Veterans benefits can provide more income for a Medicaid recipient’s spouse

Those familiar with veterans benefits for aid and attendance often think of them as a means to pay for care at home or in an assisted living facility.

But did you know A&A benefits can provide extra income for the spouse of someone on Medicaid (at least in Pennsylvania)?

Here’s an example. Suppose John, a wartime veteran with a dependent spouse (Mary), has been receiving the maximum benefit for aid and attendance: $1,949 a month. But John has just moved to a nursing home and qualified for Medicaid.

To understand the effect on John and Mary’s income, you need to know that when a veteran with a dependent spouse receives benefits to help with long term care, those benefits have two components:  (1) a low-income pension, and (2) housebound benefits or aid and attendance benefits.  Veterans benefits are not reduced when the recipient has a dependent (such as a spouse) and later qualifies for Medicaid. Under Pennsylvania’s Medicaid regulations, the “aid and attendance and housebound allowance portion of a veterans benefit” does “not count as income” when determining a Medicaid recipient’s income. 55 Pa. Code § 181.81(9).

In John’s case, his veterans benefit of $1,949 a month breaks down into a low-income pension of $1,290, and aid and attendance benefits of $659. He can continue to receive benefits because of Mary, his dependent spouse.

Because the $659 aid and attendance benefit does not count as income, he can give it to Mary each month because it does not count as his income for Medicaid purposes. Mary receives this additional $659 a month in addition to all other income she would be getting.

What’s more, if John and Mary are both low income, some of the pension amount ($1,290) could also go to Mary as part of a monthly maintenance needs allowance permitted under Medicaid provisions. Whatever Mary doesn’t receive from the pension will go to the nursing home to help pay for John’s cost of care.

When your spouse is on Medicaid, an extra $659 a month or more can make quite a difference in your quality of life.

VA benefits for healthy vet with ill spouse – a little known secret

It’s well known that veterans benefits for aid and attendance will help pay for long term care needed by a wartime veteran, or the widow or widower of one.

But what about Jane, who needs care in an assisted living facility and is married to Bill, a World War II veteran? Any help available there?

Quite possibly, yes!

It’s a little known fact that when a veteran is over the age of 65, the VA will presume a veteran is disabled for purposes of qualifying for a benefit known as the “low income pension.” If Bill qualifies for the full benefit amount – $1,291 a month – that extra will go a long way toward paying the cost of Jane’s care.

Bill should apply if: (1) he meets the usual requirements for low income pension benefits (modest household assets, other than dishonorable discharge, etc.), and (2) cost of care exceeds household income.

Even if household income is greater than the cost of care, but not by more than $1,291, it may still be worth their while to apply for partial benefits.