Carolyn Butler Norton Elder Law Attorney, Guardianship, Wills, Estate Planning, Estates and Trusts
Carolyn Butler Norton Elder Law Attorney, Guardianship, Wills, Estate Planning, Estates and TrustsCarolyn Butler Norton Elder Law Attorney, Guardianship, Wills, Estate Planning, Estates and Trusts

Planning, Preserving & Protecting the Rights and Assets of Seniors

Florida Veterans Pension Program

The Veterans Administration’s Non-Service Connected (NSC) Pension consists of three tiers:

  • Basic Pension
  • Homebound – cannot leave home without assistance, and
  • Aid and Attendance – needs assistance with activities of daily living.

The veteran must have served at least 90 days of active service, with at least one day of service during a wartime period (two years of active duty if you enlisted after September 7, 1980):

  • WW II  December 7, 1941 thru December 31, 1946
  • Korean Conflict  June 27, 1950 thru January 31, 1955
  • Vietnam Era  February 28, 1961 thru May 7, 1975 (if served in Vietnam), August 5, 1964 thru May 7, 1975 in all other cases
  • Persian Gulf War/War on Terror (Iraq & Afghanistan)  August 2, 1990 thru date to be prescribed by Presidential proclamation or law.

The veteran must have received a discharge that is other than dishonorable.

The veteran must have “Medical Need”, a permanent and total disability, not caused by willful misconduct of the claimant. Once a veteran reaches the age of 65, the VA considers and classifies the veteran as permanently and totally disabled for purposes of qualifying for the Basic Pension, regardless of his or her physical fitness. A surviving spouse need not be 65 years old to qualify for the NSC Pension.

In addition to the Basic Pension, a veteran might also qualify for the Housebound benefit or for the Aid and Attendance (A&A) benefit, but not for both. For the Housebound benefit, the veteran must have a single permanent disability evaluated as 100 percent disabling, AND due to such disability, he or she is permanently and substantially confined to his or her immediate premises, OR the veteran must have a single permanent disability evaluated as 100 percent disabling AND another disability, or disabilities, evaluated as 60 percent or more disabling.

The V A’s Aid & Attendance (A&A) benefit is available to a war-time veteran or surviving spouse who needs assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, feeding, dressing, ambulation, toileting, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting him or herself from the hazards of his or her daily environment, OR the veteran is bedridden, in that the disability or disabilities require the veteran remain in bed, OR the veteran is a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity, OR the veteran is blind, or nearly blind. The assistance required by the veteran can be provided in the veteran’s home, a retirement care facility, an independent living facility, or an assisted living facility.

There are also family income and asset limits that must be met in order to qualify for each tier of the non-service connected pension.

For Aid and Attendance (A&A), there are no written limits on the net worth of the veteran and spouse; however, the unwritten standard has generally been $80,000.00 or less, adjusted by the life expectancy of the veteran or surviving spouse. In January 2015, the Department of Veterans Affairs proposed a rule which would set the asset limit at $119,220.00, which is the curent figure for the maximum spousal resource allownace under Medicaid rules. The public will have the opportunity to comment on this proposed rule. Note that in Florida the Homestead property, an automobile, and a pre-paid burial plot are considered exempt assets and do not count as part of the net worth.

As of December 31, 2016, a single veteran’s monthly income must not exceed $1794.00, while a married veteran with no dependent children cannot exceed $2127.00 a month.  The widow of a veteran must not exceed $1153.00 a month in income in order to qualify. 

However, unreimbursed medical expenses (UMEs) for the veteran and his spouse that exceed 5% of the Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR) for the base pension are deducted to reduce their monthly income. Unreimbursed medical expenses include Medicare premiums, secondary medical insurance premiums, sitter/caregiver expenses, the cost of assisted living facilities or nursing homes, and out-of-pocket costs for medical care, prescriptions and medical equipment. The UMEs are subtracted from income to determine the monthly benefit amount.

As of December 31, 2016, a married veteran can receive up to $2,127.00 a month in Aid & Attendance pension benefits. A single veteran can receive up to $1,794.00 a month, and a surviving spouse up to $1,153.00 a month. This is a tax free benefit. The Aid and Attendance is not considered income for Medicaid eligibility purposes if the veteran has a spouse or dependent child.

A single veteran receiving Medicaid may have his Aid and Attendance benefit reduced to $90.00 a month. If, however, he has a spouse, there are calculations to determine the benefit amount.

Unlike Medicaid, there is currently no look-back period, nor is there a penalty for transferring assets to a child or other trusted person in order to qualify. However, the rule proposed by the Department of Veterans Affairs calls for a 36 month lookback period for uncompensated transfers, as well as up to ten years of ineligibility for benefits.

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Vero Beach Elder Law Attorney
Carolyn Butler Norton Esquire, LLC
2770 Indian River Blvd., Suite 309
Vero Beach, FL 32960
Phone: 772.257.5751
Fax: 772.569.9303
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