The Aid & Attendance benefit from the Veterans Administration: Your Guide Part III

We’ve been talking about the Aid & Attendance benefit from the Veterans Administration, who can get it, how, and under what circumstances. You can find Part I by clicking here, and Part II is here. Today we’re going to talk about what we do to help you in this process.

  1. What role do you play/how can you help?

Christina McPherson, and McPherson Law Group, is fairly full-service when it comes to VA benefit planning. We help in two general ways: first with the analysis and financial & legal planning to qualify for the VA aid and attendance benefit, and also with the application itself (which is always at no cost). What that means to you is that if you don’t know where to go or who to ask, we can help. You can start the process with us, even if you don’t know yet if you would qualify.

If you or a loved one is a veteran or surviving spouse who needs care, we can help you to:

  • identify whether you can qualify for the benefit by doing an assessment of your income, assets, and care needs/cost;
  • make adjustments to your financial circumstances to help you to qualify
  • create legal documents to protect and preserve your assets;
  • identify and obtain the information and documents required for the VA aid and attendance application;
  • work with experienced agents to prepare and submit your application (always at no cost);
  • transfer your assets as necessary to implement your financial plan;
  • identify the best assisted living community for you or your loved one(s) (if needed);
  • ensure that any subsequent need for Medi-Cal benefits is protected; and
  • maintain your VA aid and attendance benefit qualification.
  1. Why do you do this? What’s your story?

Like most advocates, advisors and attorneys who do this work, I have my own personal reasons to work with veterans to obtain VA benefits. Click here for “Our Story” for, well, the full story.

  1. How long does all of this take?

Our goal is to help you to prepare and submit a Fully-Developed Claim to the VA that will be adjudicated within 90 days. Realistically, the process does take some time because there are a lot of steps, and many of the processes are outside of our control (for example, if you do not have original discharge papers, we do need to order them, and receiving them can take months in some cases). We tell clients to expect a 6 to 9-month process. Retroactive benefits are available, though, so if you apply in June and do not get approved until December, your first check will be a check for July through November.

  1. I’ll just be denied because I have too much money/income/assets/property: How much can you have to apply and receive the benefit?

Before we answer this, we want to tell you that we do offer a free analysis of your financial circumstances for qualification for VA aid and attendance.  The analysis for qualification for VA aid and attendance is somewhat complex, involving many factors, so we won’t get into too much detail here on how this is calculated. Plus, because we offer a free analysis, we generally prefer to work with you directly rather than spelling out here the many rules and regulations specifically – it’s just too easy to make a mistake if you’re unfamiliar with the requirements. But generally-speaking, to qualify for aid and attendance, the applicant’s income must fall below the maximum set by Congress. Certain expenses (unreimbursed medical expenses/cost of care, Medicare premiums and supplements, for example) can reduce your countable income. There are also looks at the applicant’s assets, though there are no limits specifically set for assets. A home and car are protected, in addition to approximately $80,000 in assets. But if you have more than $80,000 in assets, or less (we generally recommend no more than $20,000), there are again ways to protect and preserve what you have and still obtain the VA benefit. This is one of the ways we help, in addition to assisting veterans and their surviving spouses with the aid and attendance application.

  1. If I transfer my assets, won’t the VA ‘look back’ at what I’ve done and deny the claim/benefit?

No. Currently the VA does not look back at transactions prior to the date of the application (like Medi-Cal does). The VA looks at the assets on hand at the time of application only.

If you’re ready to start talking details, don’t hesitate to reach out to us by phone or email (see “Contact”), or just schedule your free appointment online by using the link to the right.

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