Category Archives: Veterans Aid & Attendance

Planning for Long-Term Care (Part 5)

Written by Evan Farr

The Veteran’s Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit

The best advice that I can give you when planning for long-term care is not to delay. We never know what the future holds. While we are able, we must prepare for a variety of situations, and so it is imperative not just to plan for long-term care, but to plan properly.

Part 1 of this five part series began showing why establishing a good Long-Term Care Plan is a necessary and urgent matter. Part 2 outlined the three most essential documents found in a good Long-Term Care Plan and Part 3 explained how long-term care insurance might enhance that plan. The last installment, Part 4, discussed how a trust that is unique to our firm, the Living Trust PlusTM Asset Protection Trust, can protect your assets from the hassles and expenses of probate PLUS the expenses of long-term care. The Living Trust PlusTM is the only type of self-settled asset protection trust that allows a settlor to retain an interest in the trust while also protecting the assets from being counted according to state Medicaid laws. What I have just described is the single most prominent feature of the Living Trust PlusTM and it is also what makes this type of trust be the preferred form of asset protection for most people.

The final installment of this series will now discuss an under-utilized, special monthly pension benefit available to wartime veterans and surviving spouses of deceased wartime veterans who are incapable of self-support and in need of regular personal assistance.

Who Is Eligible for the Veteran’s Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit?

To receive the Veteran’s Special Pension Benefit for Aid & Attendance, a veteran must have served on active duty, at least 90 days, at least one day of which occurred during a period designated as wartime.

 Periods Designated As Wartime:

  • World War II — December 7, 1941 through December 31, 1946
  • Korean Conflict — June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955
  • Vietnam Era — August 5, 1964 through May 7, 1975; for veterans who served “in country” before August 5, 1964, February 28, 1961 through May 7, 1975
  • Gulf War — August 2, 1990 through a date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation

There must have been a not dishonorable discharge. If younger than 65, the veteran must be totally disabled. If age 65 and older, there is no requirement to prove disability. However, the veteran or spouse must be in need of regular aid and attendance due to: inability of claimant to dress or undress, or to keep clean and presentable; frequent need of adjustment of any special prosthetic or orthopedic appliances which by reason of the particular disability cannot be done without aid (this will not include the adjustment of appliances which normal persons would be unable to adjust without aid, such as supports, belts, lacing at the back etc.); inability to eat due to loss of coordination of upper extremities or through extreme weakness; inability to attend to the wants of nature; or incapacity, physical or mental, which requires care or assistance on a regular basis to protect the claimant from hazards or dangers incident to his or her daily environment.

Not all of the disabling conditions in the list above are required to exist. It is only necessary that the evidence establish that the veteran or spouse needs “regular” (scheduled and ongoing) aid and attendance from someone else, not that there be a 24-hour need.

Determinations of a need for the aid and attendance is based on medical reports and findings by private physicians or from hospital facilities.

What Is the Amount of the Aid and Attendance Benefit?

Effective December 1, 2011, the Veterans A&A Pension can provide:

  • $20,447 per year (~$1,704 per month) for a qualified veteran;
  • $24,239 per year (~$2,020 per month ) if the veteran is married;
  • $13,138 per year (~$1,095 per month ) for a surviving spouse of a qualified veteran;
  • $31,578 per year (~$2,631 per month ) if both spouses are qualified veterans.

Is Aid and Attendance Only For Low Income Veterans?

No, and this is the primary reason that this benefit is so widely misunderstood. If you speak to a Veterans Service Representative in a regional VA office and ask them about the Veterans Aid and Attendance benefit, they will typically ask for your household income. When you tell them your household income, they will compare it to a chart and most often tell you that you earn too much income to receive the benefit. While the information they provide may be technically accurate, what they typically don’t explain is the “income” for Veterans Administration purposes (sometimes called IVAP or “adjusted income”) is actually your household income minus your recurring, unreimbursed medical and long-term care expenses. These allowable, annualized medical expenses are such things as health insurance premiums, home care expenses, the cost of paying a family member or other person to provide care, the cost of adult day care, the cost of an assisted living facility, or the cost of a nursing home.

To be able to receive the Veterans Pension with Aid and Attendance benefit, the veteran household cannot have adjusted income (i.e., household income minus unreimbursed medical expenses) exceeding the Maximum Allowable Pension Rate — MAPR — for that veteran’s Pension income category. If the adjusted income exceeds MAPR, there is no benefit. If adjusted income is less than the MAPR, the veteran receives a Pension income that is equal to the difference between MAPR and the household income adjusted for unreimbursed medical expenses. The Pension income is calculated based on 12 months of future household income, but paid monthly.

How is the Aid and Attendance Benefit Calculated?

