Monthly Newsletter – May 2012 www.seniorsrealestate.comVeterans Administration Programs Ease Aging • Health care assessments from aBurdens team that includes doctors and a social workerBy Elyse Umlauf-Garneau • Health and nutrition educationMaybe youve never tapped U.S. Department ofVeteran Affairs (VA) benefits because youve Medical care, including:never needed them. Or because you forgot thattheyre available to you. • Outpatient and inpatient hospital, medical, surgical, mental healthBut if you or your family member is retired from care, and substance abuse carethe military, you may be overlooking a host ofhealth and financial benefits. • Prescription drugsThought the VA wont deliver the high life, • Rehab servicessome of its services can ease some of the • Durable medical equipment, suchburdens and costs associated with aging. as hearing aids and glasses.The most well-known VA benefits are • Respite and adult daycare. If youreassociated with health care, but the package is a full-time caregiver to a Veteran,more extensive than many realize. It includes: you can get 30 days per year off. Adult day care services, saysPreventative services, such as: Carlotta Katra, are especially helpful if, for example, youre caring for • Immunizations someone with dementia and that person cant be left alone safely.
Katra is president of Aging Avenues For information, see www1.va.gov/ Eldercare Consulting, Indianapolis, VHAPUBLICATIONS/ViewPublicatio Ind., a fee-only consulting company n.asp?pub_ID=340 with an expertise in VA benefits. • Dependents and Survivors • Hospice care. The service is for Vets Benefits: If youre a low-income with a terminal condition and who widow of a Vet who did wartime have six months or less to live. service, you may be eligible for some pension money and someEasier aging in place other services. See www1.va.gov/opa/publications/beOther benefits that arent linked to health care nefits_book/benefits_chap12.aspand some that are lesser known have the power andto ease day-to-day aging challenges and, in www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/pension/ssome cases, transform lives by allowing for pousepencalc.htm for more information.greater independence.Keep in mind that not all veterans qualify and Benefits bonanzasome program benefits vary depending on what Perhaps the single most overlooked benefit isstate you live in. And one rule of thumb to keep Aid & Attendance, which is an Improvedin mind is that disabled veterans typically Pension Benefit for Vets and their survivingreceive the deepest benefits. spouses who need assistance with basic self-Some non-medical benefits include: care. A doctor has to qualify a candidate and a person • Home loans: Qualified Vets can use must be legally blind or need assistance with VA loans to buy or build a home one or more of the following: and renovate an existing one. See www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans for more information. • Bathing • Home modifications: Grants are • Dressing available for small modifications, such as for installing universal • Transferring design elements like shower grab bars. Others address more • Walking extensive renovations to create barrier-free living. For more • Medications information, see www.vba.va.gov/ • Personal care VBA/benefits/factsheets/homeloan s/homemods.doc The tax-free money, ranging from $1,094 to • Vehicle modification: Vets with $2,020, can be used for care at home, in an disabilities connected to their assisted living facility, or at a nursing home. military service may qualify for money for buying or modifying a There are stringent qualification guidelines. For car to accommodate those injuries. instance, the Vet or spouse must be spending at
least 5 percent more than their gross income on http://www1.va.gov/opa/publications/benefitsmedical and care expenses to get the maximum _book/benefits_chap07.asp.benefit. 3. Be patient. Be prepared to wait forIn addition, those who qualify must have appointments and when youre picking uplimited--typically the VA says $80,000 or less medicine, suggests Katra. The VA isnt knownper couple--assets, though Katra says thats not for speed.a hard and fast rule. 4. Pre-screen facilities. If youre looking forAnd since the VA, unlike Medicaid, doesnt have nursing care and you or your relative qualifiesa lookback period, you can do some advance for a VA facility, visit the facilities in your areaplanning to qualify for the benefit without and take a close look at them. Not all areincurring a penalty. created equal. Some are lovely and state-of-the art and others are just the opposite, according"You could have $1 million today and, with Katra.proper planning, get approved for Aid &Attendance tomorrow, " says Katra. "They do 5. Agent Orange exposure: Katra says exposurelook at assets, but right now theres no penalty to Agent Orange likely will affect everyone whofor repositioning assets, but that probably will went to Vietnam. Among the ailments are earlychange this year." heart attacks, prostate cancer, and Parkinsons disease. Veterans who filed a claim years agoThats why Katra suggests planning early and and who thought they had symptoms, canmeeting with an attorney schooled in elder law return to the VA for treatment. "Because theyand who understands VA benefits. After all, no filed a prior claim, theyre eligible for 100one really knows when the VA will close the percent disability. That can be worth a hugeloophole. amount of money because a Vet who is fully6 things to know disabled gets a monthly payment," she says. "They also pay that amount all the way back to1. Snowbird benefits. If you have dual their original claim date." For more informationresidences, you need to register at hospitals in on Agent Orange exposure and for informationboth places. This is especially important for about making a claim, seesnowbirds who spend six months in Chicago, for www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentoranexample, but pass the winter in Florida or ge andArizona. www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/benefits/Herbicide/AO no3.htm.2. Know your benefits. Dont overestimatebenefits. Its important to really understand 6. Hire an expert. Dont go it alone, especially ifwhat the VA does and doesnt provide when youre applying for Aid & Attendance, saysyoure doing your long-term planning. For Katra. Its a complex process and not all theinstance, many assume that they get cradle-to- details, exceptions, and updates are easy to findgrave care. But for funerals, for instance, the VA for the average consumer. So someone, antypically provides only a $300 burial allowance. eldercare attorney or consultant with VAFor more about burial benefits, see
expertise, can decipher the legalese and fine VA benefits basics:print and guide you through the process. • www.vba.va.gov/VBA/benefits/factResources: sheets/index.asp#BM1 chartEnroll: • http://www.csa.us/VeteransBenefit sGuideApply for VA benefits onlinehttps://www.1010ez.med.va.gov, by calling1-877-222-VETS (8387), or in person. To find VAfacilities, seewww2.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp.Real Estate Matters: News & Issues for theMature MarketColdwell Banker Residential Brokerage15 VerValen StreetCloster, NJ 07624Jeffrey Shapiro, SRES®