There are several public benefits that can help pay the cost of long term care.  Two of the main benefits are: VA Pension and nursing home Medicaid.  VA pension provides monthly cash payments to veterans and their surviving spouses that can be used for a wide variety of long term care costs.  Nursing home Medicaid covers nursing home costs for those who have a medical need for such care.  Both of these programs have income and asset requirements that may require planning to qualify.  Even after benefits from these programs are awarded, planning may be needed to ensure ongoing benefits.

Both VA Pension and nursing home Medicaid have asset limits that must be met for qualification.  There are several assets that are considered exempt from counting towards qualification.  One example of such exempt assets is the applicant’s personal residence.  The value of a personal residence is fully excluded for VA Pension, and is exempt up to the first $552,000 of equity for nursing home Medicaid.  Planning must be taken when selling an exempt asset, as the proceeds received may not be exempt.  The proceeds may become a countable asset under the programs and disqualify them for benefits.

Another consideration after benefits are awarded is to protect existing assets from recovery.  There is no estate recovery for VA Pension, but there is for nursing home Medicaid.  The Georgia Department of Community Health can see to recover from the estate of someone who received nursing home Medicaid.  This claim, which could exceed $100,000, can be completely avoided or significantly reduced by planning.

After benefits have started, a consultation with an experienced elder law attorney can be useful to ensure benefits continue and estate recovery does not cost thousands.