The monthly award is based on VA totaling 12 months of estimated future income and subtracting from that 12 months of estimated future recurring, unreimbursed medical expenses. Allowable medical expenses are reduced by a deductible to produce an adjusted medical expense which in turn is subtracted from the estimated 12 months of future income.

The new income derived from subtracting adjusted medical expenses from income is called “countable” income or IVAP (Income for Veterans Affairs Purposes). This countable income is then subtracted from the Maximum Allowable Pension Rate — MAPR — and that result is divided by 12 to determine the monthly income Pension award. This cash benefit is paid in addition to the family income that already exists.

Filing a Claim

Filing a claim for the Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit is complex and time-consuming. If you want to do it correctly, it’s important to get qualified assistance. Just knowing which form to fill out and how to complete it is a complex endeavor in itself. Even if the proper form is completed, failure to check a single box may result in a complete denial of your claim.

The application process involves: obtaining evidence of prospective, recurring medical expenses; appointments for VA powers of attorney and fiduciaries; and a thorough understanding of the application process. Often, qualification for this benefit involves reallocation of assets and shifting of income in order to qualify, and these re-allocations may have significant impact on Medicaid eligibility.

Given that many veterans who need the Aid and Attendance Benefit will eventually wind up also needing Medicaid, this process should not be attempted without the help of a qualified elder law attorney who thoroughly understands both the Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit and the Medicaid program, as well as the interaction between these two benefit programs.

We assist Level 4 clients of our firm, at no charge, in completing the required paperwork.

Conclusion

Evan H. Farr is an Accredited Attorney with the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, and the Farr Law Firm is an Elder Law and Estate Planning Firm that helps Veterans and their spouses obtain the financial assistance to which they are entitled. If you are a Veteran or spouse of a Veteran and you need assistance in your home, or are living in or considering moving into an Assisted Living Facility or Continuing Care Retirement Community, please contact us to see if you might qualify for the Veterans Aid and Attendance Special Pension Benefit. Call us today and take the first step towards gaining the peace of mind that comes with a good Long-Term Care Plan. 

If You’d Like More Information About Veterans Aid & Attendance,
Please Fill Out the Form Below to Receive our Veterans Aid & Attendance Special Report!

Planning for Long-Term Care (Part 4)

Written by Evan Farr

The most important thing that you can do in planning for future contingencies is to act now. The future may hold limited resources or health problems for you and either one of these may prevent you from taking care of the things that you can easily achieve today.

In Part 1 of this series, I showed how making a good Long-Term Care Plan is an urgent and necessary step in preparing for the future. In Part 2, I outlined the three most essential documents found in that plan, namely, a General Power of Attorney, Advance Medical Directive with a Long-Term Care Directive and a Lifestyle Care Plan. In the last installment, Part 3, I discussed using long-term care insurance as part of a Long-Term Care Plan.  As we saw in Part 3, Virginia’s Long-Term Care Insurance Partnership Program offers government-endorsed “Medicaid Asset Protection” to consumers who buy long-term care insurance.
Part 4 will now discuss how our Living Trust PlusTM Asset Protection Trust can protect you from probate (as does a Revocable Living Trust) PLUS protect you from the expenses of long-term care.

You Can’t Afford to Ignore Long-Term Care Expenses

Whether you’re rich, poor, or somewhere in between, you cannot afford to ignore the potentially devastating costs of nursing home care and other types of long-term care. Nursing homes are the most likely and one of the most expensive creditors that most Americans are likely to face in their lifetimes. Remember the following statistics that I cited in Part 1 of this series:

  • About 70% of Americans who live to age 65 will need long-term care at some time in their lives, over 40 percent in a nursing home.
  • As of 2008, the national average cost of a private room in a nursing home was $212 per day or $77,380 per year.
  • The average person age 65 today will need some long-term care services for three years. Women need care for longer (on average 3.7 years) than do men (on average 2.2 years). Twenty percent of them will need care for more than five years.
  • Long-term care is not just needed by the elderly. A recent study found that 46 percent of group long-term care claimants were under the age of 65 at the time of disability.

Contrast the above long-term care statistics with statistics for automobile accident claims and homeowner’s insurance claims:

  • Between 2005 and 2007, an average of only 7.2% of people per year filed an automobile insurance claim.
  • Between 2002 and 2006, an average of only 6.15% of people per year filed a claim on their homeowner’s insurance.

Revocable Living Trusts Don’t Help

A revocable living trust is a wonderful tool to protect your assets from the expenses of probate, but it does not protect your assets from the expenses of long-term care while you’re alive. Because you have 100% unlimited access to the funds in a revocable living trust, so do your creditors, including nursing homes and State Medicaid programs.

