VA Benefits Basics, Part 2

The Process for a Successful VA Benefits Claim.    

  1.  Update the Estate Plan

We always review and update a client’s estate planning documents.  The reason for this is that most veterans and their surviving spouses need to have well drafted powers of attorney in place and/or need to set up a Asset Protection Trust.  Having these estate planning documents in order sets the foundation for a successful VA Benefits claim.

  1.  Fund the Veterans Asset Protection Trust

If an Asset Protection Trust is created, the next step is to fund the trust.  This means change ownership and beneficiary designations of the assets to name the Asset Protection Trust either as an owner or a beneficiary of the asset to get under the VA Benefits asset test. This step must be completed before an application for VA benefits is submitted.

  1.  File the Formal Application

Once all the documents are gathered and the application is finalized, it can be submitted to the VA.  Typically, once the VA gets the full application, it takes about 3-5 months before they approve the application and they release the pension amount.

Common Problems with a VA Benefit Application

There are some common problems that families need to watch for when preparing a VA application:

Satisfaction of at Least 3 ADLs.  Activities of daily living (ADLs) include getting out of bed, going the bathroom, bathing, taking medications, getting dressed and preparing a meal.  For a successful VA Benefit claim it is important to need assistance with at least 3 ADLs.

Doctor forms and caregiver forms need to be completed thoroughly. The Physician form, outlining that the claimant needs assistance, needs to be thorough.  In short, the form needs to show that the claimant needs help.

LTC Expenses need to exceed income by 5%.  To receive the maximum VA Benefit, a veteran or surviving spouse needs to have their income exceeded by their long-term care expenses by at least 5%.  If the veteran does not have their income exceeded by their long-term care expenses, then their benefit will be reduced.

If you know a veteran who could benefit from extra income to cover their care costs, please contact our office to arrange an appointment.