VA benefits are designed to support veterans with their medical needs but the VA understands that spouses play an important part in those veteran’s lives. As such, a veteran can apply for benefits if their spouse’s medical care is causing undo financial stress on their income and savings (rewards for such claims can be as high as $1,271 per month) and spouses can apply for benefits their husbands and wives earned even after their death.
For spouses applying for their partner’s benefits, the process is a little bit more involved. The VA looks at the LAST marriage, not previous marriages. This means that if a veteran’s spouse has remarried, they may no longer be eligible to receive a previous spouse’s benefits.
In addition, there are certain criteria that the marriage must meet in order to enable spouses to claim benefits including (but not limited to):
- The marriage must have last at least one year.
- Divorced spouses cannot claim their partner’s benefits (thought separated spouses may still apply to do so)
- They must accurately report the service dates and conditions of their spouses military history (any error during this process will lead to a lengthy exchange of letters and the spouse must provide the correct documentation.)
All other requirements are the same as if the veteran were applying himself or herself and are listed below.
The veteran must have:
- Served on active duty for at least 90 days.
- Served at least one day during wartime (as defined by the VA.)
- Been honorably discharged from service.
And the spouse must:
- Have no more than $50,000 ($80,000 if married) in assets including any retirement funds –though Social Security Income and the home in which they live are not counted.
Demonstrate a qualified medical need such as:
- Requiring the assistance of at least one other person in order to perform two basic daily activities (such as cooking, bathing, toileting, administering medications, etc.)
- Or show legal and medical proof that you are blind or nearly blind
- Or currently reside in a long term care facility such as a nursing home
It is important to understand that once the benefit is awarded, it’s not a permanent thing. The VA assesses your situation yearly (you must fill out an EVR–Eligibility Verification report—by March 1st) and any change in your income, assets, or medical condition can lead to the revaluation (or even cancellation) of your benefit. In extreme cases, the VA may actually require the applicant to pay back a portion or the entirety of the award.
It essential in order to “pass” this EVR that the awarded party continue to pay for an ADL and have demonstrable expenses that exceed their income.
Because of the intricacies involved, it is recommended that spouses who are applying for the partner’s benefits or veterans who are applying for benefits on behalf of their spouses seek out a qualified counselor in order to get an understanding of the process. Indeed, third party counselors can not only provide expert assistance during the process such as expediting your waiting period to as little as 3 months and ensuring your application is 100% approvable but can also spot errors you may have made that will cost you a great deal.
Because receiving benefits is an ongoing process, we make a lifetime commitment to you and your family, promising to be there to assist you and you loved ones at any stage–though we do urge you to come to us before attempting anything yourself to avoid any unnecessary delays or penalties.
Please contact us today to find out more about our services and how we can help planning for your long term care needs less aggravating, more cost-efficient, and much simpler.