Living Trust PlusTMProtect Assets from Probate PLUS Lawsuits PLUS The Expenses of Long-Term Care

In response to this limitation of revocable living trusts, I have developed a unique solution – a special type of irrevocable trust called the Living Trust PlusTM that functions very similarly to a revocable living trust but protects your assets from the expenses and difficulties of probate PLUS lawsuits PLUS the expenses of long-term care while you’re alive, in addition to a multitude of other financial risks during your lifetime. The Living Trust PlusTM protects your assets from lawsuits, auto accidents, creditor attacks, medical expenses, and — most importantly for the 99% of Americans who are not among the ultra-wealthy — from the catastrophic expenses often incurred in connection with nursing home care. For most Americans, the Living Trust PlusTM is the preferable form of asset protection trust because, for purposes of Medicaid eligibility, this type of trust is the only type of self-settled asset protection trust that allows a settlor to retain an interest in the trust while also protecting the assets from being counted by state Medicaid agencies.
Even though the Living Trust PlusTM is “irrevocable,” it can still be terminated so long as all interested parties (typically you and all of your beneficiaries) agree to terminate it. Additionally, you remain in control of your assets because:

  • you can be the trustee if desired;
  • you retain the right to receive all of the trust income;
  • you retain the right to live in and use your real estate;
  • you retain the right to change trustees; and
  • you retain the right to change beneficiaries.

The Living Trust PlusTM has no effect on your income or your income taxes.
If you’re a client or potential client who would like more information about the Living Trust PlusTM, please call us at 703-691-1888 to contact us for an appointment, visit the Living Trust PlusTM web site at http://www.livingtrustplus.com or click here to register for one of our upcoming Living Trust PlusTM informational seminars.
If you’re an attorney interested in more information about the Living Trust PlusTM or interested in the possibility of licensing the Living Trust PlusTM Asset Protection System, visit the Living Trust PlusTM web site at http://www.livingtrustplus.com and click on the link labeled “For Attorneys.”


Farr Law Firm Pledge

The goal of the Farr Law Firm is to give all of our clients not only the best legal expertise possible, but also excellent client service. We try very hard never to keep you waiting. We try to return all phone calls promptly.

We work as a team so that there is always someone available to help you when you need it. All of the people who work in our office are committed to this goal. They are all caring and compassionate people, and they understand the problems that you and your family may be facing. To get to know our team, please click here.

Planning for Long-Term Care (Part 2)

Written by Evan Farr

“Long-Term Care” refers to the broad spectrum of medical and support services provided to persons who have lost some or all capacity to function on their own due to a chronic illness or disabling condition, and who are expected to need such services over a prolonged period of time. Long-term care can consist of care in the home by family members (assisted by voluntary or employed help), adult day health care, or care in assisted living facilities or nursing homes.

In Part 1 of this series I mentioned that 60% of us will need long-term care at some point in our lives. When this statistic is put in perspective with the relatively low likelihood of making an automobile or homeowner’s insurance claim, the risk that you or I will need long-term care at some point in the future is shocking. Unfortunately, the majority of Americans are either unaware of these statistics or refuse to plan for the often catastrophic costs of long-term care. Part 1 of this series outlined the necessity to create a good Long-Term Care Plan in addition to, or as part of, your Estate Plan; Part 2 will now discuss the three most essential documents found in a good Long-Term Care Plan, as well as two additional documents that are often also part of a Long-Term Care Plan.

General Power of Attorney

A General Durable Power of Attorney (POA) containing Asset Protection Powers is the first essential document. Not all POA’s are created equal; it is crucial that this document be prepared by a knowledgeable and experienced Elder Law Attorney. One way to ensure the qualifications of your attorney is to look for one who is Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation, the only organization accredited by the American Bar Association to certify lawyers in the specialty area of Elder Law. For a list of Certified Elder Law Attorneys, please visit http://www.nelf.org/findcela.asp.

A POA (always “durable” when used in connection with estate planning and long-term care planning) authorizes your “Agent,” sometimes called an “Attorney in Fact,” to act on your behalf and sign your name to legal and financial documents. It is an essential tool in the event that, due to age, illness, or injury, you are unable to carry on your legal and financial affairs. Asset Protection Powers written into the POA are essential in order for your Agent to protect your assets from the often-catastrophic expenses of long-term care. Attorneys who are not experienced Elder Law Attorneys often fail to put these essential Asset Protection Powers into the POA.

A properly-drafted POA is designed to avoid the need to go through a court-supervised conservatorship proceeding, which is a time consuming, expensive, and publicly embarrassing process whereby someone goes to court to have you declared incompetent and to be appointed as your Conservator. The Conservatorship process is often referred to as a type of “living probate” because the Conservator is subject to all the rules of the probate court, including the onerous requirement of filing annual accountings with the Court. State laws vary regarding the use and acceptance of a power of attorney.

