Veterans Benefits Eligibility – 11/22/10

As we age, many of us could use some added help. Maybe you need some care at home; or you're in assisted living or a nursing home. The costs can be very high. But did you know that if you or your spouse served in the military, you may be eligible for thousands of dollars from Uncle Sam to help you pay for those care giving costs and medical bills.

The aid and attendance pension is a wonderful program for veterans and their spouses. And most folks don't even know it's out there. According to the US Veterans Administration, millions of eligible veterans are missing out on billions of dollars of benefits.

There are five main requirements to qualify:

* you or your spouse must have served in the military for 90 days, at least one day during wartime. But you do not have to have been in a war zone.

*you must not have been discharged dishonorably.

*you must need help with daily activities like dressing or undressing, cooking meals, or going to the toilet.

*your annual income, after subtracting all medical expenses, assisted living fees, and caregiver costs, must be less than $19,728 if you're single, or $23,340 if you're married.

*your assets apart from your home and car must be less than $50,000 if you're single, $80,000 if married.

You do not have to have a military connected disability in order to qualify.

Following is an example of how this program works:

Say you're married and your annual income is $35,000 a year. But you're paying $30,000 for assisted living. That leaves only $5000 for all your other expenses. Subtract the $5000 from the $23,340 pension income ceiling and that's the amount of the aid and attendance funds you're eligible to get. So in this example, you'd be entitled to about $18,000 per year from the VA.

For more information, call the federal VA at 1-800-827-1000 or the Cuyahoga county Veterans' Service Commission at 1-866-915-8387

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