Veterans pension, also known as aid and attendance, is a benefit from the Veterans Administration that provides monthly cash payments to pay for long term care costs. VA pension can be used to pay for a variety of long term care options, including assisted living, independent living, at home care, and nursing homes. Along with showing a medical need for long term care, those applying for VA pension must also meet financial requirements, and asset test and an income test.
To satisfy the income test, the veteran or surviving spouse must have unreimbursed medical expenses in excess of their monthly income. If unreimbursed medical expenses do not exceed monthly, the monthly VA pension will be reduced dollar for dollar for the amount medical expenses are less than income. To satisfy the assets test, the veteran and their surviving spouse can have no more assets than needed to provide for their care. Practically, this means that they can have no more than $30,000 in their name to qualify for pension. Currently, there is no look back period for VA pension. This means that the veteran or surviving spouse can give away assets and then apply for VA pension.
The problems becomes when the veteran or surviving spouse files before they meet the asset test. This causes the application to be denied, and VA rules prevent the refiling of an application for one year. There is bad advice going around the long term care community to file an “intent to file’ to “start the clock” on VVA pension. The problem is that if the veteran or surviving spouse is not qualified for VA pension when the intent to file is sent to the VA,, the applicant will be forced to wait 12 months before reapplying.
As the rules for qualifying for VA pension are complex and the transfer of assets can have implications for Medicaid qualification, it is advisable to seek the advice of an experienced elder law attorney before engaging in such planning.