The landscape surrounding long-term care in the United States is disconcerting to say the least.
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, seven out of 10 seniors will need help with their day-to-day needs at some point in time. This is just a fact of life that no one can control, but the cost factor presents a significant challenge.
Almost all senior citizens rely on Medicare for health insurance, and they pay taxes throughout their lives to gain eligibility. For the most part, Medicare exists to meet the health care needs of seniors.
Since most people in this age group will need living assistance, any health insurance program for elders would logically cover long-term custodial care. Unfortunately, Medicare does not pay for in-home care or a stay in a nursing home or assisted living facility.
If you can receive a relatively minimal level of care in your own home with the assistance of a professional aid, it would probably be the most economical choice. This would be especially true if you qualify for a veterans benefits that many people have not heard about.
Most people are aware of the fact that people that serve in the military for at least 20 years are entitled to a retirement pension. The amount that you would receive goes up as you continue to stay in the service beyond the 20 years.
There is another military pension that flies under the radar that is simply called the Veterans Pension. It is available to wartime vets that are 65 years of age or older or permanently disabled.
The length of service requirement is surprisingly modest. If you have served for a minimum of 90 days with just one of the days beginning or ending when the country was at war, you meet the requirement.
In addition to the length of service, you have to be able to prove that you have a certain level of financial need. A law was passed in 2018 that changed some of the guidelines for this pension, and one of the changes was an imposition of a hard asset limit.
At the time of this writing in 2020, the limit is $129,094. The figure is adjusted annually to account for inflation, so it will be a bit higher next year.
There are some assets that are not considered to be countable, including a home and up to two acres of land that the home is sitting on. Motor vehicles that are used for transportation are not counted, and furniture and other household items and personal effects are exempt.
Aid and Attendance
A single eligible veteran that is not disabled can qualify for a maximum benefit of $13,752 a year. For someone with a dependent spouse or child, the max benefit is $18,008.
In addition to the standard Veterans Pension, there is also an Aid and Attendance designation. This would be available to qualified former service members that can prove that they need help with their activities of daily living.
The maximum annual benefit for a single Aid and Attendance eligible veteran is $22,939, and it goes up to $27,195 for veterans with a dependent.
36 Month Look Back Period
Prior to the enactment of the law that altered the parameters, veterans could give away assets to create a financial profile that would allow them to qualify for the pension. This can still be done, but all the gift giving must be completed at least 36 months before the application is submitted.
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Clearly, this pension can give you a boost during your senior years if you are a qualified veteran. And of course, if you are not a veteran, there are steps you can take to brace yourself for long-term care costs.
Each situation is different, and this is why you should discuss all of your options with a licensed attorney. If you are ready to take that step, you can schedule a consultation if you call us at 585-374-5210. There is also a contact form on this website you can use to send us a message.
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