Define: Household Income

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ThelmaLou, Aug 1, 2016.

  1. ThelmaLou

    ThelmaLou Newbie

    Hi, and thanks for adding me to the group! Like other newbies, I've read through many posts and learned so much already. However, I can't seem to find a definitive answer to my questions. I hope someone here can help.

    My 84-year old widowed aunt has already been approved for A&A, and has begun receiving monthly checks of just over $1000. At the time they filed through our local VA office, my cousin (we'll call her Mary Grace) had already taken on the responsibility of caring for her mother, staying with her except when she worked, but still maintaining her own residence, a small apartment shared with a roommate. Mary Grace is self-employed, but has lost most of her clients this year and hasn't tried to replace them, due to her mother's needs. She receives a salary of $1200 a month from her mother, plus about $250 a month on her own. They've worked out an arrangement in which Mary Grace uses her $250 to buy groceries for she and her mother; she needs the remainder of her money to pay her insurance, medicines, etc, as well as her share of the rent and utilities at her own apartment.

    The lease at Mary Grace's apartment is due for renewal next month, and her roommate is planning to move out. Since Mary Grace can't afford the apartment on her own and rarely spends time there anyway, she'll officially move in with her mother, whose own lease will come up for renewal around the same time.

    Mary Grace has no computer for research, but she called the local VA office and was told that if she moves in, her income will be counted as part of the "household income," thereby reducing her mother's benefit. I read a similar scenario on another website, but I'm sure I read somewhere, maybe on this forum (?), that the caregiver's income is not counted as part of the household. Can anyone clarify this? And if it is counted, is the salary she receives as a caregiver included, or is it only what she makes outside of the caregiver role?

    Also, how and when do we notify the VA of the change, if any notification is necessary?

    Thanks in advance to anyone who may be able to help!
  2. Kaylin

    Kaylin Hero Member Staff Member

    ThelmaLou, great question.

    Since Mary Grace is not the spouse of your aunt then the VA will not count this as combined income, especially since she is the caregiver. They will look at what total assets your aunt has, her monthly income, and her care expenses. You would only notify the VA of any changes in expenses, like if your aunt had started to pay Mary Grace more per month as an example. If you ever need to notify the VA of any changes, however, you would use Statement in Support of Claim form 21-4138 with any supporting documents like bank statements.
  3. ThelmaLou

    ThelmaLou Newbie


    Thank you ever so much! We all appreciate your input and confirmation.

    Your example reminds me of something else we've been considering. Some in the family feel that Mary Grace initially set herself an insufficient salary. (She had originally asked for only $800 per month, but eventually agreed that the care she provided was far more valuable.) Let's face it, if we hired someone to do everything Mary Grace does for her mother, it would cost a small fortune. We're now recognizing a critical factor that we feel must be taken into consideration: Mary Grace is putting her life on hold to care for her mother, losing her own residence and job, and should be compensated accordingly.

    Based on the fact that when the inevitable time comes that the benefits cease and Mary Grace will essentially have to "start over," her mother is in favor of increasing Mary Grace's salary. Naturally, the A&A amount would increase, and that makes them both uncomfortable.

    Is this a justifiable reason to increase Mary Grace's salary by $200 per month, or is it totally unethical?
    Kaylin likes this.
  4. Kaylin

    Kaylin Hero Member Staff Member

    I think that seems pretty logical to me. If I were in that situation I would highly consider it. And you're quite welcome!
  5. ThelmaLou

    ThelmaLou Newbie

    Thank you again! Kaylin, you've been a tremendous help!
    Kaylin likes this.

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