“My co-worker’s father is a veteran and receives about $700/mo pension from the service as well as a social security check. He is elderly but still able to live on his own. His wife’s health has deteriorated rapidly in the last (6) months and she now requires a great deal of care, is not responsible for bodily functions and has dementia. Do you think there would be any VA benefits available to help with his situation? He was told that because he receives a SS and pension check that he won’t qualify for any benefits or help.”
Answer: I have had this situation in my office before. Because your co-worker’s father already receives the $700 per month, it would not pay for him to seek what are known as “aid and attention” benefits to bring in someone to care for his wife. The $700 would be reduced by the amount of benefits that the VA MIGHT give. Aid and attention benefits are actually called “improved pension benefits.” It does sound like your friend’s wife has long term care needs that would be better served in a skilled nursing facility. Some states have some home care programs that are available, but this could be a “patchwork quilt” that would not offer her appropriate continuity of care. I realize a lot of people hate to do this, but depending upon his situation–eg. the amount of assets he has, whether or not he has made transfers etc. his wife could be eligible for Medicaid either at home (Medicaid Waiver, Personal Care Assistant) or in a skilled facility. I would seriously urge your friend to seek out the services of an Elder Law Attorney in your area.
Susana Lannik, Attorney at Law
Newton, Massachusetts 02458