Veterans Pension Benefits and Long Term Planning

Recent reports indicate that there are over 11 million veterans, surviving spouses, and dependents of veterans eligible for non-service connected pension benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Unfortunately, most of these people have no idea that these benefits exist.

For many veterans and their surviving spouses, the cost of nursing home, assisted living, or home health care can be devastating, and they are unable to pay these costs from their Social Security and retirement pensions. Often families are pauperized or parents become dependent on their children to assist with these expenses. Yet, in many cases, an eligible veteran or surviving spouse can receive monetary benefits on a tax-free basis from the VA that may cover 20-50% of these costs for life.

These are not service-connected benefits, so the veteran does not have to have been wounded or disabled while in service. To be eligible, the veteran must have served at least 90 days of active duty where one day was during a wartime period and have received a discharge other than dishonorable.

In addition to the basic eligibility criteria, there are income and asset requirements that must also be met. This is where critical analysis and thorough planning by a qualified professional is necessary. Many variables may enter into this analysis in the pre-application stage. There are three types of pension benefits: low income pension, housebound pension, and aid and attendance benefits. The amounts vary, but in some cases a veteran could receive monthly benefits of up to $1949.00 on a tax-free basis for life.

The Veterans Pension Benefits often make a significant difference in the quality of the vital medical and personal care that our veterans or their dependents receive either at home or in an assisted living facility or nursing home and should not be overlooked in long term planning.

With over 30 years of experience, Joel Bunkley is a practicing attorney licensed in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi. Mr. Bunkley’s law practice is limited to Estate Planning, Elder Law, Special Needs Planning, VA Benefits, and the ability to handle a wide variety of trusts and estate matters, including Family Limited Partnerships and LLCs, Special Needs Trusts, Asset Protection, Charitable Trusts, Insurance Planning.
Mr. Bunkley is an Accredited Attorney by the Department of Veteran Affairs to assist veterans and their families with advice on complex areas of law concerning long-term care planning, including VA Pension Benefits and the related issues of Medicaid Benefits.
His career includes service with First Union/Wachovia Bank, as National Consulting Director for the Capital Management Group. Prior to his financial services career and private practice, Mr. Bunkley was a Professor of Law at the Wake Forest University School of Law and the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
Mr. Bunkley has a BA and JD from the University of Mississippi and an LLM from the Harvard School of Law.