A majority of veterans don’t realize they may be eligible for pension benefits from the Veterans Administration. Considered the government’s best kept secret, there are several pension programs that are available for those who served in the military for at least one day during war time or had a spouse who served at that time.
“The key to accessing these benefits lies in the application, which can be extremely lengthy and complex,” says Jennifer B. Cona, elder law attorney and managing partner of Cona Elder Law, a Melville, LI based elder law and estate planning firm. That’s why the attorneys at Cona Elder Law, who have earned VA accreditation, are sponsoring a pro bono program until March 31st to help veterans and their spouses over the age of 65 obtain “Aid and Attendance” benefits.
This invaluable benefit will be a tremendous boost to help elderly veterans and their widows pay for the high costs of care, including rent and expenses of an assisted living facility or home health care aides. A monthly check of up to $ 1,842 is paid to the veteran or widow depending on their medical expenses and their current financial and medical status.
In addition to following 7 pages of instructions and completing the cumbersome 20 page application, Cona Elder Law will also examine military discharge papers, provide legal advice on asset transfers to meet the eligibility requirements of no more than $80,000 in assets (if married) and how to plan for the future and possible Medicaid eligibility should the Veteran need nursing home care in the future.
It’s important to submit the application for Aid and Attendance early since the processing time in Nassau and Suffolk Counties currently is at least nine months. Since the benefits are available and attainable, it is wise to get the assistance of an attorney who has expertise with asset protection and experience working with governmental agencies. Documents required for the application include: proof of net worth (bank accounts, CD’s, investments), income statements (pensions, retirements accounts, investment and rental income), copies of medical bills or other medical expenses that are not reimbursed by insurance, a list of medications and more.
The attorneys at Cona Elder Law are among the few attorneys on LI to be accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs. “Because our goal is to be the best advocates for seniors, our elder law attorneys have become accredited in order to provide assistance and guidance with veteran’s applications in addition to our Elder Law and estate planning services,” notes Ms. Cona.
In addition, Cona Elder Law has launched special programs with the Bristal Assisted Living to help their residents and family members apply for Aid and Attendance to help defray their monthly costs.