Shifting Sands of VA Benefits Emphasizes Need for Pre-Planning

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Shifting Sands of VA Benefits Emphasizes Need for Pre-Planning

By Tony Pasciuto
The rising costs of Long-Term Care, which locally is approximately ten-thousand dollars ($10,000) monthly for skilled nursing care, demands that planning for this expense not be put off until the last minute or until a crisis occurs. When planning for Long-Term Care it is important to consider all options, including Long-Term Care insurance, one’s ability to self-pay or self-insure, and available government benefits such as Medicare and Medicaid.
For many veterans one such government benefit is “Aid and Attendance.” This benefit is frequently used to help off-set the costs of in-home nurses, and assisted living levels of care; costs that are not often paid by Maryland Medicaid’s Long-Term Care benefit which focuses on skilled-nursing/nursing home costs. Aid and Attendance is available through the Department of Veteran Affairs Veteran Pension Benefits for veterans who served during wartime (though they are not required to have seen combat). Aid and Attendance benefits may also be received by the veteran’s spouse. This benefit is a needs-based benefit and can pay more than two-thousand dollars ($2,000) per-month for those who qualify.
On October 18, 2018 new rules went into effect regarding Aid and Attendance, most notably the Department of Veteran Affairs will now implement a three (3) year “look-back” period penalizing uncompensated transfers of assets or “gifts” that occurred during the three (3) years prior to the application for benefits. This look-back is functionally similar to the current five (5) year “look back” period that Medicaid imposes. Prior to this latest rule change, Aid and Attendance had no look-back period, allowing the applicant greater flexibility in their financial planning.
This is a significant change to an often-used benefit and highlights just one example of the need to plan for Long-Term Care years before you or your spouse may ever need it. Please contact one of our experienced attorneys at Byrd & Byrd to discuss your Long-Term Care Plan or join us for one of our free Medicaid Monday presentations.

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