Advance Medical Directive

The second essential document in a good Long-Term Care Plan is an Advance Medical Directive (AMD) containing a Long-Term Care Directive. As with General Powers of Attorney, every lawyer drafts AMDs differently, and most attorneys do not include a Long-Term Care Directive within the AMD. Therefore, it is again in your best interest to have your AMD written by an attorney who specializes in long-term care planning, such as a Certified Elder Law Attorney.

An AMD (also called a Medical Power of Attorney or a Health Care Power of Attorney) authorizes another person (called your “Medical Agent”), to make decisions with respect to your medical care in the event that you are physically or mentally unable to do so. This document includes the type of provisions that used to be in what was commonly called a “Living Will,” allowing you to indicate your wishes concerning the use of artificial or extraordinary measures to prolong your life in the event of a terminal illness or injury. In the AMD you will also appoint a “Medical Agent” and give that person the power to consent to medical and health care decisions on your behalf with regard to providing, withholding, or withdrawing a specific medical treatment or course of treatment when you are incapable of making or communicating an informed decision on your own behalf. A comprehensive AMD will also allow you to indicate your wishes with regard to organ donation, disposition of bodily remains, and funeral arrangements.

A properly-drafted AMD is designed to avoid the need to go through a court-supervised guardianship proceeding, which is a time consuming, expensive, and publicly embarrassing process whereby someone goes to court to have you declared incompetent and to be appointed as your Guardian, typically at the same time they are requesting appointment as your Conservator.

Long-Term Care Directive

Most importantly for your Long-Term Care Plan, your AMD should include a Long-Term Care Directive (or this could be drafted as a separate document), which will allow you to make your desires known in the event you need long-term care in the future. For instance, do you want to remain at home and receive home-based care as long as possible, regardless of cost, even if it drastically reduces or entirely depletes your estate? Or would you prefer to remain at home and receive home-based care only if it doesn’t drastically reduce or entirely deplete your estate? If nursing home care is absolutely required, would you like to protect as much of your assets as can be legally protected so that you can qualify earlier for publicly-funded Medicaid benefits? If so, do you prefer that the protected assets be used to enhance your quality of care, or to provide an inheritance for the beneficiaries of your estate?

In order to be easily accessible when needed, your AMD should be registered with an electronic archive service that can immediately fax the document to any desired destination. Some Elder Law Attorneys, including our firm, provide such registrations to clients at no charge.

Lifestyle Care Plan

The third essential document that is found in a good Long-Term Care Plan is a document called a Lifestyle Care Plan, also known as an Advance Care Plan.  The Lifestyle Care Plan is a document that is created by special software that gathers, organizes, stores and disseminates information provided by you in an interview, in order to guide those who you will depend or for future care. The Lifestyle Care Plan identifies your specific needs, desires, habits and preferences and incorporates all of this information into a document that your future caregiver can use to provide you with the best possible long-term care.

As an example, Alice wrote in her Lifestyle Care Plan that if Alzheimer’s disease or some other type of dementia inhibited her mental abilities to communicate or recognize her surroundings, she wished to be in a respectable facility and only asked that she be visited and brought chocolates. To her children this request seemed silly at the time, but when her mental capacities did diminish, the instructions were there. No one had to wonder if they should try to take care of Alice at home and how they would do it. Without guilt or question they placed her in a respectable facility that took care of her needs. All they had to do was make loving visits, and of course they brought chocolates.

Because of the importance of the Lifestyle Care Plan, the Farr Law Firm provides one to all of our clients as part our comprehensive Long-Term Care Planning services. To learn more about the benefits of having an Advance Care Plan, please click here or visit our Web site at:  www.farrlawfirm.com/advance-care-plan.htm

Living Trusts

A good Long-Term Care Plan will always include the three documents mentioned above, and will typically also include a Living Trust — either a Revocable Living Trust (RLT) or the  Living Trust Plus™ (LTP).

An RLT generally provides for the creator of the trust to have full use of the trust income and principal for life. On the death of the creator, the assets may continue to be held in trust (or may be distributed) for the benefit of the named beneficiaries, such as the grantor’s children. Although the most important benefit of the RLT is to avoid probate, a well-drafted RLT also can help protect from incapacity and can therefore be an important part of a Long-Term Care Plan. Similar to a General Power of Attorney, an RLT can provide uninterrupted management of your assets by your trustee if you become incapacitated, sparing you and your family from having to go through the expense and complexities of a court-appointed conservatorship. It is important to note that an RLT does not protect your assets from the expenses of long-term care. On the contrary, the assets in an RLT must be spent, if necessary, in providing long-term care, even if that means spending down all of the assets in the RLT to provide such care. For more information on RLTs, please click here or visit our Web site at: www.farrlawfirm.com/revocable.html

The Living Trust Plus™ is a living trust that is designed to protect your assets from probate PLUS lawsuits, PLUS nursing home expenses.  In other words, the LTP protects your assets from the complications and hassles of probate and from other financial risks, including the threat of lawsuits, auto accidents, creditor attacks, extended hospitalization, and — most importantly – the catastrophic expenses associated with nursing home care. Part 4 of this series will explore the LTP in detail.

