What To Do With Income Too High For VA Benefits?

Justin, I am a wartime veteran living in assisted living. I heard you speak on the VA Aid and Attendance benefit several months ago, so I called the VA to ask if I qualified. They said I didn’t because my income of around $2,700 per month was too high. Any suggestions? – Ryan

Ryan, The income test used by the VA to determine eligibility for the Aid and Attendance benefit is one of the most misunderstood areas in elder law. You are not the first person to tell me that they called the VA only to be told that their income was too high when, from the facts you have given me, it appears that could not be further from the truth.

It is accurate to say that the VA has income and asset limits for this benefit. The asset limit is pretty simple—if a single veteran (or the widow of a veteran) has assets under $40,000, he or she will likely meet the asset test. The number is around $80,000 for married veterans. For those with assets above that level, there are several planning techniques available to help.

The income test, on the other hand, is a formula, not a number. To meet the income test, you must show that you spend more in qualified recurring medical expenses than you make each month in total gross income. Assisted living expenses qualify as deductions against your income, so I would predict that you meet the VA’s income test, despite what you were told when you called. Do not let the incorrect information you received in your call discourage you; continue looking into the benefit.