Articles Posted in Elder Law

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A “look back” period is where a government program or benefit looks back five years to see if you gave away any assets or money. If you did, and you are now seeking this government benefit, you may be ineligible or face a penalty.

Medicaid has this 5 year look back period which is a very serious matter.

The VA has no look back period. There are always rumblings that one will be established but as of right now there is no such period.

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One difference in the VA Pension (or aid and attendance) and Alabama Medicaid is in where the money (the benefits) can be spent or used.

With Alabama Medicaid, the money can only go towards care in medicaid eligible facilities. The money is paid directly to the facility by Medicaid. We are talking about nursing homes when we speak of long term care under Alabama Medicaid.

With the VA pension benefits for wartime veterans (or surviving spouses) who are either over 65 or 100% disabled (non service related), the benefits can be used anywhere. Any assisted living facility, home health, etc.

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Often veterans in assisted living facilities look at their money and decide to “skimp” on the true care they need. Assisted living facilities will tell veterans and their families “We need to get your father or mother more care” but since the money is not there, or it is dwindling steadily (or even quickly), this needed care is rejected.

Parents don’t want to burden their children.

Children who love their parents are looking at their own (often) unstable financial situation and wondering what will they do when mom’s money runs out and she still needs care.

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For veterans living in assisted living facilities (or who expect to be), one of their greatest fears is running out of money and being forced to move into a nursing home paid for by Medicaid.

If you are in this situation (or your parents are), then this is the fear that keeps you up at night.

Unlike some of our fears, this is a reasonable fear.

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Sometimes veterans, or surviving spouses, are reluctant to accept the Pension money (also called Aid & Attendance or Disability funds) because they don’t want “charity” or something they did not earn.

But you did earn the money.

As Abraham famously said on March 4, 1865, “the debt owed to America’s veterans is to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and for his orphan.”

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Most counties have someone who is to help veterans and these good folks are normally trained by the VA.

But unfortunately sometimes these folks don’t even know about the VA Pension disability benefits.

Even some of the Veteran Service Organizations (American Legion, VFW, etc) don’t know about it or don’t know how to properly advise veterans.

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No. There is no penalty period (sometimes called a “look back”) for gifting any excess assets to family members or to a trust. This differs, in ways, from Medicaid which does have a five year look back period to see if you gave up any assets.

The VA does prohibit transferring assets to a dependent as the dependents income and assets will be considered the veteran’s income and assets.

The VA only looks at what are your assets as of the date of the application.

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To receive VA Pension payments for being disabled, or over the age of 65, or a surviving spouse of a wartime veteran, the VA looks at your “Income for Veterans Administration Purposes” (IVAP) and your net worth.

The net worth, for VA purposes, does not include:

1. Your home (regardless of value);

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