Conclusion

A good Long-Term Care Plan will always include a General Power of Attorney, Advance Medical Directive, and Advance Care Plan, and will typically also include a Living Trust — either a Revocable Living Trust or the Living Trust Plus™.   However, as mentioned in Part 1, these essential legal documents are only part of the requirements for a good Long-Term Care Plan. The other important component is a plan for how to pay for long-term care. The next installment in this series will discuss protecting your assets by purchasing long-term care insurance.

The Farr Law Firm specializes in long-term care planning and we would be happy to assist you in your preparations. Please visit us at www.VirginiaElderLaw.com or call us at 703-691-1888.

Planning for Long-Term Care (Part 1)

Written by Evan Farr

Are you one of the millions of Americans over age 50 who has not yet started planning for long-term care?

As financially responsible adults, most of us are prepared for some unexpected disasters – we pay for health and property damage insurance, and many of us have taken some steps toward funding for our retirement. But very few of us have prepared for one of the most devastating of unexpected events – the need for long-term care. According to most estimates, more than 60% of us will need long-term care at some point in our lives. If you are a member of the “sandwich generation” – responsible for an older parent – the odds that either you or your aging parent will need such care are even higher, and the costs to your lifestyle, finances, and security can be catastrophic. Consider the following long-term care statistics:

• About 70% of Americans who live to age 65 will need long-term care at some time in their lives, over 40 percent in a nursing home.
• As of 2011, the average cost of a nursing home in Northern Virginia was over $100,000 per year.
• A recent insurance company study found that 46 percent of its group long-term care claimants were under the age of 65 at the time of disability.

Contrast the above long-term care statistics with statistics for automobile accident claims and homeowner’s insurance claims:

• An average of only 7.2% of people per year file an automobile insurance claim.
• An average of only 6.15% of people per year file a claim on their homeowner’s insurance.

The need for long-term care drastically alters or completely eliminates the four principal retirement dreams of elderly Americans:

1. Remaining independent in the home without intervention from others
2. Maintaining good health and receiving adequate health care
3. Having enough money for everyday needs
4. Not outliving assets and income

Unfortunately, the reality is that the majority of Americans make no plans for long-term care. Not only does this lack of planning affect older Americans, but it also often has an adverse effect on the older person’s family, with sacrifices made in time, money, and family lifestyles. The stresses of being a caregiver for an older parent often result in a deterioration of the caregiver’s own physical and emotional health. Because of changing demographics and improved health care, the current generation — more than ever — needs to actively plan for long-term care.

So what are basics of a good Long-Term Care Plan? First and foremost are two critical documents that need to be prepared by an experienced and knowledgeable Elder Law Attorney. These two essential documents are:

• A Financial Durable Power of Attorney containing Asset Protection Powers; and
• An Advance Medical Directive containing a Long-Term Care Directive.

The third essential document, which you can prepare on your own, is a Lifestyle Care Plan.

Part 2 of this article will explain and explore these three critical documents to give you a greater understanding of the need for and importance of these vital long-term care planning instruments.

These essential legal documents, however, are only part of the requirements for a good Long-Term Care Plan. The other important component is a sound financial plan for how to pay for good long-term care. There are three primary ways to plan in advance for how to pay for long-term care: (1) build up your income and life savings in order to be able to self-fund your future care needs; (2) protect your assets by purchasing long-term care insurance; or (3) protect your assets by using an asset protection trust designed to legally protect your assets and allow you to qualify for Medicaid, the governmental program that pays for about 70% of people living in nursing homes. For some families, a fourth way to pay for long-term care is a type of Veteran’s pension benefit called “Aid & Attendance.”

Unfortunately, option 1 (building up your income and life savings to self-fund future care) is not feasible for most Americans, especially in these troubled economic times. Accordingly, Parts 3 through 5 of this series will explain and explore these three methods of paying for long-term care. Part 3 will focus primarily on using long-term care insurance to protect your assets; Part 4 will explore the use of a special type of asset protection trust to protect assets and gain early access to Medicaid; and Part 5 will explain the Veteran’s Aid & Attendance benefit.

There are many things that you can do now to begin to put together a good Long-Term Care Plan. The most important thing you can do is to act now! You may have limited resources in the future or health problems that will prevent you from taking care of the things you can easily take care of today. The Farr Law Firm specializes in long-term care planning and we would be happy to assist you in your preparations. Please visit us at www.virginiaelderlaw.com or call 703-691-1888.

