Expert Veteran Adviser Shows How To Qualify for Special Benefit

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29 January, 2019 By Wendy McHaney

For a veteran to qualify for Aid & Attendance, as a general rule his/her household assets cannot exceed $80,000 ($40,000 if single), and this figure does not include a personal residence, a reasonable amount of land on which it sits, personal property and personal use automobiles.


Many otherwise eligible veterans don't apply for Aid & Attendance benefits believing they can't qualify. However, an estate planning tool - an irrevocable trust - can allow a veteran or his spouse to transfer assets so they can fall within the household asset requirement.


An irrevocable trust is a type of trust that by design can't be modified, amended, changed or revoked. It is used to achieve a variety of estate planning goals by removing property from the trustmaker's estate and providing asset protection for surviving spouses, descendants, and other beneficiaries.


The VA Aid & Attendance benefit does not have a long "look back" period, unlike Medicaid, which has a look back period of five years. What this means is that the period that the VA takes into consideration for any assets transferred into a trust prior to submitting an application for benefits is very short, unlike Medicaid which, in determining eligibility, takes into account any assets transferred within the last five years.


The trust is a separate entity with a separate tax ID number from the person putting the assets into the trust. A trustee is designated to manage the trust, as is a beneficiary of the trust. The beneficiary can be the person who is transferring assets, so the veteran or the spouse can be the beneficiary of the trust, although they should not be a trustee of the trust.


One aspect that can be included in the trust is special needs language. This language allows the trust to supplement any government benefits that the beneficiary may be receiving or could be eligible for, such as VA benefits, without disqualifying the beneficiary from the government benefits just because they are the beneficiary of a trust.


For example, a veteran may be receiving monthly Aid & Attendance benefits that cover 12 hours per week of home care. But the veteran may really need 40 hours per week of home care. The special needs language in the trust allows the beneficiary (the veteran) to withdraw enough money from the trust each month to cover the additional hours of care.

Written by

Wendy McHaney

Wendy McHaney, is a certified senior adviser who specializes in helping veterans and dependents gain access to benefits and compensation. Contact Wendy at Senior Helpers by calling 361-894-8901