Veterans Planning & Medicaid - 2018 Update

It is good news that those who served during wartime may be eligible for an “Aid and Attendance” pension to help pay for long-term care at home or in an adult-foster care or assisted living center. This pension can pay between one thousand and two thousand dollars a month to help cover care costs. That supplement has been a help to thousands who would not be able to stay out of a nursing home without it. 

In addition, at Heritage Elder Law & Planning, PC, we have found that those who do qualify for the Veterans pension have a distinct advantage when it comes to long-term care overall. This is true because in spite of heroic efforts, approximately seventy-five percent of those getting assisted living care will end up needing nursing home care at some point. Therefore, planning for the nursing home is essential even for those who will qualify for the Veterans Aid & Attendance pension.

What can veterans do to plan for nursing homecare? At the same time that they are obtaining the veterans benefits they should be engaging in Medicaid planning. Without this planning, all assets the individual or couple have are at risk. Nursing home costs continue to rise – and now are a staggering six thousand ($6000) to ten thousand dollars ($10,000) per month! That’s eighty to one hundred twenty thousand dollars a year. Few will be able to preserve any of their estate without Medicaid planning at that rate.

What type of planning should be done for Veterans? Those who have no assets but have a house and a car should take steps to protect the house from the estate recovery program. Under that program, if the state ends up paying for one’s care in a nursing home they have a right to put a lien on the house (which is usually the only asset the person has left). The house can be kept until the person and/or his or her spouse passes away. However, at that time the state would be able to enforce its lien and obtain a payback prior to any beneficiaries getting part of the asset. This result can be avoided with careful planning.

Moreover, those who have some additional assets should continue using a special type of asset protection trust when planning for Veterans Benefits. The assets can be transferred to that trust, permitting immediate qualification for Veterans Benefits. At the same time, the transfers to the trust start the look-back period for Medicaid (currently five years). The idea is to use the Veterans Benefits to pay for care for at least the five year period to get through the Medicaid look-back term. If the person needs long-term care in a nursing home after that point, all assets are protected and Medicaid can be obtained without fear of complete asset depletion.

In sum, when planning for Veterans Benefits through the “Aid & Attendance” program Medicaid planning should be done at the same time. The recipient of the benefits has the opportunity to obtain not only a valuable monthly pension but to protect all assets in the event that nursing home care and Medicaid are necessary. Hence, make sure to plan with a competent professional that can guide you through the maze of laws necessary to achieve these goals. At Heritage Elder Law & Planning, PC, we have years of experience helping individuals in this way and would be happy to assist you in any way we can.

Law change alert: As of 2018 the Veteran’s Administration is still considering passing new laws (e.g., lookback periods for transferring assets, limits on exemptions, etc.) which will make it harder to quality for the VA Aid and Attendance Pension See: and

Below are the 2018 new VA Aid and Attendance rates:


Benefit Annual

Benefit Monthly

Unmarried Veteran


Aid & Attendance










Married Veteran (or w/1 Dependent)


Aid & Attendance










Surviving Spouse


Aid & Attendance










Surviving Spouse (w/1 Dependent)


Aid & Attendance










Veteran Married to Veteran


Both Aid & Attendance



1 Aid & Attendance / 1 Housebound



1 Aid & Attendance



Both Housebound



1 Housebound



1 or Both Basic




Increase Per Additional Dependent Child



Updated 2018

Contact us today to receive a free strategy session with an experienced elder law attorney.