Aid and Attendance is a little known Veterans Administration benefit that is available to veterans or their surviving spouses who are at least sixty-five years of age to assist them with the cost of in-home care, assisted living, and nursing home care. Aid and Attendance is perhaps most beneficial for veterans and surviving spouses in need of in-home care or assisted living since no other government program covers such care.
Meeting the asset test for the Aid and Attendance benefit has been relatively easy since the rules do not require a look-back for gifts. That may change beginning in 2016! Proposed HR 2189 Sec. 202 (subsequent to HR 2341) would impose a 36-month look back and penalty period for transfers made by individuals applying for Aid and Attendance benefits. While previous versions of the bill have failed, the word is that the current proposed bill is likely to pass.
Under the new bill, gifts within three years of application create a period of ineligibility. Calculated much like the existing Medicaid ineligibility period for gifts made within five years, the new VA ineligibility period is calculated by dividing the gifted amount by the applicable monthly benefit (currently $2,085 per month for a married veteran, $1,758 for a single veteran, and $1,130 per month for a surviving spouse of a veteran). The method of calculation results in shorter penalty period for married vets than for surviving spouses for the same transfer amount (due to the fact that the divider is higher). The new rules would include the ability to cure transfers within the three-year look back period if a satisfactory showing is made that all resources disposed of have been returned to the individual who disposed of the resources. There is also a hardship provision: A claimant will not be denied benefits if it is determined that the denial would work an undue hardship as determined based on criteria to be determined.
Effective Date: The new law takes effect on the date that is one year after the date of enactment of the Act and applies to pension application after the date- no reduction of pension for those veterans who disposed of resources prior to effective date (grandfathered in) unless there is a change in circumstances and eligibility is re-determined (for example, moving facilities).
Action Required: Please contact us if you or your spouse is a Veteran and you are contemplating either in-home care or a move to assisted living.