payment of aide by children vs. by veteran

Discussion in 'Eligibility Questions' started by Knolls67, Apr 22, 2017.

  1. Knolls67

    Knolls67 Newbie

    I have just filed an intent to file a claim for aid and attendance benefits for my 92-year old dad. He lives with my 82-year old mom and their only income is social security, and they have less than $10k in their joint bank account and no other assets. Their children are currently paying for a caregiver of about 2,500/month for my dad only for daily needs that should qualify for the types of services aid and attendance benefits cover. We also voluntarily supplement their income in addition to paying for the aide to help them get by. Should my parents start to pay the caregiver from their joint bank account so that they can count that as an expense? And if so, is it okay that it is their joint bank account and my mom signs the checks to the caregiver? Also, if they do that, does any money that we then voluntarily give them to help them pay for their other monthly expenses, such as food, utilities, other living expenses, etc, count as income then or not? Their social security income is not enough to cover their living expenses and the cost of the aide. Also, this may be a dumb question, but I assume that my mother's social security income is also counted towards the total income since they live together even though the benefits are for my dad only? Thanks for your help.
     
  2. Kaylin

    Kaylin Hero Member Staff Member

    Hello!

    Yes, your parents need to be the ones actually paying for the care in order to apply for the A&A benefit. Yes, it can be a joint account - the VA counts the household income and care expenses as a whole. Any additional income you provide to them is counted as "countable income" by the VA.

    Unfortunately many veteran families are stuck in this situation where they have to show the need for care in order to even qualify for the VA by paying for it - but they don't even have enough money to do so AND pay for living expenses.

    A good formula to think of is: Total monthly care expenses - total monthly income = X
    If X is in the negative then your parents are showing a need for the A&A benefit. If the income exceeds the monthly care expenses then there will not be a way to show need for the A&A benefit.

    Yes, your mother's SS income is counted towards their total monthly income. Best of luck and please come back with any questions you may have!
     
  3. Knolls67

    Knolls67 Newbie

    Thank you for your reply. I do not understand your second sentence regarding many veteran families are stuck in this situation. What is the solution then if you are stuck in that situation? How can someone be paying for the caretaker and also not be able to pay for the caretaker at the same time? How could that ever be possible? can you give me an example of how that can work or what we need to do then to deal with that situation.

    Also, regarding the formula Total monthly care expenses - total monthly income = x and x is negative. Does that mean that if my parents' combined total monthly social security income is not enough to cover the monthly caretaker expenses then that would show a need for the benefit?Are any other medical expenses considered as part of the care expenses, such as medicines, or supplemental health insurance premiums that they pay? And how could that be possible, if all money went towards the caregiver, then there would be nothing left for any living expenses? I feel like I am missing something here. Can you give me an example of a how a veteran qualifies then. Thanks.
     
  4. Kaylin

    Kaylin Hero Member Staff Member

    The problem lies in the fact that this benefit is built for low-income veterans and their spouses who require senior care. But senior care can be expensive. And the only way to qualify for the benefit is to currently be paying for care. See the issue there? There are many things that can happen in this situation where a veteran or spouse has hardly any income to pay for care each month to begin with. One thing I'd like to point out that can help this situation is when submitting the complete application one can request that the processing of the application be expedited due to financial hardship faced by the veteran and/or spouse.

    If your parents' total monthly income exceeds how much they are paying for care each month then the VA will likely say they do not need assistance with paying for care. The VA looks at where the deficit is when a veteran and/or spouse is paying for care vs. what they are taking in for income each month and how much they have in assets. If there is an obvious shortfall to pay those monthly care expenses then they are much more likely to award the benefit.

    I hope that helps to clear things up?...
     
