As a former U.S. service member, you thought you could rely on the Department of Veterans Affairs to help you pay for the costs of your retirement. However, you have recently been told that you do not qualify for Veterans’ Aid and Attendance—not because of your service record, but because your net worth is “too high.”
When it comes to paying for nursing home care, your “net worth” is a deceptive term. Having a high net worth does not mean you make enough to pay for the costs of your care; it simply means that the wealth you have in your assets could potentially be used to pay for your living facility.
The VA Examines Two Aspects of Your Estate When Determining Your Net Worth
IncomeMany retired seniors mistakenly think that they will meet veterans’ Aid financial requirements because they have no income. However, the VA may count many different types of payments as income, including monthly pensions, interest payments, and any income generated by the people living in your household.
AssetsYour assets are any item of value that you could potentially derive benefits from. These things are assigned value by the VA, such as the market value of any real estate (minus the amount you owe in mortgages), personal property, stack certificates, and so on. Generally speaking, you must have less than $40,000 in assets ($80,000 for a couple) in order to qualify for benefits. The only things that may not be counted toward this limit are your home, one car, and non-valuable household furnishings.
Trusts Allow You to Qualify for Benefits and Keep Wealth in the Family
Since many nursing homes cost an average of $8,000 per month, it wouldn’t take long for someone even with a high net worth to spend his entire savings on medical care alone. For this reason, the VA allows veterans to transfer their property into the care of their children and family members in order to maintain their benefit eligibility. A common way to do this is by setting up a trust and transferring a certain amount of your wealth and property into it, naming trusted family members as beneficiaries.
Trusts are a popular method of asset protection because they offer the best of both worlds: they allow a veteran to continue receiving his Aid and Attendance pension, while still keeping his assets from passing to his family members or being sold or confiscated during his lifetime.
We Can Help You Get Veterans’ Aid If Your Net Worth Is Too High
It is important that you create your trust before applying for Veterans’ Aid and Attendance. If done correctly, the VA will only calculate your net worth once and should not impose a waiting period or penalties for transferring assets. At the Law Office of Walter B. Shurden, we can help you get the funds you need to pay for long-term care. Call our office in Clearwater, Florida, at 877-241-1230 or email us to have our staff contact you.