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While remembering Veterans who have passed, we can also honor those who are still with us. We can make sure that they get their full benefits. We can protect them from being defrauded by some trust mill or talked into doing something which will make them ineligible for Medicaid later on.

An elder law attorney knowledgeable about both Veteran’s and Medicaid benefits can help. For more on how, visit: VA and Medicaid Planning: Why Use an Elder Lawyer

Many people are surprised to find that they, or their spouse or parent, qualifies for VA benefits. VA “improved pension” or Aid and Attendance benefits are important both for people who live at home and for people who live in an assisted living facility. Medicaid does not pay for assisted living. VA Aid and Attendance does.

To qualify, a person must have served for at least one day during a period of war, other than in basic training, and have had an other than dishonorable discharge. Even a general discharge will do.

Like Medicaid, VA Aid and Attendance has income and asset limits and a “look back” period, during which property which has been transferred will count against the applicant. But these are different from those for Medicaid as is the medical necessity requirement.

Income for VA purposes is income less unreimbursed medical expenses to the extent that these exceed the maximum annual pension rate. In 2021, the maximum annual pension rate for a single vet is $23,238; for a married vet, $27,549. Because the entire assisted living fee is generally included, most people qualify based on income.

Assets exclude the home and up two acres. Assets do include retirement accounts, whether or not in payout status, and one year’s income. In 2021 this cannot exceed $130,773.

Medical necessity consists in not being able to perform at least two Activities of Daily Life without substantial assistance or in it being hazardous for you to remain at home.

Many people who enter an assisted limited facility using VA Aid and Attendance eventually need nursing home care and, for that, Medicaid. Be sure that nothing you do to qualify for Aid and Attendance later disqualifies you for nursing home Medicaid.


Elder law attorney, Terry Garrett, is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is an Approved Guardianship Attorney. She assists people in elder law, estate and special needs planning, guardianship and settling estates. She graduated with honors from Cornell University. She was on the Dean’s List at Wharton Business School. She earned her J.D. at Columbia Law School, receiving the Parker Award and a Mellon Fellowship.

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