You call into the VA about your father or mother and ask about the Pension benefits that you have heard about.
The very first thing the operator/gatekeeper at the VA will ask is “What is their yearly income?”
When you respond, you will almost always be told that is too much and your parents don’t qualify.
Here’s the problem — the script is wrong. It is not “income” that is the issue — it is something known as IVAP.
IVAP means “Income for Veteran Administration Purposes”.
What does this mean?
You take the “gross household income” and subtract the out of pocket medical expenses to get the IVAP.
Then we compare the IVAP with the amount of pension benefits.
Many veterans may have a household income of $50,000 or $60,000 but their out of pocket medical expense is such that they have a negative IVAP and may be entitled to several thousands of dollars of benefits.
Benefits they would not have been able to receive by just accepting the “surface level” analysis of gross income only.
Here’s an example. A couple makes about $84,000 a year.
The VA says “That’s too much. You don’t qualify.” This was five years ago.
The son called a lawyer who is knowledgeable about this and asks what can be done.
The lawyer says “What are the medical expenses that are unreimbursed?”
Well, the father is in a nursing home at $7500 a month. No medicaid as too much in assets.
The IVAP is negative just with the nursing home. Ignoring all other expenses.
So this veteran and his wife, after some proper planning on the asset side, qualified to get over $2000 a month.
Going back five years — which you can’t recover — but this veteran and his wife have missed out on around $24,000 a year for five years. $120,000 in the past five years. This money can never be recovered but going forward this veteran will be taken care of.
This is why it is critical to speak with a lawyer who knows the laws and regulations so you can understand the options — don’t just rely on what the gatekeeper at the VA says. Find out for yourself.
If you live in Alabama and have questions about this benefit for you or your spouse or your parents, please let us know by calling us at 205-879-2447 or you can fill out a contact form on our Alabama Consumer site. Do note we are creating a separate site just for this area of the law in Alabama but it is not up and running yet so feel free to give us a call at 205-879-2447.