The maze of Veteran’s Aid and Attendance Benefits| by Elder Law Attorney Rick Law

Life is going along and suddenly, your parent, spouse or other loved one is diagnosed with a chronic disease.  Or maybe memory and mobility issues have crept slowly into their life.  Before you know it, you are thrust into a new chapter in your life and things will never be the same again. When this common situation happened to a friend’s mother, I got started in the maze of VA benefits.

Someone I cared for was a living widow of a wartime veteran and she needed help to pay for the long term care expenses she would soon be overwhelmed by.  I vaguely knew that there were some type of veteran’s benefits available, but I didn’t know exactly what it was or how to get it. I am a full-time lawyer. I spend every day keeping up with the ins and outs of senior’s issues, yet I felt virtually clueless as to how to help her get VA benefits.  For my clients, I was used to being able to help with Medicaid benefits. Anything she might have needed help with her estate planning, I’ve got that covered. Disability issues: double-check. Yet here I was, feeling out of my element with veteran’s benefits and flooded with emotions that were tied to the fact that I wasn’t ready to fully take care of her the way I needed to be. I needed help.

The truth is, I had actually attempted to tackle VA’s Aid & Attendance benefit, but I had been frustrated at the amount of time and energy that it would take me to become professionally able to use the skill. Quite frankly, I needed to pay attention to the work I already knew how to do to help my clients.

Then one day all that changed and I had a rude awakening! By the time I got that call from my friend who needed veteran’s benefits to pay for care, I had gone to several educational classes about VA benefits, yet I still didn’t know how to get that pension. This is not easy stuff to get through, even for an Elder Care attorney!

I was not going to stop until I conquered this thing and learned everything I could. Let me tell you, I definitely “paid the price” in time, money, and effort to learn the little-known VA rules for nursing home benefits for the over-65 wartime veteran and/or veteran’s survivor spouse. Now I am happy to say I can help you and your family as well to understand when and where those VA benefit are available to help with long term medical care expenses.

And as for my friend I wanted desperately to help?  I was able get my friend a widow’s pension of $1,094 per month to help her pay for her $4,000 per month assisted living fees. With that, she was able to afford several more months of private-pay nursing home care and the dignity that comes with it.

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