Denver Elder Law Attorney Answers Today’s Question on ElderCareMatters.com about Long Term Care Insurance

How do I choose a long term care insurance policy?

Answer:   Many insurance companies these days are offering long term care insurance policies. You certainly should purchase a policy that is underwritten by a company you trust to stand behind the policy financially. What you should do is research several long term care insurance policies. It is often easiest to work through a reputable broker. Ask around about the policy itself and about the company behind it. Compare different long term care policies. Make sure that the policy qualifies for Colorado’s Long Term Care Insurance Partnership Program. Be an educated consumer. That way, you can choose a policy that offers the coverage options you want from a reputable underwriter and with premiums that are affordable to you.

If you need help in finding Long Term Care Insurance or with other Elder Care Matters, you can find thousands of Elder Care Professionals from across America on ElderCareMatters.com – America’s National Directory of Elder Care / Senior Care Resources for Families.

You can also find Elder Law Attorneys on ElderLawAttorneys.us and Estate Planning Attorneys on EstatePlanningAttorneys.us – 2 additional Directories sponsored exclusively by the national ElderCare Matters Alliance to help families plan for and deal with their Elder Care Matters.

And you can find thousands of elder care / senior care answers to your elder care questions as well as elder care articles to help you plan for and deal with your elder care matters on the following websites:

ElderCareMatters.com/ElderCareAnswers
ElderCareMatters.com/ElderCareArticles

Long Term Care Insurance
John J. Campbell, Esq., CELA
Law Offices of John J. Campbell, P.C.
Denver, Colorado
An ElderCare Matters Partner

My mother is the widow of a veteran, but remarried several years ago. Is she entitled to any VA pension assistance now that she needs assisted living?

My mother is the widow of a veteran, but remarried several years ago. Is she entitled to any VA pension assistance now that she needs assisted living?

Answer:  The VA pension eligibility criteria for surviving spouses include the following:

(1) Can be any age, whereas a veteran applying must be 65 years or older or 100% disabled;
(2) Must have been married to the veteran for at least one year or had a child with the veteran, if married less than one year.
(3) Must have lived with the veteran throughout the marriage and at the time of death (this does not require physically being in the same location because soldiers and sailors are often on duty in distant locations;
(4) AND TYPICALLY NEVER REMARRIED, however there is one rare exception under Title 38, Chapter 1, Part 3, §3.55. If a second marriage took place on or after January 1, 1971 and ended such that the divorce began on or before November 1, 1990 and the surviving spouse is now single, then a surviving spouse previously married to a veteran may qualify.

However, you should speak directly with a VA certified attorney or VSO about other programs your Mother may qualify for, either now or in the future. Be sure to give them details on your Father’s death and military service history. The Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Program (DIC) allows a surviving spouse to keep benefits from the first spouse if married after the age of 57 on or after December 16, 2003. Alternatively, the widow may reapply for benefits if the second marriage ends due to death or divorce. The basic DIC rate for a qualified surviving spouse is $1,154.00, but can be in-creased if the surviving spouse is homebound or in need of Aid and Attendance.

DIC at lower rates is also available for parents of a single veteran who died during service or of a service related connected condition. The definition of parent also includes grandparents and aunts and uncles who actually raised a child, but never formally adopted the deceased veteran. Very few eligible parents know of this program. Certain dependent children might qualify as well.

If you need help with Veterans Benefits Planning or other Elder Care Matters, you can find thousands of Elder Care Professionals from across America on ElderCareMatters.com – America’s National Directory of Elder Care / Senior Care Resources for Families.

You can also find Elder Law Attorneys on ElderLawAttorneys.us and Estate Planning Attorneys on EstatePlanningAttorneys.us – 2 additional Directories sponsored exclusively by the national ElderCare Matters Alliance to help families plan for and deal with their Elder Care Matters.

