By: Keisha Jackson
The Beatles said they could “get by with a little help from friends.” Bill Withers suggested you “call on a brother when you need a hand.” With many Americans facing economic challenges, it may be difficult for our aging veterans and their surviving spouses to get help from either.
The good news is some veterans and surviving spouses may qualify for a program not widely known—the Department of Veterans Affairs Aid and Attendance Program.
Aid and Attendance provides a monthly, tax-free pension to help qualifying veterans and surviving spouses offset expenses like paying for caregivers, adult daycares, and assisted living facilities.
In most cases, there are some basic requirements: no dishonorable discharge, must be at least 65, have served at least one day during war-time, 90 days of active service before 1980, or at least 24 months after 1990, and their net worth cannot exceed $129,094; and this does not include their primary residence.
Although a lawyer is not needed, applicants should be aware of individuals or organizations that target and exploit individuals. It is also important to note it is against the law for anyone to charge a fee to a qualifying veteran or surviving spouse who applies for Aid and Attendance.
In some cases, if a professional helps you arrange your affairs to help with eligibility requirements, a fee may be charged for those services.
The National Academy of Elder Law Attorney (NAELA) is a nonprofit association dedicated to improving the quality of legal services provided to older adults and people with disabilities. NAELA offers a list of qualified attorneys who can apply for Aid and Attendance benefits on behalf of veterans and surviving spouses.
America’s Heroes Group Roundtable for Family Caregivers was honored to have Attorney Rory Clark from the Legacy Elder Law Center, in Leesburg, Virginia as a guest. Clark has over 30 years of experience in areas of law most relevant to seniors, veterans, and the disabled.
Clark was a caregiver to his father, who was a World War II veteran and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, and his mother was afflicted with Parkinson’s. He also has a son with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. Clark is licensed in Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, and is credentialed to help veterans nationwide. In 2019, he published his first book, “The Family Estate Planning and Elder Law Guide.”
A member of NAELA, Clark can be reached at 703-988-7975, www.legacyelderlaw.com, or [email protected].