If you are a veteran or a surviving spouse of a veteran who has served at least 90 days active duty, with at least one day served during a time of war, you may be eligible for veterans benefits to assist with continuing care in the home, assisted living facility, or in a nursing home. While most benefits programs have strict financial requirements, the Department of Veterans Affairs evaluates each case individually regarding the amount of assets and income a veteran or their spouse may have and still receive benefits. In addition, there must be a medical reason for the veterans (or surviving spouse’s) need for assistance with activities of daily living (such as bathing, dressing, meals, toileting). These benefits come in form of around $1,000-$2,000.
Often, veterans who apply for veterans benefits find that they are ineligible due to their level of income or financial resources. Many attorneys assist those families with asset transfers and planning aimed at getting the veterans eligible for veterans benefits. This type of planning can come at a very high price, however. In fact, it can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It isn’t that attorneys charge thousands of dollars to assist in planning for veterans benefits, it’s that their planning often results in Medicaid eligibility. Many attorneys or advocates that assist veterans in qualifying for veterans benefits know only the rules for veterans benefits, and not the Medicaid eligibility requirements. When they transfer assets, they make sure the transfers are seen as exempt by the Veterans Affairs administration, but those same transfers very often result in penalties under the Medicaid program. In effect, by qualifying to receive around $1,500 per month for skilled nursing assistance in the form of Veterans benefits, you sabotage your ability to acquire Medicaid benefits, which cover all of the costs of skilled nursing care (an average of $7,500 per month in North Carolina). It is often very difficult to qualify for both programs, which makes choosing the program you will plan for critical.
If you are a veteran who may be in need of skilled nursing care, you should speak with an attorney who is knowledgeable in the areas of both veterans benefits and Medicaid benefits. Ask that attorney to help you determine which program would provide you with the benefits best suited to your needs, and how to plan for those benefits.
We can help you with these issues. Call us at 877.503.5337 or visit us on the web at www.nc-law.com.