And you can find thousands of elder care / senior care answers to your elder care questions as well as elder care articles to help you plan for and deal with your elder care matters on the following websites:

ElderCareMatters.com/ElderCareAnswers
ElderCareMatters.com/ElderCareArticles

South Carolina Elder Law Attorney
Linda Farron Knapp, Esq.
Knapp Law Firm, PC
Barnwell, South Carolina
An ElderCare Matters Partner

Will the New York Medicaid program pay for my medical bills? Today’s Q&A on ElderCareMatters.com

Will the New York Medicaid program pay for my medical bills?

Answer:  New York Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that pays for home health aides, therapies, prescription drugs and hospital and physician’s bills.  Persons receiving Home Relief or Aid to Families with Dependent Children are eligible for Medicaid.  Disabled individuals of any age as well as those who are medically needy under the age of 21 or over the age of 65 are eligible for Medicaid benefits so longs as they meet the financial criteria.  Medically needy individuals are those whose assets and income do not meet the cost of necessary medical care.  The New York Medicaid program will pay for their medical bills once they have spent their assets and/or income which exceed the Medicaid financial criteria on medical bills.

If you need help with Medicaid Planning or any other Elder Care matter, you can find thousands of Elder Care Professionals from across America on ElderCareMatters.com – America’s National Directory of Elder Care / Senior Care Resources for Families.

You can also find Elder Law Attorneys on ElderLawAttorneys.us and Estate Planning Attorneys on EstatePlanningAttorneys.us – 2 additional websites sponsored exclusively by the national ElderCare Matters Alliance.

And you can find thousands of elder care / senior care answers to your elder care questions as well as elder care articles to help you plan for and deal with your elder care matters on the following websites:

ElderCareMatters.com/ElderCareAnswers
ElderCareMatters.com/ElderCareArticles

New York Medicaid Attorney
Michael Ettinger, Esq.
Ettinger Law Firm
Albany, New York
An ElderCare Matters Partner

Thoughts about our Long Term Care System As Provided by a Nursing Patient Advocate

May I have your thoughts please about our Long Term Care System?

Answer:  I would like to think that it would make a difference if I escalated my concerns about the long term care that is being provided to one of my clients in a memory care unit (this unit has a ratio of 8 residents to one aide), but I know that it would only further the perception that I am here in my role as a Patient Advocate only to point out the flaws of our long term care system.

My role as a Nursing Patient Advocate is to advocate for what is right for the patient, and it seems to me that this should be the role of everyone involved in our long term care system, as we drain the retirement accounts of thousands of elderly people and tell them how great these places are and that we truly care about them.

I consistently question staff about why my client’s nails are dirty, why their hair is not combed, and why their clothing is not clean; and I consistently get from the staff that the unit is short staffed, there are no replacements available, and that their staffing assignments have changed.  Notoriously, I hear from the staff that it is the fault of the residents themselves because they are uncooperative.  Of course they are!!! they have dementia!!! – that’s why they are in the long term care system in the first place.

YOU (our long term care system) are telling everyone that you are the experts, yet I consistently have to navigate how to manage a resident with dementia. I’m at a loss of how you can collect upwards of $7000 to $8000 a month or more and still suggest to the family that they consider enrolling their loved one in a program that will provide “one to one” care for as many hours as they want for an additional $18.00/hour. REALLY!!! In order to get attention for our most vulnerable population that are in what is expected to be a unit with expertise in long term care you want families to pay even more to get time with someone to care for them.

After spending three days challenging why a 91 year old client of mind was not moved out of her bed for 6 days because it was a holiday week and now she is so debilitated due to the lack of moving that she is now going home with hospice; I just can’t believe that there are so many people in our long term care system who just don’t get it and do not see what I see.

If you need help with Dementia Care or any other Elder Care matter, you can find thousands of Elder Care Professionals from across America on ElderCareMatters.com – America’s National Directory of Elder Care / Senior Care Resources for Families.

You can also find Elder Law Attorneys on ElderLawAttorneys.us and Estate Planning Attorneys on EstatePlanningAttorneys.us – 2 additional websites sponsored exclusively by the national ElderCare Matters Alliance.

