The Elrod Firm


Do I Need to Contact the VA?

Justin, my dad applied for and is now receiving the Aid and Attendance benefit through the VA. When he applied, he was living at home and paying caregivers to assist him. However, he recently moved to assisted living and we’re planning to sell his house. Do we need to get in touch with the VA about any of this? -Tom

Tom, I’m glad to hear that your father was able to successfully apply for VA benefits. Based on what you have indicated in your question, you probably should contact the VA, but there’s a problem.

Anytime the living arrangements and medical expenses change for a recipient of VA benefits, that recipient is obligated to inform the VA of the changes. The move from home to assisted living probably means that your father’s level of need and medical expenses have gone up, not down, so I would not anticipate any drop in his benefit level, but you should inform the VA of the changes.

The problem, though, centers on your comments about the house. Your father had no trouble qualifying for benefits while owning a home, but as strange as it may sound, the VA treats the sale of a home as a conversion of a non-countable asset (the home) into income (the proceeds from the sale of the home divided over the upcoming twelve months). In other words, in almost all cases, the sale of a home will kick a veteran off the Aid and Attendance benefit for a full twelve months.

There are steps you can take to avoid this terrible outcome, so before you sell that home, speak with an elder law attorney to make sure you do it right.

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