By Hook Law Center
Veterans who need long-term care services like in-home care or residence in a nursing home can receive financial assistance through the Veterans Administration (VA) pension benefit Aid and Attendance. This often-overlooked benefit provides money to veterans who need help with day-to-day tasks.
The pension is designed for veterans and surviving spouses who require help to perform activities of daily living (ADLs), such as dressing, eating, bathing or going to the bathroom. Individuals who are blind or live in a nursing home qualify for the pension.
Aid and Attendance is available to veterans who served for at least 90 days, with at least one of those days occurring during wartime, and to their surviving spouses. The disabilities do not need to be service-related.
To quality, the veteran or surviving spouse must own less than $80,000 in assets, with home and vehicle not included in this calculation. His or her income must also be lower than the Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR), which is currently set at $21,107 for a single veteran. The income calculation does not include welfare benefits, unreimbursed medical expenses that have been paid or Supplemental Security Income.
Even veterans who have an income too high to qualify for a VA pension may qualify for the Aid and Attendance pension, so long as they have high medical costs that are not otherwise reimbursed.
The VA pays the difference between the veteran’s income and the MAPR, so the amount that a person receives from Aid and Attendance depends on his or her income.
By Hook Law Center
Older adults who do not have children do not have the built-in support system from which many people with children benefit, which puts them at risk if they become ill or injured. In order to ensure they receive good care that is in alignment with their wishes, these individuals should designate a caregiver while they are still healthy.
This is especially important today, when the number of childless Americans is higher than in the past. In 2010, nearly 19 percent of women ages 40 to 44 had not given birth, compared with about 10 percent in 1980.
A healthcare power of attorney allows a person to appoint someone trusted, whether natural child or friend, to make medical decisions on his or her behalf in case the person is incapacitated. This can be combined with a financial power of attorney, which appoints a trusted individual to handle a person’s finances. Without these documents, it can take time for the court to appoint a guardian. The guardian may not be someone the individual even knows.
In addition to designating a caregiver, it is important for childless older adults to use these documents to make their wishes clear. For example, some people prefer to receive in-home care, while others would like to move to an assisted living facility if long-term care became necessary.
Many childless adults appoint their partners or siblings as their health care agents. However, this carries some risk if the other person is close in age. It is best to also appoint a backup caregiver as well, such as a niece, nephew or friend. It is essential to discuss these issues with the person appointed.
If there is no one available to serve as a healthcare agent, a bank or other company with a trustee department can be employed to make the arrangements.