And you can find thousands of elder care / senior care answers to your elder care questions as well as elder care articles to help you plan for and deal with your elder care matters on the following websites:

ElderCareMatters.com/ElderCareAnswers
ElderCareMatters.com/ElderCareArticles

dementia care
Sharon Gauthier, MSN/BSN/RN/CCM
Patient Advocate for You, LLC
Avon, Connecticut
An ElderCare Matters Partner

New York Elder Law Attorney Answers Today’s Question on ElderCareMatters.com about Estate Planning

I am of modest means. Is it necessary for me to do some estate planning?

Answer:   The knowledge that we will eventually die is one of the things that seems to distinguish humans from other living beings. At the same time, no one likes to dwell on the prospect of his or her own death. But if you postpone estate planning until it is too late, you run the risk that your intended beneficiaries — those you love the most — may not receive what you would want them to receive whether due to extra administration costs, unnecessary taxes or squabbling among your heirs.

This is why estate planning is so important, no matter how small your estate may be. It allows you, while you are still living, to ensure that your property will go to the people you want, in the way you want, and when you want. It permits you to save as much as possible on taxes, court costs and attorneys’ fees; and it affords the comfort that your loved ones can mourn your loss without being simultaneously burdened with unnecessary red tape and financial confusion.

All estate plans should include, at minimum, two important estate planning instruments: a durable power of attorney and a will. The first is for managing your property during your life, in case you are ever unable to do so yourself. The second is for the management and distribution of your property after death. In addition, more and more, Americans also are using revocable (or “living”) trusts to avoid probate and to manage their estates both during their lives and after they’re gone.

If you need help with Estate Planning or any other Elder Care matter, you can find thousands of Elder Care Professionals from across America on ElderCareMatters.com – America’s National Directory of Elder Care / Senior Care Resources for Families.

You can also find Elder Law Attorneys on ElderLawAttorneys.us and Estate Planning Attorneys on EstatePlanningAttorneys.us – 2 additional websites sponsored exclusively by the national ElderCare Matters Alliance.

And you can find thousands of elder care / senior care answers to your elder care questions as well as elder care articles to help you plan for and deal with your elder care matters on the following websites:

ElderCareMatters.com/ElderCareAnswers
ElderCareMatters.com/ElderCareArticles

Estate Planning
Marie A. Corliss, Esq.
Corliss Law Group
Cortlandt Manor, New York
An ElderCare Matters Partner

Impact of the Affordable Care Act on your 2014 Federal Income Tax Returns

Would you please provide us with some information about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how it will impact the preparation of our 2014 Federal Income Tax Returns, which are due on April 15, 2015?

Answer:  This upcoming year (2015) will be the first year that ALL taxpayers will feel the effects of the Affordable Care Act. That’s because starting with returns that are due on April 15, 2015 (which cover the year 2014 — the IRS and many others refer to this as “Tax Year 2014″ or TY2014) … tax returns are now required to report on health insurance coverage status.

This is whether you enrolled in health insurance (or not), and whether you used an ACA plan through the various state and federal marketplaces — or not. It’s for ALL taxpayers.

You are required to show that you have had insurance starting on January 1, 2014 in order to avoid the penalty — and that you were without insurance for less than 3 months during 2014, if you are to avoid penalties.

Future penalties are scheduled to increase, so although for some taxpayers it may seem like a decent tradeoff to just pay the penalty for this year, it becomes increasingly costly to do so in the future.

Second, premium tax credits will be evaluated and adjusted according to information submitted on your tax returns.

This means that if you are 1) currently receiving a tax credit (provided directly to your health insurance provider as payments towards your premium — and offered only to eligible individuals and families without access to employer-sponsored coverage, and who purchase insurance through a marketplace) and 2) your income or household size has changed since you were granted the credit, then your tax refund or obligation may be affected.

If you received this premium tax credit, you will be receiving forms 1095 in the mail. KEEP THESE FORMS. You will need them for the tax return process.

