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Any advice on dealing with the VA if I have a large estate?

I am a 95-year-old WW II 1st Lt. (Army Air Corp.) pilot/navigator/mechanic living in an old-folks' home. I've been very lucky to have survived the war and I've been very lucky financially. My wife passed last Saturday. But because I have a large estate the VA will do nothing for me / has done nothing. Everything I see from the VA is "means tested" and I don't qualify; can't qualify during my life-time. Can you offer me any advice? I read the recent blog about the VA Aid & Attendance Webinar but means testing was not even mentioned.

Status: Open    Aug 31, 2015 - 04:36 PM


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Sep 02, 2015 - 09:31 AM

I am sorry to hear about the loss of your wife. Unfortunately, most everything at the VA is means tested including the Aid and Attendance Portion of the VA's Non-Service Connected Pension Program. The Pension program is designed for veterans whose medical expenses exceed their income and do not have sizable estates to care for their medical needs. The purpose is to strech assets out long enough until Medicaid or similar can take over.

However, the VA recently eliminated the asset portion on the Healthcare application and only look specifically at income v. medical expenses.

Also you should consider filing a claim to the VA as being a pilot you were exposed to sound trauma and one would expect that you would have some hearing loss as well as tinnitus. You can find a local Veterans Service Officer through the VA's website at:

Sep 02, 2015 - 09:42 AM

For purposes of the VA Aid and Attendance Benefit, the VA, in addition to looking at service time and assistance with Activities of Daily Living, will review an applicant's income/expenses and overall net worth. The VA looks to the amount of income the applicant (veteran or surviving spouse) brings in each month as opposed to the expenses that go out for that applicant's medical assistance. If the income surpasses the expenses, the monthly pension amount that the applicant may qualify for will be reduced by that excess. In terms of net worth, there is no set standard for the amount of assets an applicant may have. Websites and other forums seem to indicate $80,000 is the maximum, but our firm's vast experience with the VA shows that this number is too high. We typically tell clients that the safe amount to have to one's name and still qualify is roughly around $40,000 - $50,000. Any amount more than that will disqualify the applicant; however, because the VA currently has no "lookback period" for this Benefit, the excess in assets can be reallocated (either gifted or transferred to a specific type of irrevocable trust) and the applicant can qualify. Each person's particular long-term care planning/estate planning needs differ so it is important to consult with an experienced elder law and VA Accredited attorney regarding qualifying for and obtaining the VA Aid and Attendance Benefit.

Sep 02, 2015 - 10:53 AM

The V.A. pension which often times includes aid and attendance benefits is means tested. The only V.A. benefit that is not means tested is their disability benefit which requires that you have been injured during your wartime service. If you are willing to give away your assets which might have significant tax consequences, you might qualify for the pension since the V.A. does not penalize gifts. Consult an elder law attorney in your State about this.

Sep 03, 2015 - 05:31 AM

Thank you for your service Bob - nice to see a 95 year old on the internet - My 105 year old grandmother missed that boat...although she enjoys seeing the pictures on cellphones!
The largest amount of assets we had someone have in their own name was $248,000 - but, she was a surviving spouse in a nursing home, so her care costs were high - there were 40 awards granted in 2014 to people with over $119,2200 in assets. 39 clients of Elder Resource Benefits Consulting were grane the benefit with more than $119,220 in 2014, so your guess of $100,000 may very well be a great number.

The reason so many people think there is an $80,000 is that over $80,000 further development is required by the VA. Anyone with under $80,000 can get the benefit if they meet the other criteria, sometimes people will mistakenly think you have to have less than that, but there are regulations that allow you to have up to $80,000 if you use them.


Sep 10, 2015 - 09:14 AM

The VA Pension and Aid & Attendance benefit might help may for some of the costs of living where you are. A Veteran must meet several eligibility factors, such as honorable discharge, having served during a “period of war,” and there is a means-tested component. Although you have a large estate, there may be VA planning strategies available to you to help you qualify for this benefit. I recommend contacting a local VA Accredited attorney, which you can search for here: Thank you for your service to our country.
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