eligibility requirements, an estate planning attorney may help you qualify through a special type of trust. This is known as a Veterans Aid and Attendance Qualified Trust. By setting up this type of trust, you may qualify for the benefit even if your income and assets are too high.

If you are a veteran or the surviving spouse of a veteran, it is crucial to understand your eligibility for the Aid and Attendance Benefit. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you navigate the application process and take advantage of this valuable benefit.

How Does a Veterans Aid and Attendance Qualified Trust Work?

A Veterans Aid and Attendance Qualified Trust can help you qualify for the VA Aid and Attendance Compensation. The trust reduces your countable income so that you can meet the eligibility requirements for the benefit.

A trust is a legal framework that holds assets for you, but not in your own name. Instead, a trust has its own name, much like a business. Because the assets no longer belong to you, they do not count against your eligibility for Aid and Attendance benefits.

However, even though the trust assets are no longer yours, they may benefit you in other ways. You may draw up a Veteran’s trust to pay your monthly income or to hold assets like boats or vacation homes. Adding assets to the trust reduces your net worth. 

Set Up a Trust Before It’s Too Late

Setting up this type of trust at least 3 years before you need benefits is essential. The VA has a 3 year look-back period in which they analyze whether you’ve given away or hidden assets in order to qualify. However, if you set up a trust before the 3-year look-back period, your assets will not count against your eligibility.  

An experienced estate planning attorney can help you set up a Veterans Aid and Attendance Qualified Trust. 

Bottom Line

While the VA Aid and Attendance Compensation can be a valuable resource for veterans and their families, it is essential to understand the eligibility requirements and how to apply. An experienced estate planning lawyer may assist you in getting the help you need for long-term care.

We Can Help

Contact us today at Vail Gardner Law to learn more about how a Veteran’s trust works and to plan for your future!