Veterans who meet financial-need guidelines may be eligible for non-service connected benefits like a VA Pension, Aid and Attendance, and Housebound benefits. Attorneys commonly say that the asset limits for these VA benefits are $80,000 for a couple and $50,000 a single veteran or the widowed spouse of a vet. But the qualifications for veterans’ benefits are actually more complicated than that.
VA Asset Limitations
The actual asset limitation figures for means-tested veterans benefits are not set in stone, and they depend on several factors. While the $80,000 and $50,000 figures are a beginning point, the claimant’s age and life expectancy also play a significant role. The older a claimant is and the fewer years he or she is expected to live, the lower the asset threshold will be. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is allowed to use a lower limit if the agency feels an applicant for benefits has "excessive" assets. The VA assumes that individuals closer to death will need fewer assets to get them through their final days and that any extra assets can be used to fund their care needs. The VA will try to project how long your assets will last, taking into account your medical and assisted living/nursing home expenses, using life expectancy tables.
Unfortunately, there is no way of determining exactly how much total asset value is too much to qualify for VA benefits. While $80,000 for a couple and $50,000 for a single claimant is a good starting guideline, each case is determined individually by the claimant’s caseworker. For this reason, we highly recommend getting the help of an attorney when applying for veterans’ benefits. Also, be careful transferring assets to qualify for veterans benefits -- you may ruin your eligibility for Medicaid in the process.
Who Can Claim Veterans’ Benefits?
VA benefits may be claimed by either the veteran who qualifies for them or by the veteran’s widowed spouse. Qualifications for veterans’ benefits for veterans or their widowed spouse (husband or wife) are below.
- Veteran must have served at least 90 consecutive days on active duty with at least one day of active duty during a qualified war period.
- Veteran must have had an other than “dishonorable” discharge.
- Veteran and spouse should have less than $80,000 in household assets, excluding primary home, car, and personal belongings. If their assets total more than $50,000, it’s best to speak with an elder law or disability attorney for assistance in qualifying.
- Veteran's household out-of-pocket yearly medical expenses, including assisted living expenses, must exceed or come close to his or her total yearly household gross income.
- If the claimant is the vet’s widowed spouse, he or she must have been married to the veteran for at least one year, or have had children by the veteran if married less than one year, and must not have remarried.
- A widowed spouse must have been living with the veteran at the time of the veteran’s death, unless the separation was due to medical or military reasons.
Have you applied for veterans disability compensation before? Click here to learn how to reapply.