Question: I am an honorably discharged Vietnam era veteran with more than 90 days active duty service. I am 66 and researching long term care insurance for my wife and myself. What do I need to know about VA benefits available to me and how that might affect the insurance coverage I would purchase from a private provider?
Answer: There are many types of benefits available to qualified veterans of the United States military and/or available to the surviving spouses of qualified veterans after they have passed away. Of those many benefits, the two largest benefit programs offered through the United States Department of Veteran’s Affairs (“VA”) are:
(i) Benefits awarded for service-connected disability, formally termed “Compensation” by VA; and
(ii) Benefits awarded for non service-connected disability, formally termed “Pension” VA.
From the description you provided in your question, I will presume you are not currently suffering from a disability connected to your military service. Succinctly, a Pension benefit award is where the VA will pay a certain amount monthly to a qualified veteran as a reimbursement to offset unreimbursed out-of-pocket medical costs. The actual amount of the award is determined by subtracting from the veteran’s total income all recurring unreimbursed qualified medical expenses. Bear in mind, when a veteran is married, VA will account for the total income and expenses of the family together, not just that of the veteran. At times the benefit claimant will often need to present the properly documented opinion of their medical provider to prove to the VA that certain types of medical-related expenses are necessary.
Your question is about how long term care insurance would interact with VA benefits. Ultimately, in a properly prepared and filed VA benefit application, VA should recognize the out of pocket cost of premiums paid for long term care insurance as a recurring medical expense that can be taken into account to offset income. However, when a long term care insurance policy begins paying benefits, it will reduce the total countable recurring medical expenses in the amount of the benefits paid.
In your question, you did not indicate whether you are suffering health difficulties now or if you are healthy but trying to plan for your future in the event you become ill and need long term care. Planning proactively is wise and you are well-advised to consult a capable elder law attorney to help you devise a comprehensive plan to safeguard your family financially and to best ensure you will be well taken care of now and in the future. By proactively planning now you will help ensure that you will be eligible for the maximum benefit possible from the VA.
You can find Elder Law Attorneys near you on ElderCareMatters.com – America’s National Directory of Elder Care / Senior Care Resources.
Hope this helps.
Henry C. Weatherby, Esq., CLU, ChFC, CEBS
Weatherby & Associates
Bloomfield, Connecticut 06002
Premium Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, Connecticut Chapter
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