ST. LOUIS, MO, December 2, 2022 -- While everyone is talking about this year’s 2023 COLA or Social Security Administration’s (SSA) cost of living adjustment, which is a considerable Social Security increase of 8.7%, few are citing the positive impact this has on wartime veterans and their survivors. Many veteran families are affected by the COLA increase and now meet the VA’s net worth threshold for a VA pension. The pension is a tax-free monetary benefit to help certain veterans and survivors cope with financial challenges, especially those 65 or older, partially or extensively disabled who struggle to pay for their daily care.
2023 COLA is Good News For Social Security Recipients and Veteran Families
“The 2023 COLA is great news and we want to spread the word to veteran families whose loved ones may qualify for the VA pension,” says David Laiderman CEO of Veterans Home Care.
The new net worth (income and assets) limit to be eligible for a pension from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is $150,538 up from $138,489. This needs-based pension is often called “Aid and Attendance” because most who qualify also qualify for an additional amount for those needing the aid and attendance of another.
VA Net Worth Limit Equals the CSRA
The VA’s net worth threshold for this little-known benefit matches the current maximum Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA) that is set by Congress for Medicaid. This amount typically changes each year with a cost of living increase. The CSRA was established in 1988 to prevent spouses from being impoverished when their spouse applied for Medicaid to pay for nursing home care. In October 2018, the VA adopted this amount for their needs-based pension. Prior to 2018, there wasn’t a set net worth limit for veterans and their widows applying for the VA pension. Decisions on who qualified were inconsistently decided.
More Should Apply for the VA Pension
Many people count themselves out and don’t apply for the VA’s pension with Aid and Attendance, says Laiderman. First of all, since it’s a needs-based program, they may think they have to be destitute or meet state Medicaid guidelines to qualify. The $150,538 threshold is much higher than most states allow for Medicaid. Others confuse the VA Pension with the VA’s Compensation benefits. The eligibility criteria of these two programs are vastly different.
VA Pension vs. Compensation
For the VA Compensation, a veteran must establish a service-connected disability resulting from an injury or illness that occurred or was worsened during military service. The VA will compensate each veteran based on his/her level of disability and the monetary payments do not hinge on a person’s wealth.
However, for the VA Pension with Aid and Attendance, a service-connected disability is not required nor is combat duty or overseas service. Instead, the veteran must meet income and asset requirements, have a disabling medical condition, and have served 90 days of active duty with at least one day during wartime. If the active duty occurred after September 7, 1980, you must have served at least 24 months or the full period that you were called up (with some exceptions). If an otherwise qualifying veteran is deceased, the surviving spouse may qualify.
The VA Pension with Aid and Attendance now pays up to $2,643 per month for a married veteran. A surviving spouse will receive up to $1,432.
Worth noting, the VA doesn’t count a primary residence or vehicle as part of an applicant’s net worth. They also allow certain deductions to income such as the cost of home caregivers, adult daycare, medical alert devices, incontinence supplies and more.
The VA admits Aid and Attendance is underutilized and there’s a disparity among those who find out about it, apply and access it. “Our company has been in business for 20 years helping people navigate this ins and outs of claiming their Aid and Attendance benefit and getting care,” says Laiderman.
“We’re a private home care company but unlike others we have unparalleled expertise with VA benefits for custodial care,” says Laiderman.