Veterans Aid & Attendance Benefits Increase

Written by Evan Farr

Good news! For the first time since 2008, the Department of Veterans Affairs has announced an increase in maximum  Aid and Attendance benefits available to veterans of the armed forces. These new figures for 2012 reflect a 3.6% cost-of-living adjustment, effective December 1, 2011:

$20,447 per year (~$1,704 per month) for a qualified veteran;
$24,239 per year (~$2,020 per month ) if the veteran is married;
$13,138 per year (~$1,095 per month ) for a surviving spouse of a qualified veteran;
$31,578 per year (~$2,631 per month ) if both spouses are qualified veterans.

What is Veterans Aid & Attendance?

Veterans Aid & Attendance pension benefits are intended to be a form of financial assistance to meet the care needs of veterans and their surviving spouses. If you are younger than age 65, then you must be completely disabled in order to receive this benefit. Those over 65 do not have to be disabled. However, the veteran or spouse must be in need of regular aid and attendance due to: Inability of claimant to dress or undress himself (herself), or to keep himself (herself) ordinarily clean and presentable; frequent need of adjustment of any special prosthetic or orthopedic appliances which by reason of the particular disability cannot be done without aid (this will not include the adjustment of appliances which normal persons would be unable to adjust without aid, such as supports, belts, lacing at the back etc.); inability to feed himself (herself) through loss of coordination of upper extremities or through extreme weakness; inability to attend to the wants of nature; or incapacity, physical or mental, which requires care or assistance on a regular basis to protect the claimant from hazards or dangers incident to his or her daily environment.

It is helpful to note that not all of the disabling conditions in the list above are required to exist. It is only necessary that the evidence establish that the veteran or spouse needs “regular” (scheduled and ongoing) aid and attendance from someone else–not that there be a 24-hour need.

How do I know if I can qualify for Veterans Aid & Attendance Pension Benefits?

You or your spouse must have served on active duty for at least 90 days, at least one day of which occurred during a period designated as wartime (see below). There must have been an honorable discharge as well. Single surviving spouses of such veterans are also eligible.

Periods Designated As Wartime:
World War II — December 7, 1941 through December 31, 1946
Korean Conflict — June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955
Vietnam Era — August 5, 1964 through May 7, 1975; for veterans who served “in country” before August 5, 1964, February 28, 1961 through May 7, 1975
Gulf War — August 2, 1990 through a date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation

If you would like to learn more about the Veterans Aid & Attendance program and how the Farr Law Firm can help you obtain the benefits you deserve, contact us!

If you would like to sign up to receive Evan Farr’s Aid & Attendance 4-Part Mini Series via e-mail, please click here.

Filing a Veterans Aid & Attendance Claim

Happy Memorial Day: Are Additional Aid and Attendance Benefits Around the Corner?

Written by Evan Farr

Fun Memorial Day Facts

The Farr Law Firm wishes you and yours a Happy Memorial Day Weekend!  Monday is Memorial Day, and we would like to take this opportunity to say “Thank You” to our many friends, colleagues, and peers who have made sacrifices to ensure our freedom and principles.

Here are a few fun facts* you may not have known about Memorial Day:

  • Memorial Day was officially declared on May 5th, 1868 by General John Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic.
  • The first state to officially recognize Memorial Day was New York in 1873.
  • Soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place small flags at each of the over 260,000 headstones at Arlington National Cemetery.  This has been taking place since the 1950’s.
  • Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St. Louis place flags on 150,000 burial places at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.
  • You can thank Congress (’71) for your three day weekend.  Memorial Day has been a federal holiday since passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971.
  • In 1988, 2,500 motorcyclists traveled to Washington, D.C. for the first ever Rolling Thunder demonstration.  By 2005, the numbers swelled to a half-million riders.

There is some related news worthy of mention:

The Honoring All Veterans Act of 2011 – introduced yesterday by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) –seeks to improve health care, education, employment, and housing for veterans.  “Our military men and women have kept their promises to our country, and now we must keep faith with them, not only in words but in deeds,” said Blumenthal.

For some couples, aid and attendance benefits may increase.  The Bill passed the House May 23rd and will need to pass the Senate next.   The legislation seems to be on the fast track to becoming law.  GovTrack reports, “the vote was held under a suspension of the rules to cut debate short and pass the bill, needing a two-thirds majority . . . [usually reserved] . . . for non-controversial legislation. The totals were 380 Ayes, 0 Nays.”

The aid and attendance benefit would be increased for disabled veterans who are married to one another.

The Department of Veterans Affairs would gain a new source of key medical personnel through the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU).

The Veterans Administration would seek to remedy substance abuse by using data from state prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP).

An Independent Board would review DOD/VA transition problems including benefits.

“Our nation must keep faith with men and women who serve and sacrifice for our freedom. Unfortunately and unconscionably, America is still failing them and their families by tolerating unemployment, homelessness and inadequate health care,” said Blumenthal.

