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Veterans Benefits Planning

Requirements for VA Benefits Eligibility

There are several requirements to be eligible for Veterans Administration (“VA”) Benefits, and there are a number of different VA Benefits programs. This firm focuses on the planning aspects of VA Benefits prior to eligibility and primarily deals primarily with Aid & Attendance benefits, therefore, this page will focus on the VA Aid & Attendance Benefits and how to determine eligibility for those benefits.

In assessing the eligibility of a potential VA applicant, you must answer the following questions:

First:  Is the applicant a wartime veteran or the surviving spouse of a wartime veteran?   If so, did the veteran serve at least one day of active duty during an eligible wartime period?

A full listing of eligible wartime dates can be found at the Veterans Administration website by linkinghere.  World Wars I and II, Korean War, Vietnam War, and the Gulf War are all eligible wartime periods.

Second:  Does the veteran or surviving spouse require assistance from another person with his or her activities of daily living.  Or, does the applicant live in a nursing home; are they bedridden; or do they have limited eyesight?

The types of activities that specifically qualify as activities of daily living by the VA definition, include: bathing, feeding, dressing, toileting/incontinence, adjusting prosthetic devices and protecting the veteran or spouse from the hazards of your daily environment.

Third:  Does the veteran or spouse pay more in unreimbursed medical expenses each month than they receive in income?

The VA has a very broad definition of unreimbursed medical expenses; however, the general rule is that the veteran or spouse must show that all of his/her income is being consumed by medical expenses.  Medical expenses can include caretaker expenses in the home, home healthcare workers, cost of assisted living facility who provides the services, and skilled nursing cost.  Other expenses may include the cost of prescriptions, if they are shown to recur every month, and cost of insurance premiums.

Fourth:  Does the veteran or spouse have limited resources?

Generally, when the Veterans Administration caseworker reviews the application, they will assess the likelihood that the available resources of the veteran or spouse are going to last the remainder of his/her life.  Similar to Medicaid, certain assets can be excluded, such as the family home that the veteran or spouse is living in.   Unlike Medicaid that has strict asset limits, the VA will assess each applicant on a case by case basis and apply a formula to determine whether the applicant is entitled to the benefit.


Our firm can discuss with you all of the options for VA benefits if the veteran or spouse applicant meets the first criteria and either they are, or they will likely need in the future, help with their activities of daily living.  The planning techniques vary on the circumstances of each client, and we will often plan for veterans benefits with an eye on Medicaid benefits in the future.  The rules of each program are so different that both benefit programs, as well as other possible benefits programs, must be considered at the same time.  A plan can be devised to accommodate several different benefits programs simultaneously.   Often, a “VA Protection Trust” can be created to help a client qualify for Veterans Benefits in the short-term and Medicaid benefits after five years, but this type of trust should not be used in all circumstances.