Law & Legal & Attorney Military

Widowed Spouse Aid and Attendance Benefit - What You Aren"t Being Told

We are going to talk about a non-service connected disability benefit for the widowed spouse of a war-time veteran.
  Primarily these will be widowed spouses of veterans who served during the period of WWII, Korea and Vietnam.
Hundreds of thousands of veteran's widows do not know about this VA benefit.
  They mistakenly believe that their deceased spouse who was the veteran needed to have seen or been in combat.
  They are often told that the veteran needed to be wounded or killed in action to be eligible for any VA benefits.
These are all false! The veteran needed to be on active duty for at least one day during the "official" time of WWII (12/7/1941 - 12/31/1946), Korea (6/27/09 - 1/31/1955) and Vietnam (8/5/1964 - 5/7/1975) and served at least 90 days of total active duty.
The eligible arms of service are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and for WWII the ocean-going Merchant Marine civil service crew-member.
  The veteran must have been discharged under honorable conditions to be eligible.
The VA's widowed spouse aid and attendance benefit can provide up to $1,057 per month in financial assistance if certain qualification criteria are met.
  And, the veteran being killed or wounded in action is not one of them! This VA aid and attendance benefit typically increases every December based on the governments cost of living index used by Social Security.
 Basically, that is the VA aid and attendance benefit will change by the same percentage that Social Security changes their benefit.
Unfortunately, for 2010 there is wide speculation that there will be no cola increase in the benefits.
Lets look at how a widowed spouse of a war-time veteran can get this VA aid and attendance benefit: First, the time of service we discussed earlier.
Second, the widowed spouse needs to no longer be able to safely drive a vehicle.
  (That means no driving) Third, your private doctor needs to document on a medical evaluation form that there exists the need for assistance of another individual for activities of daily living.
  These are common tasks such as grooming, dressing, bathing, hygiene, needs of nature, eating, etc.
  Someone suffering from dementia, blindness or is wheelchair bound will also qualify.
Fourth, liquid assets should be below $80,000.
  The older the widowed spouse is, the lower this amount should be.
  Liquid assets include cash, stocks, bonds, IRA's, money market accounts, 401k accounts, annuity funds, U.
savings bonds, certificate of deposits and mutual funds.
  The primary home, personal property and a vehicle does not count as liquid assets.
  If there is a second home or collectible item(s) of significant market value, these would count as liquid assets.
  The good news is that presently the VA allows transfers of assets without any exclusion or look-back penalty.
Finally, the amount of VA benefit that the widowed spouse is eligible to receive monthly is determined by calculating what the VA calls the "countable income".
  This essentially is total household income from all sources including dividends and interest minus qualified medical and care expenses.
The VA has a very specific list of items that they will allow to be subtracted against the income to arrive at the countable income they will use for eligibility and qualification.
  Many expenses people want to use are not recognized by the VA as qualified expenses.
  The sad fact is that the VA does not make the process of learning about this widowed spouse aid and attendance benefit easy to do, nor do they make the application process easy to understand.
  Luckily, help is available from various sources.
Make sure you, your mom, dad or grandparents know about this widowed spouse aid and attendance benefit available from the VA.

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