Attention Veterans and Spouses: Key benefits you may qualify for but are not receiving?

There are currently approximately 27,600 veterans living in Southwest Georgia and these men and woman sacrificed life and limb for this Country and our freedom.  You have heard the problems with the Veterans Administration health care system and it has a long way to go to improve the quality of care our veterans deserve.  I am not here to discuss the VA’s health system but to tell you about the benefits our veterans, widows and dependents of these veterans may qualify for but are not receiving.

There are several reasons why you may not of heard of these benefits, the first being is the lack of communication from the VA and even if you heard of these benefits navigating the bureaucracy of the VA is a daunting task.  That is where I, as VA accredited attorney, can help.  We can make the difference between qualifying and not qualifying for a tax-free monthly benefit of up to $2,267 per month for the 2020 calendar year.

I bet you didn’t know that less than 5% of those eligible veterans and their surviving spouses are receiving the VA Improved Pension often referred to as Aid & Attendance.  The average benefit received is well before the maximum pension rate these veterans and surviving spouses qualify for.

The VA Improved Pension was established by Congress to provide financial assistance to veterans and their spouses, because of the veterans service.  This benefit is NOT dependent upon service related injuries. It helps cover the cost of qualified, un-reimbursed medical expenses, including in-home care and assisted living facility care.

The basic qualifying criteria are:

•           Veteran must have served at least 1 day during a qualified war period

•           Veteran must have served at least 90 days of active duty

•           Veteran received a better than dishonorable discharge

•           Claimant is over the age of 65 or permanently or totally disabled

•           Claimant is a surviving spouse of a qualified veteran and did not remarry

•           Claimant or spouse needs assistance with daily living requirements

•           Claimant’s monthly medical expenses equals or exceeds their monthly income

The VA determines whether or not the claimant’s financial resources are sufficient to meet the claimant’s basis needs without receipt of the special monthly pension.  Our goal is to get veterans and their families the most compensation possible within the guidelines, by acting in the best interest of the veteran and surviving spouse.  As an accredited VA attorney I: (1) am knowledgeable of current IRS rules and regulations, how this type of planning might impact eligibility for nursing home benefits in the future and how IRAs can be problem assets; (2) am knowledgeable of trust laws and when and how to transfer assets without adversely impacting eligibility; and (3) knowledgeable of income, estate and gift tax implications for properly transferring assets.

While a veteran or surviving can file claims on his or her own, it is not recommended.  On average, it takes a first-time claim 4-6 months to work its way through the VA’s bureaucracy.  A properly developed and documented first-time claim takes less time to make its way through the system.  This is we step in asking the veteran or surviving spouse for a lot of documentation.

The VA Improved Pension rates for 2020 are:

  Monthly Benefit Yearly Benefit
Veterans and Spouse $2,267 $27,194
Single Veteran $1,912 $22,938
Widow $1,230 $14,761

As an accredited VA attorney I do much more than advise clients on the VA Improved Pension.  For instance there are numerous tax issues that affect veterans and their spouses, such as: (1) disabled veterans homestead tax exemption; (2) abatement of state income taxes; (3) free veteran’s driver’s license; and (4) free honorary hunting and fishing licenses.  These are but a few benefits that you and your spouse may not be receiving.

As an accredited VA attorney I also advise my clients on what long-term care options are available.  Currently, there are two skilled nursing care homes in Georgia for eligible war veterans. One is in Augusta and the other is in Milledgeville. These homes seek to provide high quality skilled nursing care to veterans while seeking to improve residents’ quality of life and overall health.

For end of life decisions as an accredited VA attorney I provide information on burial options for veterans.  The Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemeteries were established for the interment of faithful and honorable military veterans, to recognize all Georgia veterans who have served in the United States armed forces.  Florida has 9-Veteran Cemeteries, Tallahassee National Cemetery being the newest.

As a VA Accredited attorney I do much more than draft documents.  I advise and counsel my clients to them assist throughout their life and give them confidence and peace of mind that their independence, safety and security are my primary concerns.

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