Arizona Veteran’s Asset and Income Protection Planning

Sources from the Arizona VA state that as much as 47 percent of the population is in some way eligible for veteran’s benefits in Arizona.  Nevertheless, the VA denies a disproportionate number of veterans who apply for these benefits.  And denial is almost always detrimental to veterans, their spouses and their dependents that need help paying for healthcare.

What is the Veteran’s Pension?

The Veteran’s Pension is paid to veterans, their spouses and their dependents.  As a benefit program, Pension is only available to veterans who meet eligibility requirements.   The VA bases a veteran’s pension amount on income and whether he has dependents.  Generally speaking, veterans with less net income and more dependents qualify for a greater pension amount.

Who is eligible for the Veteran’s Pension?

The Veteran’s Pension is not an entitlement program, so not every veteran qualifies for the benefit.  Rather, only veterans who meet eligibility requirements qualify for Pension.  Veterans must first satisfy the following general criteria:

  • The veteran must have been discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions.
  • The veteran must have served at least 90 days of active military service, one day of which during a war time period.
  • The veteran must be age 65 or older, or permanently and totally disabled.

Veterans who satisfy the general requirements must also meet financial tests to qualify for Pension.  The VA does not award Pension to veterans with “excessive” net worth.  Also, the VA only awards Pension to veterans with a low net income, the specific amount of which depends on the applicant’s living situation.  Veterans should prepare for the financial tests by arranging their affairs before submitting an application with the VA.

Does the VA provide assistance above and beyond Veteran’s Pension to veterans who require additional support?

Veteran’s Pension helps many veterans, but it may not be enough when expensive medical bills are involved.  Veterans whose medical bills necessitate additional financial assistance may be eligible for Housebound and Aid & Attendance benefits.  Qualifying for these benefits increases a veteran’s Pension award quite substantially.

Housebound and Aid & Attendance benefits are designed to help veterans pay for long-term healthcare.  To qualify for these benefits, applicants must demonstrate a medical need for the additional support; generally only those who require a caregiver’s assistance are eligible.  Despite a common misconception, even veterans who are not low-income earners can qualify for this benefit.  The VA only looks at net income, so high-income earners can qualify for both Pension and Aid & Attendance benefits if they are medically eligible and have costly medical expenses.

How does a Veteran apply for the Housebound and Aid & Attendance benefits?

Veterans whose medical condition necessitates additional financial support can apply for the Housebound and Aid & Attendance benefits when they apply for the Veteran’s Pension.  Veterans whose health deteriorates after they begin receiving Pension can apply for the additional support at any time, but they must prove their health condition to qualify.  They should give the VA a written physician’s report that details the exact nature of their medical issues.  This report should illustrate the veteran’s difficulty tending to activities of daily living, and should also describe any mobility issues the veteran has.  The VA denies benefits to veterans who do not provide enough health information, so physicians should be as detailed as possible in their reports.

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