Elder Law Update – March 2009

Caring for A Veteran at Home

VA Benefits May Cover the Cost

As we discussed in a previous Elder Law Update, the Veteran’s Administration provides a wonderful pension benefit for those individuals who served at least one day during a period of wartime and are not disabled due to non-service connected reasons (aging related issues, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and/or other physical disabilities). This pension, referred to as “Aid and Attendance Allowance”, will pay not only for the long term care provided in a nursing home or assisted living facility, but will also pay for care provided to the veteran in their own home. So, for those veterans and widows (widowers) who are eligible, these benefits will allow family members to be paid for the care they are providing a loved one, so long as certain criteria are being met.

The “Aid and Attendance” (A and A) benefit is available to a veteran who is disabled and requires the aid of another person to perform the personal functions required in everyday living. A veteran can show they are eligible if they have a substantial need for assistance with the activities of daily living. Such activities include bathing, dressing, meal preparation, etc. A veteran would also qualify for this pension if they can show they need the attendance of another person in order to avoid the hazards of his other daily environment. The need for assistance does not have to be permanent.

A family member can provide in-home care for a veteran who is applying for aid and attendance. In order to meet the disability criteria, the care services provided by an unlicensed relative must be prescribed by a health care professional (ex., doctor, RN, LPN or licensed physical therapist) and the professional must consult with the unlicensed relative caregiver at least once a month (in person or by telephone) to monitor the regimen. In addition, there must be a valid care contract in place and the caregiver must be receiving no more than fair market value for services he or she is providing.

Simplified Example: Harry Smith is a 67 year old veteran and, due to his health needs, his doctor has stated he needs assistance with bathing, meal preparation, medication administration and other activities of daily living in order to remain at home. He and his daughter, Jane agrees that she will spend 5 hours a day with Harry, 7 days a week. The fair market value for her services is $12 per hour, and they enter into a contract reflecting those terms.

Harry’s income is $1,800/ month, his medications are $200/month and he is paying his daughter $1,680/month. Rather than deplete his saving of $45,000, he applies for a service pension through the VA. The VA considers the $200/month for medications and the $1,680/month he is paying to his caregiver daughter unreimbursed medical expenses and “subtracts” the amount from his income. In other words, when calculating his pension, the VA considers his income to benegative $80. He applies for benefits and is eligible for $1,520/month to help cover the cost of his prescriptions and care contract!

If you or someone you know is a Veteran receiving care in their home, please encourage them to file a claim for this benefit. It would be prudent to seek the guidance of an experienced elder law attorney who is familiar with veteran’s benefits. An attorney skilled in elder law can provide a veteran and the veteran’s family with pre-filing consultations to determine the appropriate steps that must be taken and to help determine if it would be right to apply for this VA benefit.

P.S. Also, don’t miss our workshop: “The Elder Care Journey – How to Get Benefits Coverage for your Nursing Home Care…Without Selling your Home or Leaving your Family Without a Dime” set for the following dates. Please contact our office at (847) 563-4887 to register.

March 19, 2009 at 6:30 PM

April 8, 2009 at 4:00 PM

April 23, 2009 at 6:30 PM

Call (847) 292 1220 to make a reservation in our training room.

•- You don’t want to miss this workshop!

Long Term Care Planning Attorneys

The “3 Phase” Lawyers

Legal Counsel Assisting You in the 3 Phases of Your Life:

– Maturing Years – Will, Trust, Taxes, and Asset Protection

– Senior Years – Long Term Care and Nursing Home Protection

– Post Death Years – Estate, Probate, and Trust Administration

“Educate to Motivate”

Anthony B. Ferraro

Attorney-CPA

The Law Offices of Anthony B. Ferraro, LLC

The Estate & Trust, Elder and Asset Protection Law Firm

Columbia Centre I

5600 N. River Road, Suite 764

Rosemont, IL 60018

PH (847) 563-4887

FAX (847) 292-1221

Websitehttp://abferrarolaw.com/

Emailabferrarolaw@abferrarolaw.com

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This document is for discussion purposes only and is not intended to be, nor should it be, considered as legal advice. You should never attempt Medicaid planning, Estate Planning, Probate or Trust Administration without the advice of competent legal counsel.