Sadly, the issuance of these forms is optional for some entities, so it can be a complicated issue to make sure you have all of them. Which leads me to my last point…

Please, for the love of all that is good and holy, do NOT go it alone this year when preparing your tax returns. I understand that this exhortation may fall on deaf ears to you, as there is clearly a measure of “self-interest” in my saying this to you. But please understand, whether you use MY services or someone else’s — I will be much happier to hear that you had an experienced professional by your side than that you relied upon the notoriously unreliable algorithms of tax softwares. All of the different factors that are coming into play on this year’s tax return are creating a perfect storm for the software companies, and, well … let’s just say that this is probably not the year to “give them a shot.”

If you need help with this or any other Elder Care matter, you can find thousands of Elder Care Professionals from across America on ElderCareMatters.com – America’s National Directory of Elder Care / Senior Care Resources for Families.

You can also find Elder Law Attorneys on ElderLawAttorneys.us and Estate Planning Attorneys on EstatePlanningAttorneys.us – 2 additional websites sponsored exclusively by the national ElderCare Matters Alliance.

And you can find thousands of elder care / senior care answers to your elder care questions as well as elder care articles to help you plan for and deal with your elder care matters on the following websites:

ElderCareMatters.com/ElderCareAnswers
ElderCareMatters.com/ElderCareArticles

Elder Care / Senior Care Professional
E. Dennis Bridges, CPA
E. Dennis Bridges, CPA
Atlanta, Georgia
An ElderCare Matters Partner

New York Elder Law Attorney Answers Today’s Question about Moving into a Retirement Community

What are some things that should be considered BEFORE moving into a retirement community?  (Answered by Stephen J. Silverberg, Esq, CELA, New York Elder Law Attorney)

Answer:  The brochures and websites are lovely – a healthy senior couple, white hair perfectly in place, wearing sporty clothing and (take your pick) – playing tennis, swimming or taking dance lessons in a sun-filled ballroom. However, before you sell a house and move to a retirement community, there are many questions to ask, and often, some hard choices to consider.

First, what kind of community do you need now, and what kind of community will you need soon, or the distant future? A healthy couple right now may want to live in 55+ only “lifestyle” community, thinking they will escape the screaming kids next door or the accountant across the street with a mid-life crisis and his and her Harleys. However, when one or both of you experiences a health challenge, will you be near your doctors, or any health care facility? Remember that the over 55 age requirement limits the pool of potential buyers the property is placed on the market.

Next, what if you need on-site health care? There may not be a doctor or even an EMT on premises, unless you are in a continuum of care community, which provides lifestyles from independent living to hospice care and all the stages in between. If there is no care on site, the local fire and rescue department may be your emergency medical team. If there is no hospital nearby, what will happen when time is a life or death factor in a health crisis?

Is the retirement community adequately staffed; do staff members appear happy and friendly? We recently walked through a building in a large community and were greeted with a smile by every single member of a well-trained and large staff population. After you go on the tour, take a walk on your own. Do you see staffers interacting with residents? Are they smiling? Ask what their staff retention rates are. The sales team may not know, so you must dig a little deeper, but it will be important information. A well-trained staff is almost always a sign of a well-run facility.

What does the physical property look like, once you get past the warm and cozy lobby? Are hallways well lit, entrances clear of any clutter, is signage for various activity centers clean and updated? We are a stickler for clean and brightly lit hallways, smart touches like small tables and chairs easy to get in and out of near the elevators and little shelves near the doors of apartments to hold packages or a handbag while finding a key. If the hallways are dark and dreary when you take a tour, we suggest exiting quickly. It is not likely to improve.

Do you understand the costs and charges, and are you prepared for increases as they come along? When you or an elderly parent is in a hurry to move in, there is a tendency to gloss over the fine print. Anticipate changing circumstances, increases in costs and fees and the need for additional services. What is the cost if you need a home care aide for short or long term? Will you be required to work with an agency that has a relationship to the facility, or can you select your caregivers? How much flexibility is there in the contract?

Can the facility send you or your loved one packing? If a resident becomes ill and the level of medical care they need exceeds what the community can offer, will they have to leave? Sometimes there are personality clashes with neighbors – could social problems cause a member to be asked to leave? Is there a means of appealing that decision? Moreover, if the real estate market is depressed, will the facility make up for any losses when the sale is due to a forced sale?

