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Veterans are our country’s true heroes. They risked their lives fighting for our freedoms, and they should receive benefits for doing so. When our veterans begin aging, they sometimes need additional or long-term care. Thankfully, the Veterans Administration created a program for war-era veterans called the Aid & Attendance Program. Aid & Attendance allows veterans and their spouses to obtain money tax-free in order to help pay for the cost of their care. Careful planning and expert legal advice is paramount in receiving the maximum allowable benefit under the program. Located in West Palm Beach, Florida, the experienced elder law and VA-accredited attorneys at Shalloway & Shalloway know how to plan for and obtain the maximum veterans benefits under the law. Only attorneys accredited with the VA and Veteran Service Organizations can submit a claim for benefits on your behalf.
The amount of benefits allowed under the Aid & Attendance Program varies depending on assets, cost of care, and marital status. Even if you are a surviving spouse of a veteran, you can also be eligible to receive benefits. Unlike Medicaid, there is no “look back” period for the VA. This means that in determining your award, the VA will only look to your assets and income at the time of your application.
In order to be eligible for the program, you or your spouse must:
Have served active duty in the military (any branch) for 90 consecutive days during a wartime period. This does not mean that you had to fight overseas but only that you were active duty during this time period.
Have been honorably or otherwise discharged from the military (anything other than a “dishonorable discharge” qualifies).
Require assistance with the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). ADLs include feeding, dressing, toileting, and many other activities that are performed in our day-to-day lives. Residence in an assisted living facility or skilled nursing facility also qualifies.
Meet the current assets and income requirements.
The assets prong of the Aid & Attendance Program is the most complex portion of the program, and the VA-accredited attorneys at Shalloway & Shalloway, P.A., can provide you with expert legal guidance on these issues. Even if you think you might not qualify due to your income or assets, you should first speak with our law firm about obtaining Veterans Benefits. Many times clients think they will not qualify, but with careful planning and competent legal advice, our clients have been able to obtain their Aid & Attendance benefits.
Many individuals have applied to the VA and were denied. Some are told by the VA or others “don’t bother, you won’t qualify.” Still, others have applied and are approved, but for fewer dollars than may be obtained by corrective planning. Planning first means updating or creating trusts, powers of attorney and other legal documents designed to maximize the VA benefits award.
Although VA Accredited Agents and Veteran Service Organizations can represent an applicant and file a claim, they cannot give legal advice. Applicants often must first create and update legal or estate planning documents before filing a claim to be awarded the maximum cash payment. Only VA Accredited Attorneys can both draft the legal documents often needed to create maximum benefits eligibility and file the claim.
Planning can potentially occur in three colored stages of a claimant’s need: Green, while in good overall health; yellow, at risk of needing home health care or assisted living sooner rather than later; and Red, actually paying for aid at home or residing in an assisted living community or nursing home. Also included in the red zone are claimants whose spouse or children are caring for his or her loved one for free.
The VA permits only Accredited VA Attorneys, Agents, and Veteran Service Organizations to represent a claimant. As a result, there are numerous so-called “VA advisors” and “VA organizations” who are not VA Accredited. One should avoid seeking advice from such individuals and organizations. They claim not to charge the family to file an application. What’s really happening is that the VA rules prohibit any one from charging a claimant fee for applying. Thus, some of these unauthorized persons or organizations will direct the family to file the application for benefits or will fill out the form for the family and have the family file the application directly. Frequently the advisor gets paid from the sale of an annuity or other investment vehicle recommended during the representation which may or may not be appropriate.
The only way to find out if you qualify for the VA’s Aid & Attendance Program is by contacting knowledgeable professionals like the VA-accredited and experienced elder law attorneys at Shalloway & Shalloway, P.A. We proudly serve veterans and their spouses in the West Palm Beach area, Palm Beach County, and throughout Florida. To take the first step in attaining the benefits you deserve, please complete the following questionnaire:
Contact us today to find out how you can qualify.