Featuring guest blogger Nicole Hawks, Associate Attorney with ALERSTALLINGS LLC in Mansfield, OH.

Many veterans mistakenly believe that wartime injuries are required to be entitled to Veterans benefits. Others believe that only Veterans are entitled, not their widows or spouses. These are common misconceptions when it comes to the VA Improved Pension Benefit - Aid and Attendance.

This pension is available to veterans who served during a wartime period or to widows/spouses of those veterans. Several requirements must be met to obtain these benefits. The first is 90 days of active duty with one of those days occurring during a wartime period. Common wartime periods include WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Second, the discharge must be anything except for dishonorable. Third, the veteran or spouse of the veteran must require assistance with activities of daily living. For example, if the person needs help remembering to eat or need some standby assistance with bathing, the medical requirement would be met for the benefit. Last, assets must be properly structured.

Most people entitled to this benefit don’t have a tough time meeting the first few requirements, but they often struggle with the last requirement. Having money should never be a bar to these benefits. Simply put, don’t penalize yourself for working hard and saving money and being told you have too much. With a properly structured, compliant trust, you can still have that savings you worked so hard for and receive these much-deserved VA benefits.

Here’s a simple example. Dad is single and a wartime veteran who needs care at home. His adult daughter comes to help, but her time away from her paying job is financially challenging for her family. Dad can work with a VA-Accredited attorney to put together a plan. Dad can then transfers his assets to his trust and his attorney can put together all of the VA paperwork. Upon approval, dad begins receiving the VA benefits of about $1,800 each month, tax-free for the rest of his life. He can now afford to pay his daughter for her help. Another example is when mom and dad are at an assisted living facility. Dad is a wartime veteran. Between social security and pensions, mom and dad bring in just about $3,000 per month. But the assisted living facility costs $5,000 per month. With proper planning, mom and dad can qualify for the VA benefits which would bring over $2,120 per month, tax-free. Now mom and dad can comfortably afford the care they need. A last example is that of a surviving spouse of a wartime veteran. She needs some assistance at home and with proper planning she would be able to receive over $1,150 per month, tax-free.

The VA Improved Pension Benefit is a wonderful benefit that veterans and their spouses should be receiving when they need it. Working hard and having savings or investments should never preclude our Veterans and their families from receiving what was earned. Make sure to work with an attorney who specializes in VA planning and is accredited with the VA. Sadly, only about 7% of eligible Veterans and their spouses receive this benefit. Call Nicole at (419)775-3977 to help you receive the benefits you deserve.

Posted 12:00 AM

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