Finally, make sure it is clear on who is responsible for payments. An adult child who signs as a guarantor will be financially responsible if the parent cannot make payments. Read the fine print, and consider taking the contract to your Elder Law Attorney for a detailed review to ensure that all parties understand their responsibilities, at the time that the contract is being signed, and in years to come.

Like any other large life-changing decision, speak with family and friends, do your research and don’t be afraid to ask hard questions before choosing a retirement community.

If you need help with Elder Law or any other Elder Care matter, you can find thousands of Elder Care Professionals from across America on ElderCareMatters.com – America’s National Directory of Elder Care / Senior Care Resources for Families.

You can also find Elder Law Attorneys on ElderLawAttorneys.us and Estate Planning Attorneys on EstatePlanningAttorneys.us – 2 additional websites sponsored exclusively by the national ElderCare Matters Alliance.

And you can find thousands of elder care / senior care answers to your elder care questions as well as elder care articles to help you plan for and deal with your elder care matters on the following websites:

ElderCareMatters.com/ElderCareAnswers
ElderCareMatters.com/ElderCareArticles

New York Elder Law Attorney
Stephen J. Silverberg, Esq., CELA
Law Office of Stephen J. Silverberg
Roslyn Heights, New York
An ElderCare Matters Partner

Who funds most of the long term care in America?

Question:  I don’t think most Americans understand who currently pays the most for long term care – it’s not Medicare, it’s Medicaid! Is this correct?

Answer:  Americans have little idea how long-term supports and services are paid for, according to a new poll by Harris Interactive HPOL +0.26% and the medical publishers HealthDay. Yet, they are worried about the cost, believe most people should buy long-term care insurance, and also favor a new government program to pay some or all of the costs of LTC.

This poll shows the public’s confusion with long term care and who actually pays for it. Just as important, despite perceived vast political disagreements on so many things, it is interesting how similar Republicans and Democrats are on their thoughts (and misconceptions) about long term care.

For instance, although Medicaid pays for as much as 60 percent of long-term care costs, only about one in five of those surveyed believe the program is the major payer of these services. One-third think Medicare is the biggest payor, though the program pays for almost no LTC costs. Half think individuals pay the most. In reality, families pay only about one-fifth of the cost of paid services, though of course they do provide the vast bulk of uncompensated care.

When asked who should pay these costs, 29 percent said individuals and their families while 27 percent said the federal government. Interestingly only 9 percent thought state and local governments should pay even though states are already a major payer through their share of Medicaid. Fully one-third said they don’t know who should pay.

Republicans were much more likely to say paying for long-term care should be primarily a family responsibility while more Democrats and independents felt government should play some role. Still, only about half of self-identified Republicans said LTC should be primarily an individual responsibility while nearly one-third were not sure.

Only one-third of Democrats said government should pay most LTC costs while 20 percent said it should be a family responsibility. Another third of Democrats, like Republicans, were not sure who should take on this role.

Two-thirds of all respondents felt “most people” should buy long-term care insurance. Unfortunately, the survey did not ask people if they wanted to buy this insurance themselves. Also, the study did not seem to discuss or identify the costs of long term care insurance options or see how people responded to this question when presented with the cost of long term care insurance.

Regardless of political affiliation, respondents overwhelmingly favored a tax break to subsidize the cost of long-term care insurance. More than 80 percent of Democrats and Republicans supported this idea, possibly unaware that such incentives already exist.

The survey also asked if people were worried about the cost of long-term supports and services. Overall, 68 percent said they were very or somewhat worried. Women more much more likely to be concerned than men by 74 percent to 61 percent. By age, those least likely to be concerned were 18-24 (not surprising) and those 65 and older (very surprising). Those most likely to worry were aged 40-49.

The Harris HRS -0.2% survey, of 2,028 adults, was taken in September of 2013.

