Regardless of where you have received your information, the VA Pension Benefit holds misconceptions that need to be addressed.
Mark Wight from our Idaho Estate Planning team spoke with Senior Matters Radio Show on KBOI-AM this month to cover everything you need to know to ensure your Veteran is receiving the correct information regarding estate planning.
According to Wight, “These things that they take for facts… The problem is that’s not accurate or at least not completely accurate.”
Wight covers the following misconceptions:
1. Only Vets can qualify for the VA benefit.
The first lie that gets spread around is that only Veterans can qualify and receive VA benefits. If the Vet has a dependent or if the spouse or children of a Vet are still living, they too can receive VA benefits – not just the Veteran themselves.
While VA benefits may seem as if they are reserved just for Veterans, part of the plan is to take care of those close to him or her.
2. Only Vets who have been to war can qualify.
As long as they served during a war period, a Veteran can qualify for VA benefits. Those who have, however, served in actual combat, there may be different or additional benefits. And no – Vets do not have to be injured in combat to receive benefits either.
3. If you just spend down your net worth to less than $80,000, you’ll automatically qualify.
Several government websites such as VA.gov have inaccurately stated that a married Vet needs to have under $80,000 in assets, or if single, under $40,000.
According to Wight, “We can tell you from direct experience that $80,000 is not the cut off.” What the VA won’t tell you is that if you put a second person on your account, your account balance will be cut in half – allowing you to qualify while retaining a greater amount.
Generally, a Vet’s age, their needs, and other factors play a major role in determining how much in assets they or their dependent can have to still qualify for VA benefits. Each individual case can dramatically vary.
4. The only way to qualify if you have over $80,000 is to simply spend everything down.
Contrary to popular belief, spending everything down just to qualify for VA benefits actually puts the Veteran’s spouse at risk.
Mark Wight states that for him, “the needs of the Vet and the surviving spouse” are the highest value for when it comes to VA planning. With this in mind, spending everything down is not your best option until you receive further information regarding what to do next.
5. You never need an attorney to do this.
For the VA pension benefit – the aid and attendance benefit – Wight states that the VA and the Idaho Division of Veteran Services don’t seem to be adequately trained to take full advantage of the whole program. While these two agencies are very good at so many other of the VA programs, the pension benefit is just a small sliver of the programs they deal with.
Many assume that the VA or Idaho Division knows exactly what they are doing. However, an attorney is still an integral part of the VA planning process and should be apart of every plan – whether you’ve been told to opt for one or not.
Learn more about the misconceptions
Wight states in the podcast that it’s important to do the proper research on VA planning. He also suggests calling Bill at our Idaho Estate Planning office at (208) 939-7658 to ensure you get the correct information you require.
Tune in to Senior Matters Radio Show to hear the full podcast featuring Mark Wight to learn more about VA planning and the truth behind it all.