Must I be living in a care facility or receiving care at home before I apply for VA benefits?

No, it is not necessary to be living in a care facility in order to apply for VA benefits. However, if you are in need of personal assistance, a protective environment and your doctor confirms your need to live in the facility, the entire cost of the facility may be accepted to offset income in helping to qualify you for benefits, but you must be a current resident to submit these expenses as a deduction off income. All prescribed home care is typically accepted as a covered medical expense.

Who can help me complete the VA Forms?

Any private individual may assist with completing the forms; however, this individual is allowed to assist ONLY one person. A VA accredited organization, such as your local State Veterans Office, VFW, or American Legion, etc. may help you, as well as an accredited attorney or accredited VA Agent. NO-ONE may charge you for helping you prepare or present the VA application forms. Facilities, home care agencies, and other businesses are no longer allowed to pay ANYONE for providing assistance to applicants applying for VA benefit claims.

Does my home count as an asset?

No, your primary home is exempt and is not counted as an asset in determining eligibility for VA benefits until it is sold. In addition, jointly-owned assets may be split, under certain circumstances, with only the prorate portion counting as the applicant’s asset. However, it is suggested that you never transfer ANY assets or add a name to your accounts without consulting with an elder law attorney who is accredited by the VA and who is knowledgeable about Medicaid rules in your state.

How long does it take for me to get my first check?

Once an application is submitted to the VA, it can take anywhere from two to six months on average for the agency to approve the application and issue your check. If you have dementia or other memory loss issues, the VA will insist on meeting you and appointing a family member or friend to manage your benefits before sending you a check, so your claim may take on average six to twelve months to settle.

Does the money come to me or is it sent straight to the care facility?

All benefits are paid to the claimant and not to any facility or company.

Can I have the VA check deposited directly into my bank account?

Yes, the VA actually prefers to have all checks directly deposited into a bank account. If you have memory loss issues, the VA will insist on a direct deposit.

Is the check retroactive back to when I first applied or does it start the month/day I get approved?

Benefits are retroactive from the first day of the next month after the VA receives your application OR your first written notice that you wish to file a claim. However, it is very important to state exactly what benefits you are filing for; i.e. “Pension plus Aid and Attendance with Prepayment of Meds” or “Service Connected Compensation Due to Hearing Loss” on the application or the Informal Request. In order for the benefits to be retroactive, you must live through the entire next month after the VA receives the first “intent to file” (either an Informal Request or the application). In addition, if you are filing an Informal Request, you must be alive when the rest of the application is submitted and you have one year from the date of the Request to submit the remainder of your application to the VA in order to preserve the earlier eligibility date.

Shared with permission of Veterans Information Services, Inc. and the Creators of VisPro Software