Most surprisingly, nearly 70 percent of respondents favored a new government program to pay at least some long-term care costs. Half of Republicans, 80 percent of Democrats, and 68 percent of Independents supported this model. This is extraordinarily interesting to me since if you listened to the news and the opponents of the Affordable Care Act, most Americans are against being forced to purchase insurance to spread the risk so the cost of care is lower for all. Isn’t this (albeit imperfectly) what the Affordable Care Act is intended to do. In Pennsylvania and many other states we are forced to purchase car insurance for the benefit of others. While personal freedom is one of the best things about this country, if people are truly educated where certain services are best purchased by everyone to keep the costs lower and spread the risk. That is the most basic concept of insurance. So maybe, just maybe, if people really understood how the spreading of risk works, maybe there are certain types of insurance that we can agree that everyone must have to lower the costs for all.

Americans recognize that long-term supports and services are a major financial risk, yet they are deeply uncertain about how long-term care is paid for today and what to do about it. And they seem open to some sort of new government program to help, perhaps one that is insurance-based in some way. The only question really is can the private market or the government come up with a plan that spreads the risk.

If you need help with Elder Law, Estate Planning, or any other Elder Care legal matter, you can find thousands of Elder Law Attorneys and Estate Planning Attorneys from across America on ElderCareMatters.com – America’s National Directory of Elder Care / Senior Care Resources for Families.

You can also find Elder Law Attorneys on ElderLawAttorneys.us and Estate Planning Attorneys on EstatePlanningAttorneys.us – 2 additional websites sponsored exclusively by the national ElderCare Matters Alliance.

And you can find thousands of elder care / senior care answers to your elder care questions as well as elder care articles to help you plan for and deal with your elder care matters on the following websites:

ElderCareMatters.com/ElderCareAnswers
ElderCareMatters.com/ElderCareArticles

Pennslyvania Elder Law Attorney
Robert M. Slutsky, Esq.
Robert Slutsky Associates
Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania
An ElderCare Matters Partner

What happens when a Power of Attorney (POA) acts improperly?

What happens when a Power of Attorney (POA) acts improperly?

Answer:  A person appoints a power of attorney (POA) to make decisions for himself or herself – usually a spouse, parent, or adult child — for a variety of reasons. Most commonly, people create POA’s to be prepared if tragedy strikes, such as a car accident, or the mental decline that often comes along with aging. Without a proper POA in place, a family of someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, for example, would need to go to court to obtain guardianship or conservatorship to be able to protect and make decisions for the person no longer able to do so.

When someone grants POA to another individual, it gives great power but also great responsibility. Unfortunately, some people who are granted the power of a POA are dishonest and may sometimes take advantage of the power for their own selfish interests. They may take money from a bank account, retitle investments, sell real estate or an automobile to a family member at far less than fair value, or even cause changes to a will, trust, or beneficiary designation in a life insurance policy. Some POAs even begin writing checks from the person’s account to pay their own bills. All of these can give rise to breach of fiduciary duty claims, which can lead to civil – and sometimes even criminal – remedies.

What do you do if you suspect someone has abused the authority given to him or her as a POA? The first step is to consult with an experienced probate litigation or elder law attorney to learn what rights and options you have.

Legal Actions That Can Be Taken Against a Dishonest POA

Generally, there are two different types of legal actions that can be taken to try to undo the damage caused by a dishonest POA. If the person who created the POA is still alive, then typically a guardianship or conservatorship proceeding is needed to appoint a proper decision-maker. Then a claim can be filed through that legal proceeding, or at times, a separate lawsuit, to recover the assets that were wrongfully taken, transferred away, or spent.

Just because a POA is already in place does not mean you cannot obtain guardianship or conservatorship. The probate court is there to protect vulnerable adults, as well as those who have passed away, and judges do remove legal authority from POAs who act improperly.

The second course of action is available if the person who was taken advantage of is no longer alive. Then, it is necessary to raise a breach of fiduciary claim in the name of the deceased person’s estate – through the personal representative (which is what executors are called in Michigan), or in a related court petition in probate court.

Many people mistakenly assume that a person holding the POA automatically becomes the estate administrator after death. That is not the case; rather the will governs who controls the estate — or the probate judge selects someone if there is no valid will. Even when the person who abused a POA in turns becomes the executor, a breach of fiduciary duty claim can still be filed against that person, if properly asserted in probate court.

