As a Michigan Elder Law Attorney, I commonly hear from veterans and surviving spouses that they won’t ever need Medicaid because the VA will pay their nursing home care. However, that’s really not the case. Don’t make this mistake in your own estate planning if you are a Michigan Veteran.
The VA will only pay for or subsidize veterans who need nursing home care due to a service-connected disability or any vet with a combined service-connected disability rating of 70% or more and who need skilled nursing care. The VA only provides nursing home care for individuals in other categories IF beds and resources are available.
Limitations of VA Nursing Homes in Michigan
One of the biggest limitations of VA Nursing homes, even if you qualify in Michigan is their location. In Michigan there are two VA Nursing Homes in the whole state. There is is one in Marquette and the other is in the Grand Rapids area. Not very helpful if your loved one is a Veteran in the Brighton, Livonia, Metro-Detroit area.
Furthermore, you can’t just decide you are going to a VA nursing home, even if you believe you meet the level of care and rating requirements. There is a process to be evaluated for VA nursing home care. You must first be enrolled for Veterans Health Benefits, which is another process in and of itself and can include an evaluation of income and assets. Then, once enrolled with the Veterans Health Administration, you must then be evaluated by a primary care provider or a geriatric specialist for nursing home care.
Moreover, if you are a surviving spouse of a Veteran you may not qualify for a VA Nursing Home at all.
You can learn more about VA Care at their website.
VA Benefits for Nursing Home, Assisted Living and Home Care
Now the VA will not pay your entire nursing home, but there is a VA Benefit that will help pay for home care, assisted living or nursing home care called the Aid & Attendance Benefit.
This year the VA Aid & Attendance Benefit maxes out at $2,120 per month. Now this will not cover the whole cost of nursing home care, which can run over $12,500 per month in Michigan, but it will help ease some of the burden, especially of assisted living or home care.
Medicaid and VA Benefits Together
Typically, if you are a veteran or surviving spouse of a veteran we, at The Elder Care Firm, will help families link their VA Benefits and Medicaid by initially qualifying the family for the VA Benefit when they need home care or assisted living. However, once the loved one transitions to a nursing home, we will help them qualify for Medicaid by sheltering their resources. The net effect is until the family needs nursing home care, we help bring in up to $2,120 per month, then once nursing home is needed, Medicaid picks up a majority of the nursing home cost.
Planning ahead for VA Benefits and Medicaid
The earlier a family starts planning for a Veteran or surviving spouse of a veteran, the more options are on the table as the loved one navigates the long-term care journey. Often, as VA Accredited Elder Law Attorneys, we utilize special asset protection trusts to help qualify for the VA Benefit or Medicaid.
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