Medicaid vs the VA Pension

Orange City Iowa Estate Planning

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Planning for long-term care can be an intimidating process, especially when it comes to decoding the specifics of resources, like Medicaid and Veterans Pensions. Working with the help of an experienced elder law planning attorney allows people to prepare for the future and save time, money and stress.

For seniors who are looking at Medicaid and VA Pensions, there are a few key things to consider, says’s recent article entitled “The top 5 things to know about Medicaid and VA pension.”

1. Background and criteria for qualification. An initial question that arises with Medicaid and VA Pension is how to know whether you are eligible. Both are needs-based programs and examine your net worth and your income. You also must satisfy certain thresholds, before you qualify for these benefits.

For Medicaid, you have to have income under a certain amount, resources under a certain amount, over the age of 65, in need of care, and have not given away your money. For Veteran’s Benefits, you need to have served at least 1 day during a period of war, not received a dishonorable discharge, meet the income and net worth limits, above the age of 65, and have some sort of disability.

2. Medicaid and your assets. A frequent concern for those looking at Medicaid, is what will happen to their assets after they no longer need this assistance. Being proactive can help avoid or decrease any asset seizures. Proactive planning can save the house, and Medicaid won’t sell the house out from underneath your spouse. After the death of the person getting Medicaid, the state will attempt to recoup the cost of what it is spent on the individual. In effect, Medicaid becomes a creditor of their estate after their death. The state can potentially foreclose on the house. That is where people hear stories about Medicaid taking the house. However, with planning and the help of a Medicaid planning attorney, a senior can implement some simple tools to avoid this.

3. Misconceptions about Medicaid and VA Pension. A big misconception about these programs is that after you’ve applied once and been denied, you can’t try to qualify again. However, if your life circumstances change, you may meet requirements. Work with an elder law attorney to see exactly when you meet the eligibility requirements, so you don’t miss out on funds that might be needed.

4. Factors that affect qualification. For some planning on receiving Medicaid or VA Pensions, they may inadvertently disqualify themselves or extend their waiting period. A senior will frequently give the house to the children, and then a few years later, they need Medicaid. Medicaid has the lookback period, so they look at the past five or three years, depending on the type of Medicaid, to see if you gave anything away for less than fair market value. A house is a non-countable resource for Medicaid if you have the intent to return home. However, if you transfer it to your children, it could cause a penalty which presents many complications upon qualifying for benefits. If you sell the house and turn it into cash in your name, the home can be taken. It’s a non-countable resource and turned it into cash, which is a countable resource. This must be spent down before qualifying.

Getting started. For information on Medicaid and VA pension eligibility, government websites have more information. But understanding these eligibility requirements can be difficult — and an experienced elder law attorney can make certain that you’re taking full advantage to what you’re entitled.

Reference: (July 1, 2021) “The top 5 things to know about Medicaid and VA pension”

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