If you serve in the military, you become eligible for a lifetime retirement pension after a minimum of 20 years of service. At this point, the exact parameters are quite convoluted, because they depend upon the year of initial enlistment and retirement. There are also different options available to certain service members.
Rather than getting deep into the weeds here, simply put, the exact amount of your retirement benefit will depend upon your pay grade coupled with the number of years that you served before retirement. The longer, the better, and if you retire after serving for at least 40 years, you get 100% of your active duty pay.
Most Americans, and all people that have served in the Armed Forces, have heard of this pension for veterans, but there is another type of veterans pension that flies well under the radar.
Veterans Aid and Attendance Special Pension
Eligible veterans that require assistance with their day-to-day needs can receive a different pension called Veterans Aid and Attendance. It should be noted that you do not have to be disabled or partially disabled because of service related injuries to qualify. If you simply experience the eventualities of aging through natural causes, you can potentially obtain eligibility.
One of the reasons why a lot of people are not aware of this benefit, even individuals that served in the military, is because the length of service requirement is very minimal. You must have at least 90 days of service, with just one of them taking place during a time of war to be eligible for the benefit.
If you exit the service when you are in your 20’s, several decades later when you need long-term care, it may never occur to you that you actually qualify for this special pension.
You do have to be able to provide medical evidence that you cannot handle all of your own activities of daily living without assistance from someone else. Plus, this has always been a need-based program, but there was no etched in stone asset limit.
A general figure of $80,000 was typically floated as the asset limit, but evaluations were actually made on a case-by-case basis. It was also possible to give assets to your loved ones at any time before you applied for the benefit, and this would not impact your eligibility status. This made it very easy to qualify without losing anything in the process.
On October 18th of 2018, some very profound changes to the above parameters went into effect. There is now a $126,420 net worth limit (excluding your home, which is exempt), and there is a three-year look back provision. You cannot qualify if you give away assets within three years of your application submission date.
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