“This legislation comes from listening to and working with veterans and their families. While the Honoring All Veterans Act addresses many critical needs, it is only an opening salvo in a sustained, unceasing campaign to ensure that no veteran is left behind. It is a down payment on a larger debt,” said Blumenthal, according to politicalnews.me. “Our military men and women have kept their promises to our country, and now we must keep faith with them, not only in words but in deeds.”

*Fun Facts Source(s):

http://www.usmemorialday.org/backgrnd.html

http://articles.cnn.com/2009-05-25/living/mf.holiday.memorial.day_1_decoration-day-organization-of-union-veterans-wreaths-and-flags/3?_s=PM:LIVING

How to Avoid Losing Massive Amounts of Money to a Nursing Home

Written by Evan Farr

Evan H. Farr, CELA

When older adults think of estate planning, many actually have asset protection in mind. What they want is the peace of mind of knowing that the nest egg they’ve been saving for that proverbial “rainy day” will actually be available for them when that rainy day comes. The rainy day, for most people, is when they or their spouse enters a nursing home.  But estate planning and asset protection are two very different fields of law. Estate Planning documents do nothing to achieve asset protection, as Estate planning deals with distribution of assets upon death.  If you wind up going broke in a nursing home before your death, your Estate Plan will wind up being a worthless pile of paper.

These days most older adults use the Revocable Living Trust (RLT) as their primary Estate Planning document in order to minimize delays and expenses and avoid the “nightmare of probate.”  A Last Will and Testament is designed to put your estate into probate – an expensive and complex process that most people want to avoid at all costs.  Although the RLT can achieve this important goal of avoiding probate, a major limitation of the RLT is that it cannot accomplish asset protection. The RLT can’t shield your assets from nursing home expenses.  With the average cost of a nursing home room in the DC Metro area at around $9,000 per year, this is an important limitation of the RLT that every older adult needs to understand.

Is there a living trust that actually does protect assets in contemplation of future nursing home expenses?  Yes. You can protect your assets legally and effectively by using the Living Trust PlusTM (LTP).  As opposed to the RLT which only avoids probate, the LTP is designed to protect your assets from the expenses and complexities of probate PLUS lawsuits PLUS nursing home expenses. The LTP functions very similarly to the RLT and maintains much of the flexibility of the RLT, but in addition to serving as your primary estate planning document, the LTP allows you to actually protect your nest egg from having to be “spent down” to pay for the catastrophic expenses often incurred in connection with nursing home long-term care.

If you’re over the age of 65 and you’ve been holding on to a nest egg for a rainy day, the time to get out the umbrella and protect the nest egg is now, while you’re still relatively healthy and living independently. To find out more, you can sign up yourself and your family to attend a free seminar on the Living Trust PlusTM.

If you are an attorney and are interested in learning how you can offer your clients true asset protection, visit LivingTrustPlus.com and join the dozens of attorneys across the U.S. who have already educated themselves and embraced the LTP!

Top 3 Advancements to Help Seniors Stay at Home: “No Thank You, Nursing Home”

Written by Evan Farr

Evan H. Farr, Certified Elder Law Attorney

“Getting old is not for sissies” goes the quote. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges people face as they age is a seemingly inevitable and impending change to their living situation, whether it be due to health concerns, financial circumstances or both. This feared transition may not be so inevitable after all.  With the right plan, seniors can qualify for Medicaid, take advantage of today’s latest elder care technologies, and protect the assets which otherwise could be drained by the catastrophic costs of long-term care.

Most people are familiar with care options such as In-Home Care, Assisted Living, and Nursing Homes.   But now, a fourth option is gaining popularity: Aging-in-Place . . . a care option that allows individuals to continue living independently in their own home without the need for a live-in caregiver.

TabSafe

Drug compliance is the most common issue for those living alone. For those with memory issues, pill-reminder services and gadgets can issue daily visual and audio alerts to take medication, dispense the correct pills at the right times, and can even send a confirmation message to a caregiver once the medication has been dispensed. If a dosage is missed, an alert is sent to the caregiver and appropriate action can be taken.  The  TabSafe is one such product; you may visit their website here.

Falling is the leading cause of injury and death among those ages 65 and older.[1] For those with a high fall risk, monitoring devices like eNeighbor use unobtrusive sensors to monitor a resident’s daily routine. If the resident were to fall and not be able to get up or reach the phone for help, the device would trigger a phone call to a list of contacts as well as a 24-hour call center.

HomMed Genesis

“Remote monitoring” is an in-home technology that measures vitals such as heart rate, body weight, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels–making it useful to patients with a variety of health concerns, from cardiovascular disease to diabetes.  Check out the HomMed Genesis.

