By Dale Gribow

So many of our Coachella Valley Weekly readers have asked for more information on Elder Law, Trusts, Aid and Attendance etc that I am focusing this and future articles on same. I had an epiphany when my mother in law started to need the information set forth in this article. I began to realize how few citizens were aware of what assistance is available to them.
As we age we all get to the point where we need assistance. The most popular form of assistance is MediCal which is long term care. Those who have served our country have a possible second source of non- taxable income through the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with the Aid and Attendance Benefit and Household Pension. Last year 1.9 million Vets qualified but did not know this assistance was available.
When dealing with the VA on this issue there are two factors to consider. The first is compensation, which is rate based depending on an injury. The second is the Pension aspect which includes the Aid and Attendance benefit & Household Pension. It is based on age, assets, marital status, income, liquid assets and cost of care.
Aid and Attendance is often referred to as a “secret” our government does not want you to know about. The senior Veteran must have served in WW2, Korea, Vietnam or the Gulf. For some reason I do not understand, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Bay of Pigs, Grenada, Panama, Central America and Libya do not qualify. The Veteran must have served one day of “wartime” active duty and at least 90 consecutive days of active duty. Reservists and National Guard service qualifies “only” if activated. Merchant Marines do qualify.
The Vet needs to submit the DD-214, the official military discharge papers required by the VA to process your application. Any discharge other than dishonorable qualifies the Vet for this program.
If you are over 65 years of age, and require the aid and attendance of another person, you are eligible for the program. If you are less than 65 years of age, but have a permanent disability (which can be non-wartime related), you are still eligible. The medical verification required is called Form 21-2680, and it must be filled out by your doctor.
With respect to income limits, as long as your medical expenses exceed your income, you are qualified. In other words there is no income limit and “NO LOOK BACK” Period unlike MediCal. The income for VA purposes referred to as IVAP is your income less your Unreimbursed Medical Expenses called URME. The URME includes the cost of care at home, in assisted living or in a board and care facilitiy. If your income is greater than the cost of care, then you need to consult with an attorney to legally comply with the VA rules.

You home is NOT an asset for the purposes of the aid and attendance program. If you have less than $40,000 in non-house assets such as CD’s, mutual funds, IRA’s, stocks and bonds, checking and savings accounts you may qualify. However if these assets are greater than $40,000 you should consult with an elder law attorney to protect your life savings legally and to be sure you have a long-term care provision built into your plan. It is often as simple as setting up a trust and putting assets into the trust.
The figures below show the amounts that can be received by a Vet who qualifies:
2012 Maximum Benefit Amounts

Two Veterans / Spouses $2,631


Married Veteran* $2,019

Single Veteran $1,703

Surviving Spouse $1,094


Two Veterans / Spouses $31,572

Married Veteran $24,228

Single Veteran $20,436

Surviving Spouse $13,140

Assuming the veteran needs care. If only the spouse needs care, a married veteran could qualify for up to $1,337 monthly.
We will try to pick up on this Elder Law theme next week.
If you have any questions regarding this column or ideas for future columns please contact Dale Gribow Attorney at Law at our NEW number 760 837 7500 and or our new email of