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47 Secret VA Benefits

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47 Secret VA Benefits

  1. 1. THE HILBUN LAW FIRM, P.C.Physical Address: Mailing Address: Phone: 281 955-929221840 N.W. Frwy, Ste. C 12218 Jones Road, Suite D - 203 Fax: 281 955-9922Cypress, Texas 77429 Houston, Texas 77070 hilbunlaw@gmail.comElizabeth S. Hilbun Rebecca L. GrohmannBoard Certified - Estate Planning and Probate LawTexas Board of Legal Specialization 47 SECRET Veteran Benefits for SeniorsPENSION 1. Senior citizen veterans or their surviving dependents can receive up to $2,020 per month ($24,240 per year) (as of 2012) in tax free income through the Improved Pension" benefit. a. 3 levels of Improved Pension are 1) Low Income Pension; 2) Pension with Housebound; and 3) Pension with Aid and Attendance 2. You can qualify for a VA pension even if your income exceeds the maximum limit because you are allowed to deduct certain expenses from your gross income BEFORE comparing income to the limit. 3. Recurring, out of pocket medical expenses of BOTH the veteran and the spouse are deductible expenses to qualify for VA pension (i.e. premiums, prescriptions, doctors visits, travel to and from doctors visits, home health care, assisted living facility care and nursing home care). Page 1 of 8
  2. 2. 4. The money paid to a family caregiver, as long as it is not the veterans spouse, can be a deductible medical expense. 5. The entire cost for an assisted living facility for BOTH the veteran and the spouse is a deductible expense. 6. You can qualify for a VA pension even if your assets (net worth) exceed the limit. 7. Trained attorneys who know VA laws and who are accredited by the VA can assist you in preserving the assets you have while also obtaining the pension. 8. If the veteran is 65 years or older, the VA presumes disability, it does not have to be proven. 9. If the veteran is deceased and the surviving spouse is applying for Low Income Pension, the spouse can be of ANY age and does NOT have to be disabled. 10. Pension with Aid and Attendance is easier to obtain than Housebound benefits. 11. A veteran who is healthy but has a spouse who is disabled CAN receive Low Income Pension.SERVICE CONNECTED DISABILITY COMPENSATION 12. If you are in the military and you are injured, whether you are working or not, it is considered to be in the line of duty as long as your injury is not from your own willful misconduct or abuse of alcohol or drugs. 13. Entitlement to service connected compensation is not barred by the veterans employment. Page 2 of 8
  3. 3. 14. A 0% service connected disability rating still gives you priority in the VA health care system.15. A 30% or higher rating will pay you a higher amount of money if you have a spouse or dependents.16. A 70% or higher rating will allow a claimant to reside in a federal VA nursing home, usually at no charge.17. When rated at 100% disability or if rated as unemployable, you will receive the highest rating and the highest pay, and you are also entitled to the aid and attendance" supplement to compensation (not to be confused with the Aid and Attendance Pension benefit) if you need another person to help with activities of daily living (walking, bathing, dressing, toileting, etc.).18. Service connected disability compensation is not barred or reduced if you have other income (i.e. from working. Social Security, etc.).19. The level of your assets (net worth) does not matter for service connected disability compensation.20. VA compensation is tax free income.21. Surviving spouses and dependents of service connected disabled veterans can file a claim for benefits too (called "death" claims).22. The veteran and the surviving spouse did NOT have to be married to each other while the veteran was in the military or when the veteran was injured; just married at least one year prior to veterans death and not separated at death. Page 3 of 8
  4. 4. 23. If a veteran dies while the VA claim is pending, the surviving spouse can continue to pursue the veterans own claim for benefits AND the spouse can make an independent claim for death benefits. 24. Veterans who served in Vietnam anytime between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975, and later developed illnesses or diseases are PRESUMED to have been exposed to Agent Orange and thus, have a service connected disability. 25. You didnt have to serve in Vietnam to have a presumptive illness. 26. If you were diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis a.k.a. Lou Gherrigs Disease while on active duty or within one year from your date of discharge, your disease is presumed to be service connected.APPLICATION PROCESS FOR PENSION 27. You can file your application through the Fast Track System to expedite your claim. 28. The claimant must personally sign the application form; not the POA. A witness is required when signing with an "X." 29. Use the VAs own "representation" forms (VA Form 21-22 or VA Form 21-22a) NOT a privately drafted POA. 30. Do NOT give the VA original verification documents (i.e. discharge papers, birth certificates, marriage licenses, etc.); you wont get them back. Page 4 of 8
  5. 5. 31. You must submit certified copies of all death certificates or divorce decrees from all prior marriages of both the veteran and the current spouse.32. The VA is required to expedite an application for benefits if the claimant is receiving Hospice care.VA HEALTH CARE BENEFITS33. You can continue to use your own doctor.34. Some private nursing homes - likely in your own community - have a federal VA contract (distinguished from federal VA homes or state VA homes).35. Some federal VA nursing homes, and some private nursing homes with a VA contract will admit veterans for care even if the veteran does not meet the service connected disability requirements Oust based on whether a bed is available).36. Veterans (but not spouses or other dependents) can obtain their prescriptions from the VA for $9 or less for a 30 day supply.37. Elderly veterans can receive Extended Care Services from the VA which can delay the premature need to move to an assisted living or nursing home environment.38. Only Veterans (not spouses or other dependents) can access the VA health care system. Page 5 of 8
  6. 6. BURIAL BENEFITS 39. Veterans and their spouses can be buried at a national cemetery at no cost. 40. You must have the military discharge papers in hand in order to be buried at a military cemetery.GETTTING HELP 41. There is a very specific, yet limited, list of the types of people who can assist a veteran with the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of a claim: a. Veterans can do it alone b. Veterans Service Organizations can help c. Individuals Accredited by the VA can help d. A One-time Power of Attorney agent can help e. Attorneys accredited by the VA can helpATTORNEYS FEES 42. No private or non-profit organization, nor individual, including lawyers, can charge for the preparation, presentation and prosecution of a claim. 43. Once a veterans claim is denied or approved for fewer benefits than the claimant was seeking, the veteran can hire a paid representative to assist with the appeal AFTER a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) has been filed with the VA. 44. A NOD filed BEFORE June 20, 2007 has different rules. Page 6 of 8
  7. 7. 45. An attorneys fee is presumed to be reasonable if the attorney charges no more than 20% of what you receive in past due benefits. 46. Elder care and Estate Planning attorneys are allowed to charge clients for the elder care and estate planning work they do for veterans.RESOURCES FOR YOU 47. Reliable resources where you can obtain credible information on obtaining the Veterans Benefits you have earned: a. Department of Veterans Affairs: www.va.gov b. VA Forms: www.vba.va.gov/pubs/formsl.htm c. M21-1 and M21-1MR, Adjudication Manual: www.warms.vba.gov/m21_l.html www.warms.vba.va.gov/M21_lMR.html d. Veterans Benefits Manual, published by LexisNexis e. VisPro, application process software f. National Organization of Veterans Advocates (NOVA) www.vetadvocates.com g. National Veterans Legal Services Program www.nvlsp.com Page 7 of 8
  8. 8. h. Veterans Advocates Group of America www.vagamembers.comi. VA blogs and listserves www.vawatchdog.org www.veteranaid.org/

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