  5. Knolls67

    Knolls67 Newbie

    I see the problem, just not any solution. I don't see how anyone could ever qualify. How can anyone could be paying for the care if they do not have enough funds to pay for the care? So can you give me an example of how that might work? do they borrow money for their food and other expenses? Is that permitted? Since they must be paying for the care with all of their income, then how do they pay for their other expenses? It's not just a matter of financial hardship. It would be impossible to be using all of one's income for a caregiver, unless someone else is paying for their living expenses. Even if the application were "expedited" that would not help, as what it sounds like is during this process they are not permitted to have any income above the cost of the care expenses. How can that be possible? When doing the application aren't any other expenses taken into account besides care expenses? If a couple has have 2500 in SS income per month and pays 2500 for care per month, that would not seem to be a true statement that anyone could make, unless their other living expenses are being paid for by another. But if another was paying for their living expenses, wouldn't that disqualify them for benefits? I don't understand how anyone could ever qualify.
     
  6. Matt375

    Matt375 Jr. Member

    Well to answer your last question technically no. The VA is not looking at living expenses for the Pension, they are only concerned with medical expenses being paid by the Claimant. It is an unfortunate Catch-22 of the Pension, that in order to receive the pension they need to pay for the care they need but they cannot afford the care they need so they don't qualify for the pension. Essentially the spirit of the program is to be using your assets while waiting for the VA to decide. However, in the cases of veterans not having the means to provide their own care they get stuck. If their assets are that low and they need the care you are describing, it sounds like they are in need of Medicaid more than the Pension.
     
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  7. Knolls67

    Knolls67 Newbie

    So by get stuck you mean do not qualify for benefits because they do not have enough assets to live on while waiting to qualify? This catch-22 does not seem to make any sense. It also doesn't seem right that veterans and their spouses should have to spend down all of the little assets that they have while waiting to qualify. Are there any efforts underway to remedy this catch-22 through legislation or otherwise? I am not sure if they would qualify for Medicaid, but they have medicare coverage so they are not in need of Medicaid. Also, isn't it true that neither Medicare or Medicaid covers in home services for personal care like that covered by A & A benefits, but only covers skilled nursing care? Can they borrow money from family members in the meantime or would borrowed funds be considered "countable income"? What documents do they have to provide to the VA to show their "countable income"? Thank you very much for your assistance.
     
  8. Knolls67

    Knolls67 Newbie

    Also, I found online an organization called Veterans Care Coordination which says that it has an interest free loan program which allows care to begin while waiting for benefits to be approved. It says they fund the cost of care through an interest free loan and when benefits are reimbursed by the VA then you pay Veterans Care coordination back for your care cost. Are you familiar with this? So can a veteran borrow the money from a family member to be able to afford benefits? Thanks.
     
  9. Matt375

    Matt375 Jr. Member

    Well that is the spirit of the program to stretch out the veterans personal assets for care until Medicaid can take over their care. The Pension is not meant to protect or build up their assets. I know that it doesn't make sense, the veteran really needs the care, but can't afford it, so they are not paying for the care, thus the medical expenses do not make them eligible for pension. You are correct no in-home service are covered by either Medicare/Medicaid as far as I know, they would most likely end up in a facility.

    I have heard of similar organizations that loan money for care based on VA benefits. I have not read enough of the fine print to see if they are legitimately trying to help or just looking to make a buck off the backs of veterans. The only caveat to that I see is the income would have to be reported to the VA and then the medical expense would be deducted but it would also show that the medical expense is being covered by the veterans own "income". Thus it would appear to the VA that the veteran would have the necessary funds to provide their own care. To receive the pension essentially you need to show a negative balance on the income due to medical costs. If that income is only reduced to zero there is no deficit for the VA to make up. Unless you would be able to provide a lump sum of money (so it can be counted in assets not income) to provide for the care while awaiting a potential pension award I'm not sure how to make it work. Which is what I believe the loan programs essentially do.

    I understand and empathize with your frustrations in all of this as it can turn into a fiasco when all you are trying to do is make sure that your parents are taken care of.
     
  10. Knolls67

    Knolls67 Newbie

    1. So if we were to loan them a lump sum of money by depositing a lump sum of money into their bank account, that would be considered an asset not income?
    2. What documents do they have to provide to the VA to show their "countable income?"
     
  11. Matt375

    Matt375 Jr. Member

    Correct it would then be a countable asset not income but be careful when looking to recoup that as the VA pension is for them. Any repayment should come from other sources of income instead of the pension. As far as countable income that just gets reported on the application. There isn't anything else that needs to be submitted to them unless the VA asks for it.
     
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