When it comes to the Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefits that are accrued to a senior citizen of the country, the right information sometimes eludes them and others who might also gain from them. One very important benefit platform made available for the seniors is the Veteran Affairs Aid and Attendance program.
Interestingly, many veterans, 65 years and above, who stand a great chance of qualifying for such a program sadly do not take advantage of it.
Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefits makes provision for a sizable monthly pay that veterans or their spouses can access and apply to their living expenses. Expenses such as those for nursing homes, home caregivers and assisted living facilities.
BRIEF HISTORY OF THIS PROGRAM
Back in the year 1636, in the battle of the pilgrims of Plymouth colony (one of the many colonies that would eventually make up the United States of America ) and the Pequot Indians, it was agreed that any man who fought in the war and by reason of the same becomes maimed bodily or otherwise, such a person will be taken care of for the rest of their lives by the colony.
Years later, in 1789, this decree was passed into law by the United States congress, setting the ball rolling for what would become benefits like the pension for veterans and aid and attendance benefits.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO BENEFIT FROM AID AND ATTENDANCE BENEFITS?
- The veteran has to be a senior living resident or the person must have a home caregiver who will apply for the aid and attendant benefits.
- You must not have been discharged dishonorably from service.
- Your net worth, which includes your assets, your income as well as that of your spouse, must not be in excess of $129,094. However, it is important to note that this figure is constantly under review and it is best to confirm the most current information.
- You would have been in active service before September 8, 1980 and would have served for at least 90 days, with at least one day of war time.
- If your service was after September 7, 1980, then you should have served for at least 24 months with at least one day of war time service.
- The considered lower limit of age is 65.
- You suffer from a permanent disability and live in a nursing home or receive social security disability allowance.
You may ask – what wars are taken into consideration by the United States? The Veteran aids and attendant benefits program considers the following wars as a criteria:
- Mexican Border War, 1916 – 1917
- World War I, 1917 – 1918
- World War II, 1941 – 1946
- The Korean Conflict, June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955
- The Vietnam War, February 28, 1962 – May 1975
- The Gulf War, August 2, 1990
In addition, the veteran who seeks to access the veteran aid and attendance benefit package needs to have a caregiver who helps with daily mundane activities such as getting dressed up and self-grooming. Also, other factors that are put into consideration are: being bed ridden, having vision less than 5/20 in acuity.
Currently, the Veteran Aid and Attendance will pay a monthly fee of $1,911 to single veterans. For a veteran with a spouse, the pay goes up to $2,266. If both partners are veterans, then the payment is in the tune of $3,032 and finally for surviving spouses of veterans, they earn $1,176.
HOW TO APPLY FOR THE VETERAN AID AND ATTENDANCE?
You can either do this by mail or go in person to apply. You will be required to complete and submit a VA Form 21-2680. Afterwards, there’s an examination information section that your doctor will need to fill out for you. Remember the following vital details as you go on fill out the forms:
- Social Security Number
- Veteran Service Number
- VA File Number
It is best to make the application through the website of the United States Department of Veteran Affairs.
COST OF APPLICATION
Interestingly, it costs absolutely nothing to apply for this benefit. Advisors have been prohibited from charging any fee for application. However, charges may apply for other services rendered such as help in putting together their financial statements and assets.
SPOUSE RIGHT TO SURVIVORSHIP
When a spouse is lost, sometimes such deaths are accompanied with a crossroads of legal battles regarding claims to property. In some cases, the surviving spouse have full legal right of ownership, claim or access to such property. However, this is not so in all cases. We will look at what cases fall under the ideal sphere for a spouse to make claims of ownership.
To explain, spouse right to ownership is simply the legal right that a spouse who is a joint owner or tenant holds, with which they can claim property, real or personal, in the event of the death of their joint tenant.
It could be a house or a joint account or perhaps a business that both partners have jointly established prior to the death of either one. This is the business of partnership between a couple.
For this to take effect, usually, there has to be a deed for the right of survivorship. This deed is a document in which the parties involved set forth terms as to how the transfer of property will follow upon the death of either of them.
At this point, it may start to sound like a will right? Understandably so. But for the purpose of clarity, all properties covered under the right to survivorship should not appear on the will and testaments because the rights actually supersede the will.
There is a caveat to this though; if the holder of this right to survivorship is the last surviving partner of the agreement, then the rules change. The property involved can then be included in estate declared in a will or testament.
WHAT HAPPENS IN THE CASE OF A DIVORCE?
Except when there is an added clause in the agreement to state otherwise, the right to survivorship usually still binds the couple even from the day the divorce proceedings were initiated to the day the divorce is finalized.
CAN THIS RIGHT BE CONTESTED?
The right of survivorship is said to be more iron clad and water tight than even a will. It is not contestable. But a problem can arise in a case where it is not properly drafted.
CONCERNS ABOUT RIGHTS OF SURVIVORSHIP
Some people have valid reasons why they may be reluctant to proceed with a right to survivorship. Some of the numerous reasons include the following:
1. Divided Control
Just like in a business partnership, each partner can decide what to do with their own part of the ownership. They can decide whom to transfer it to at any time even without the consent of the other person while they are alive.
2. Debts Responsibilities
If the property attracts and accrues debts in any form, regardless of which end it emanates from, both individuals bear the cost.
3. Tax Consequence
When a part of the property held within the rights is gifted to a third party outside the duality in the partnership, the IRS will come knocking as they will tax the property when you try to sell, as against when it is transferred over at the death of one partner.
It is advised that a couple who wishes to have such an agreement drafted should seek a competent legal advisor before undertaking this process.
The benefits are numerous. A right to survivorship saves a lot of dollars in legal fees in the claim of properties in the event of the death of a partner. This does not however mean that a will cannot also be drafted if needed. Both documents can co-exist.
Contact us at Aging Assistant for help with applying for Aid & Assistance Benefits.
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