Topics Discussed and Key Points:
- A primer on the VA’s Pension Benefit
- Potential amounts that veterans and/or their spouses can avail of with the VA Benefit
- Assets and other factors that count toward eligibility for the VA Benefit
- The time it takes to receive the VA Benefit
- The role of annuities
- How senior living operators are leveraging the Benefit and where they can improve
In today’s episode, Debbie speaks with Patty Servaes, a VA accredited agent and the founder of Elder Resource Benefits Consulting. ERBC was founded in 2005 to help seniors navigate different benefits that are available to them. Their specialty is the VA’s Basic Pension with Aid and Attendance Benefits. The company focuses on veterans getting the VA’s Pension Benefit as quickly as possible as soon as they are eligible for it.
“This is not a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ Benefit,” says Patty. “It’s ‘if’ and ‘when’.” She explains the VA Benefit through the image of a staircase, having three main criteria that build on each other: “Did you serve in a period of war?”; “Do you meet the medical criteria?”; and “Do you meet the financial criteria?”
It is critical for a U.S. veteran—Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard—to know the “if” and the “when” so that they do not miss even a month’s worth of the Benefit. In 2020, a surviving spouse can get up to $1228 per month, tax free. A single veteran can get up to $1911 per month. A well veteran with an ill spouse can get up to $1500 per month. A married veteran where the veteran himself needs care can get up to $2266 per month. Patty goes into detail about which assets and other factors count toward eligibility for the Benefit.
In evaluating a veteran’s eligibility for the VA Benefit, ERBC looks at their income and assets to be able to tell exactly when they would be able to qualify. They also give advice on what they can legally do with the money, such as paying down a car loan or prepaying their funeral. Patty, however, does not recommend the latter. Rather, she suggests having the VA reimburse the funeral costs after the funeral itself. “I really like holding the VA’s feet to the fire and making sure that, if at all possible, we get that VA money to the claimant or, in the event of their death, to the assisted living or to the family.”
Phone: (508) 485-0039