Finding Unique Solutions for Individuals Needing Long Term Care
by Kent U. Larsson, Esq.
Elder Care and Life Care Planning do not come with one-size-fits all solutions. Many companies with a focus on serving seniors are interested in meeting with your family and discussing your individual concerns and your ideal solutions. With all of our communities’ senior industry combined experience, we have learned that every family has different needs and de-sires – and that these needs and desires require unique, tailored plans. For example, one family may be primarily concerned with preserving the family farm, while another family’s main concern is finding a safe way for their elder to continue living at home despite memory loss issues. While one family may have personal funds to invest in their loved one’s care, another family may be searching for resources within the community or seeking to qualify for Medicaid, Veterans Pension benefits, or other government programs.
Just as building a house requires a set of blueprints, successful estate planning also requires a clear design. An effective estate plan is designed with the goal of insuring that one receives the best long term care and quality of life possible with the resources available.
Each Plan that is formulated, organized, and implemented is based on each individual’s needs and situation. Critical areas to be addressed may include:
- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Veterans Administration benefits
- Medical history, ailments, and any memory loss problems
- Personal property, assets and other financial considerations
- Legal documents, such as your Will, Trust, and Powers of Attorney
- Insurance coverage, including long-term care, health or medical insurance, life insurance and possible burial insurance
- Investments, savings, and sources of income such as annuities and retirement benefits
The most important considerations are one’s personal goals, wishes, priorities, and preferences of the actual care to be provided.
While some families choose do-it-yourself estate and health care planning, it is advisable to take advantage of the guidance and expertise a lawyer and vetted professionals who specialize in elder law and life care planning can offer to you and your loved ones. These local professionals offer valuable legal, financial and health care advice to help the people that they serve obtain the best care and highest quality of life possible.
One very important tool often used in building a plan to help families afford care, is to submit a successful application to begin receiving Veteran’s Administration Improved Pension Benefits. A pension is a benefit for veterans who are permanently and totally disabled, when that disability is not related to military service.
Most people think of Veterans benefits as being only for servicemen and women who were wounded or disabled while serving in the armed forces. By and large, that is true. However, there are substantial benefits that may be available to wartime veterans who are now senior citizens and are facing the burden of long term care expenses. In fact, the Veterans Administration estimates that millions of wartime veterans and their spouses may be eligible for Special Monthly Pension benefits, and not even be aware of it! The pension, called Aid and Attendance, is currently underused, but impending regulations will soon make it available to even fewer veterans. The new regulations will for the first time specify asset limits for qualification and impose a look-back period and transfer penalties similar to Medicaid’s. The looming changes mean that those considering applying for Aid and Attendance should act quickly.
Currently, if the veteran is in need of regular aid and attendance, the maximum yearly Special Monthly Pension Benefit is $21,531 or $1,794 per month, if the veteran has no dependents. With one dependent, such as a spouse, the maximum yearly pension is $25,525, or $2,127 per month. If the surviving spouse is in need of regular aid and attendance, the maxi-mum yearly pension is $13,836, or $1,153 per month.
Senior oriented businesses also have useful planning tools for non-veterans and are able to assist families in many areas and in many ways, depending on the specific needs of each individual that they serve. A network of senior service businesses in your community work together to provide a complete array of services. They provide the resources necessary to help your elderly loved one or the family care givers to create and implement a plan that is right for you and those that you love.