What to Do If a POA Acts Improperly

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being concerned of POA abuse – or if someone is wrongly accusing you of committing it – it’s critical to work with the right Michigan power of attorney lawyer, as soon as possible. While many lawyers say they can handle cases of this nature, this area of law is very specialized. Working with a good attorney who really knows, and has handled, cases involving POA abuse and fiduciary duty breaches can make the difference between winning and losing.

If you need help with Elder Law, Estate Planning, or any other Elder Care legal matter, you can find thousands of Elder Law Attorneys and Estate Planning Attorneys from across America on ElderCareMatters.com – America’s National Directory of Elder Care / Senior Care Resources for Families.

You can also find Elder Law Attorneys on ElderLawAttorneys.us and Estate Planning Attorneys on EstatePlanningAttorneys.us – 2 additional websites sponsored exclusively by the national ElderCare Matters Alliance.

And you can find thousands of elder care / senior care answers to your elder care questions as well as elder care articles to help you plan for and deal with your elder care matters on the following websites:

ElderCareMatters.com/ElderCareAnswers
ElderCareMatters.com/ElderCareArticles

Power of Attorney (POA)
Don L. Rosenberg, Attorney and Counselor
The Center for Elder Law
Troy, Michigan
An ElderCare Matters Partner

What kind of planning is needed to qualify for Veterans Benefits?

What kind of planning is needed to qualify for Veterans Benefits?

Answer:  One of the benefits of serving in the military is the potential ability to collect retirement benefits from the Veterans Administration (VA). These types of veterans benefits could help many Californians. Though not available to all veterans, according to the VA, there are 1,053,964 veterans older than 60 living in California.

A VA pension, known as non-service connect pension, is paid to wartime veterans and certain dependents. This is a means-based benefit with the following requirements:

• The veteran must be 65 or older or permanently and totally disabled (not due to his or her own willful misconduct). There is no age requirement for a surviving spouse to qualify for widow’s pension.

• The veteran’s discharge must be other than dishonorable.

• For those who entered active duty before September 7, 1980, the veteran must have served at least 90 days of active military service. One of those days must have been during wartime.

• The veteran’s net worth cannot be “excessive.”

• The countable family income must be below a yearly limit.

The last two present opportunities for us to help veterans and/or their spouses. Normally irrevocable trusts can be used to reduce a veteran’s net worth to qualify for pension benefits. Unlike Medicaid, which has a five year “look back” period when considering the assets of a person applying for benefits, the VA currently does not impose a penalty for the transfer of assets if it was done prior to the filing of a formal claim, or notifying the VA of the intent to file a claim.

Many veterans have irrevocable trusts created to hold assets gifted by a veteran claimant or surviving spouse to reduce their net worth to qualify for benefits. To satisfy the VA, these trusts must meet certain limitations and requirements. This is a highly technical area that is subject to change, so if you are interested in obtaining these benefits, you need the services of an attorney experienced in creating planning documents that comply with the applicable laws, regulations and VA rules.

If you need help with Veterans Benefits Planning, Elder Law, Estate Planning, or any other Elder Care Matter, you can find thousands of VA Accredited Attorneys, Elder Law Attorneys and Estate Planning Attorneys from across America on ElderCareMatters.com – America’s National Directory of Elder Care / Senior Care Resources for Families.

You can also find Elder Law Attorneys on ElderLawAttorneys.us and Estate Planning Attorneys on EstatePlanningAttorneys.us – 2 additional websites sponsored exclusively by the national ElderCare Matters Alliance.

And you can find thousands of elder care / senior care answers to your elder care questions as well as elder care articles to help you plan for and deal with your elder care matters on the following websites:

ElderCareMatters.com/ElderCareAnswers
ElderCareMatters.com/ElderCareArticles

Veterans Benefits Planning
Brian Chew, Esq.
OC Wills & Trust Attorneys
Irvine, California
An ElderCare Matters Partner