These latest technological advancements are not necessarily cheap.  One of the goals we at the Farr Law Firm seek to accomplish through our Level 4 Planning is to protect assets from the disastrous expenses of long-term care, so that some of those assets can be used to enhance the standard of living with goods and services not covered by government financial assistance, such as the ones I’ve described.  Of course, if Aging-In-Place is not the ideal option for you, we can help you prepare for and decide on your other long-term care options.

If long-term care planning is a relatively new subject area for you or your family, I suggest you take a few moments to watch this segment from the National Business Series.

If you have been contemplating you or a loved-one’s long-term care options, we can provide the solutions that you may be looking for. Achieving long term peace of mind is an invaluable asset that we are honored to assist you with. Please do not hesitate to call us at 1-800-399-FARR to schedule a free, initial consultation.

Images from:
http://www.TabSafe.com
http://www.hommed.com/Products/Genesis_DM.asp
Resources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Farr Law Firm’s Levels of Planning

Required Disclaimer:
*Virginia has no procedure for approving certifying organizations

Alito: VA Should Not Enforce “Rigid” Jurisdictional Requirements Against Veterans

Written by Evan Farr

While it may be true that the Supreme Court is often tasked with the daunting assignment of deciding the most controversial and divisive of issues, last Tuesday’s unanimous ruling was a little different.

Most who are familiar with the facts of Henderson v. Shinseki would probably agree that the decision “felt right;” especially to the elder law attorneys and senior-serving professionals who help U.S. Veterans on a daily basis.

The Court reversed a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals that ruled Veterans Court judges could not extend the deadline to appeal, even when a Veteran’s mental illness procured the delay.

Justice Samuel Alito explained the Courts’ rationale in reversing the decision of the Court of Appeals;

The (Dep’t of Veterans Affairs) is charged with the responsibility of assisting veterans in developing evidence that supports their claims, and in evaluating that evidence, the VA must give the veteran the benefit of any doubt. … Rigid jurisdictional treatment of the 120-day period for filing a notice of appeal in the Veterans Court would clash sharply with this scheme.

For an interesting look at how the case developed in the headlines over the course of the past several months, read the first Washington Post article I referenced late last year, Court hears appeal from veteran who missed deadline, here.  Then, read Supreme Court eases benefit deadline for vets, the recent article from USA Today, available here.  The latter link also includes a photo of the late Mr. Henderson.

Last year I called attention to Henderson on my National Elder Law News Blog, in the article, Veteran Misses Filing Deadline Due to Mental Illness: Fair? a case about a Veteran with Schizophrenia, whose illness prevented him from meeting a deadline imposed by the government.

Mr. Henderson’s lawyer argued in front of the Court that his client’s disability – which developed as a result of years in the service – prevented him (Mr. Henderson) from meeting a deadline to appeal the government’s denial of his request for home care by the Veteran’s Administration.  The argument was that it would be an injustice to strictly enforce the deadline against Mr. Henderson.

Veterans’ disability compensation is paid to Veterans who are injured as a result of their service to the country.  If denied a request for benefits, there are 120 days to file a notice of intent to appeal.  Mr. Henderson was denied home care by the Veteran’s Administration, after which he filed his notice of appeal 15 days late.

The case really boiled down to inquiries of fairness and Congressional intent.  Henderson argued that Congress intended for Veterans to be treated fairly, and that the 120-day time limit was meant to be flexible; a permeable deadline, should the interests of justice require an extension.

The loser in this case (The Secretary of Veterans Affairs) argued that the time period was meant to be strictly applied and that any change to the deadline must come from Congress itself and not from the discretion of the bench (a judge).

Various veterans groups followed this case from its inception.  With the traumatic stress and psychological scars evident in many soldiers who have returned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, groups like the National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates, the National Veterans Foundation, and Paralyzed Veterans of America are undoubtedly happy with how Henderson turned out.

For information on Aid & Attendance benefits, you can check out our Firm’s links to frequently asked questions below:

What Is the Amount of the Aid and Attendance Benefit?

Who Is Eligible for the Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit?


Is Aid and Attendance Only for Low Income Veterans?


How is the Aid and Attendance Benefit Calculated?


Filing a Claim


The Asset Test

Image Credits: Photograph uploaded by FreeDigitalPhotos.net Admin

“The Soldier” by Charles M. Province

Written by Evan Farr

Today I received this piece by Charles M. Province from a colleague.  In honor of all the brave men and women who have served our country, it is my pleasure to pass it on.  Please feel free to email or forward it to your friends and family.

THE SOLDIER

By Charles M. Province

It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.

If you can read this message thank a teacher, If you are reading it in English of your own free will THANK A SOLDIER!

It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.

It is the soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves under the flag, and whose coffin is
draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.

To all the brave men and women who have dedicated or given their lives to protecting this country and it’s freedoms:


GIVE THANKS FOR ALL OF THE VETERANS THAT HAVE GIVEN US THE FREEDOMS WE ENJOY