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Help Understanding Veterans Pension Rules
Old 12-15-2017, 12:40 PM   #1
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Help Understanding Veterans Pension Rules

My father is 95. He is a Navy vet and I am pretty sure he was on active duty in 1946. Therefore I believe he qualifies for a Supplemental Income for Wartime Veterans pension. My questions are about the income limits and the value of the pension, so I am hoping there are some experts here who can help me out.

Dad and Mom have a about $32k in annual annuity income with ~85% of that coming from their Social Security payments (they each have their own.) The remainder is from Dad's work pension, which does not have a COLA. They also have a small nest egg, but I had been assuming that I would not apply for the veterans pension until their savings were nearly exhausted.

I did some more research on the pension recently and, if I am understanding the rules correctly, my parents have too much annual income to qualify. And even if they did quality, the pension would only bring them up to the current limit for their situation, which I believe is $26,036. Before giving up on this I thought I'd ask the experts here to make sure I am not misinterpreting the rules. Basically I am searching for another annuity stream that will help make my parents more attractive financially to an assisted living facility.
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Old 12-15-2017, 01:16 PM   #2
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Never heard of this but did a little googling. See https://www.payingforseniorcare.com/...s_pension.html

Looks like there is an asset test as well.
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Old 12-15-2017, 01:29 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
Never heard of this but did a little googling. See https://www.payingforseniorcare.com/...s_pension.html

Looks like there is an asset test as well.
Yes, I had some phone advice on that roughly a year ago from someone who helps people apply and he said that I should wait until my parent's assets were below $90k. Unfortunately, due to my State's budget issues, that resource is no longer available.

From my understanding of the rules, Dad can't get Aid and Attendance benefits unless he qualifies for the Veteran's Pension, and I think their annual income fails that test. But, some medical expenses qualify as deductions against their income so I am wondering if the cost of assisted living and/or skilled nursing care qualifies? If so, then he would become eligible because the cost of that care is well above their annual income.
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Old 12-15-2017, 01:41 PM   #4
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Find a Veterans Service Officer to help you navigate this.
That's what they do, and it won't cost you a dime.

One source:
https://www.nacvso.org

Another:
https://nvf.org/veteran-service-officers/
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Old 12-15-2017, 01:48 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
Find a Veterans Service Officer to help you navigate this.
That's what they do, and it won't cost you a dime.

One source:
https://www.nacvso.org

Another:
https://nvf.org/veteran-service-officers/
Thanks Braumeister. The second link yielded a local hit at the armory. I will call them for assistance.
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Old 12-15-2017, 01:56 PM   #6
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Also check with any local America Legion post or VFW post. AmVets would be an alternative, but I'm not familiar with that outfit.
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Old 12-15-2017, 02:42 PM   #7
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I went through something similar when I was a guardian for a friend of mine. Because I had placed her in a facility about an hour away that would take what she got in SS and a small pension I wasn't eligible to get the other pension to put her in a facility in our town. If I had tried before I placed her we would have gotten it because she had no savings left and qualified in every other way. Ugh!
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Old 12-15-2017, 03:02 PM   #8
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My father is 85, has Alzheimer's and is a Korean war era vet. Because his income is now used for his medical needs, he qualified for a VA pension of $1,800 a month, tax free. There were 9 forms we had to fill out to document is medical condition and that his income is used to provide for his medical needs. (With his condition, all his needs are now deemed medical.)
We had a financial advisor who does all this for the vet at no charge. All I had to do was get his DD214 and show that his income is used to pay for his senior center costs. Oh, and a form that his doctor had to fill out stating Dad needs assistance with fixing meals, toilet, getting around with a walker and can't drive any more.
I recommend you find someone in your community who will walk you though the steps. Any mis-step on the forms or form not filled out right will result in a HUGE delay. Even though we had everything right, it still took 9 months to get his pension. Fortunately it's back dated to the day we submitted.
Check out the VA's e-benefits website for additional info.
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Old 12-15-2017, 03:15 PM   #9
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VFW and American Legion can be helpful. The most helpful with these issues is DAV..disabled American Vets, look for a DAV branch near you.
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Old 12-15-2017, 03:23 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by NoiseBoy View Post
Yes, I had some phone advice on that roughly a year ago from someone who helps people apply and he said that I should wait until my parent's assets were below $90k. Unfortunately, due to my State's budget issues, that resource is no longer available.

From my understanding of the rules, Dad can't get Aid and Attendance benefits unless he qualifies for the Veteran's Pension, and I think their annual income fails that test. But, some medical expenses qualify as deductions against their income so I am wondering if the cost of assisted living and/or skilled nursing care qualifies? If so, then he would become eligible because the cost of that care is well above their annual income.
Yes, his assisted living costs are considered medical costs. My dad is able to deduct all his assisted living facility costs as medical deductions on his income tax. 100% of his income is now deemed a medical expense. My CPA had us immediately stop his state pension from deducting federal income tax because of this. Talk to your tax advisor for clarification in your and your father's situation, but I imagine if my dad got the deduction, then so would yours parents.
There is a limit on assets, but lots of assets are not counted, like a home equity for example. Is your parents assets in trust or in their names? There may be ways to protect assets and still legally make his claim valid.
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Old 12-15-2017, 03:53 PM   #11
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Yes, his assisted living costs are considered medical costs. My dad is able to deduct all his assisted living facility costs as medical deductions on his income tax. 100% of his income is now deemed a medical expense. My CPA had us immediately stop his state pension from deducting federal income tax because of this. Talk to your tax advisor for clarification in your and your father's situation, but I imagine if my dad got the deduction, then so would yours parents.
There is a limit on assets, but lots of assets are not counted, like a home equity for example. Is your parents assets in trust or in their names? There may be ways to protect assets and still legally make his claim valid.
My sister and I are both in pretty good shape financially so we are fine with using 100% of my parent's assets to find them the best final care location that we can. It's encouraging to know that Dad will probably qualify for a significant pension benefit once he meets income and asset eligibility rules because I think that will be a positive factor in finding a facility that will accept them.

Thanks for all of the advice. I am going to contact the local VSO on Monday. There is one elder care attorney in the area and it's starting to sound like that might be money well spent too.
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