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Extra Income for Veterans and Spouses Can Help Pay for Care

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APRIL 28, 2008  VOLUME 15, NUMBER 44

There is no doubt that in today’s economy some extra income would be welcome, especially if you are struggling to pay for long term care. Many people aren’t aware that the Veteran’s Administration (VA) has a special program, called “Aid and Attendance,” that pays additional income to Veterans and their spouses, and to the widows (and widowers) of Veterans.

In 2008 single Veterans can receive up to $1554 per month in extra income. Married Veterans may qualify for as much as $1842 per month and widow(er)s up to $998 per month. These additional funds can mean the difference between being able to stay in the home while receiving in-home care or having to be placed in a nursing home or assisted living facility.

In order to qualify, the Veteran must have served at least 90 consecutive days of active service with at least one day of that service having been during a wartime period. The Veteran does nothave to have a service connected disability. The Veteran must also meet medical criteria, which means that he or she must need supervisory care or assistance with activities of daily living. That means requiring assistance with, for instance, grooming, eating or bathing.

There is also a financial test. A Veteran, married or single, must have less than $80,000 in “countable” assets (a house, car, and some other personal items are exempt) and have limited income.

Although there are financial requirements, Veterans should know that the VA will take into account medical bills to offset income. In addition (and unlike the rules for Medicaid and most other government programs), there are no penalties for gifts or transfers. The VA programs even allocate account values based on account titling — meaning that a jointly-held account will be treated as only partially belonging to the Veteran. These rules are much more relaxed than federal/state Medicaid rules, which means that there are many more opportunities to plan for VA benefits. That can even mean securing government assistance which allows the Veteran to simultaneously stay at home while staying off of the state Medicaid system.

If a VA Aid and Attendance applicant already requires long term care it is certainly important to consider Medicaid rules at the same time, if for no other reason than the possibility that care needs might increase. Benefits received under the Medicaid system can be much more generous than those available under Aid and Attendance Income, as the Medicaid system pays for care directly. That can easily amount to $4,000 or more of care costs per month. Cautious planning is, of course, the rule when considering present Aid and Attendance applications and/or future Medicaid eligibility.

All that being said, there are planning opportunities for both programs, and many Veterans will find that they are presented with more options in receiving assistance to pay for long term care. At Fleming & Curti, PLC, we stand ready to help Arizona Veterans and their family members figure out the availability of benefits, eligibility rules and planning options.

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Robert B. Fleming


Robert Fleming is a Fellow of both the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He has been certified as a Specialist in Estate and Trust Law by the State Bar of Arizona‘s Board of Legal Specialization, and he is also a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. Robert has a long history of involvement in local, state and national organizations. He is most proud of his instrumental involvement in the Special Needs Alliance, the premier national organization for lawyers dealing with special needs trusts and planning.

Robert has two adult children, two young grandchildren and a wife of over fifty years. He is devoted to all of them. He is also very fond of Rosalind Franklin (his office companion corgi), and his homebound cat Muninn. He just likes people, their pets and their stories.

Elizabeth N.R. Friman


Elizabeth Noble Rollings Friman is a principal and licensed fiduciary at Fleming & Curti, PLC. Elizabeth enjoys estate planning and helping families navigate trust and probate administrations. She is passionate about the fiduciary work that she performs as a trustee, personal representative, guardian, and conservator. Elizabeth works with CPAs, financial professionals, case managers, and medical providers to tailor solutions to complex family challenges. Elizabeth is often called upon to serve as a neutral party so that families can avoid protracted legal conflict. Elizabeth relies on the expertise of her team at Fleming & Curti, and as the Firm approaches its third decade, she is proud of the culture of care and consideration that the Firm embodies. Finding workable solutions to sensitive and complex family challenges is something that Elizabeth and the Fleming & Curti team do well.

Amy F. Matheson


Amy Farrell Matheson has worked as an attorney at Fleming & Curti since 2006. A member of the Southern Arizona Estate Planning Council, she is primarily responsible for estate planning and probate matters.

Amy graduated from Wellesley College with a double major in political science and English. She is an honors graduate of Suffolk University Law School and has been admitted to practice in Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia.

Prior to joining Fleming & Curti, Amy worked for American Public Television in Boston, and with the international trade group at White & Case, LLP, in Washington, D.C.

Amy’s husband, Tom, is an astronomer at NOIRLab and the Head of Time Domain Services, whose main project is ANTARES. Sadly, this does not involve actual time travel. Amy’s twin daughters are high school students; Finn, her Irish Red and White Setter, remains a puppy at heart.

Famous people's wills

Matthew M. Mansour


Matthew is a law clerk who recently earned his law degree from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. His undergraduate degree is in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Matthew has had a passion for advocacy in the Tucson community since his time as a law student representative in the Workers’ Rights Clinic. He also has worked in both the Pima County Attorney’s Office and the Pima County Public Defender’s Office. He enjoys playing basketball, caring for his cat, and listening to audiobooks narrated by the authors.