Since the A&A pension is based upon financial need, a veteran or widow(er) will not receive the benefit without meeting certain minimum asset levels. The VA refers to these asset requirements as “net worth”. The net worth requirements considers the assets of the veteran; and it also considers the assets of the veteran’s dependent (the spouse) if the veteran is married. All assets are considered in the net worth determination, except where those assets are specifically exempt such as a vehicle and a home. This means that all real property, bank accounts, life insurance cash value, stock and bonds, IRAs, retirement accounts, boats, cars and trucks count toward the net worth determination. And, in limited circumstances, the net worth of an adult child living in the home of the veteran or widow(er) may also be counted.
Calculating the appropriate net worth level is involved. There is no set asset level. A common misunderstanding is that the value of $80,000 is a given figure. This is not necessarily true as, in recent years, the VA has been applying a life expectancy analysis to the value of the veteran’s or widow(er)’s net worth. In one case, a 95-year old veteran was denied his A&A pension even though he had little more than $35,000.
It is important that you work with an attorney who has experience with these net worth determinations and all available methods for decreasing net worth levels. Let Attorney Emma Hemness guide you through these rules and regulations so that you have the best possibility of success.
When Is There a Fee for Assistance?
Attorneys may charge a legal planning fee to assess whether there are any benefits you may be eligible for through the VA and develop a comprehensive plan to enable you to achieve these benefits. However, no one, not even an attorney, can charge you to assist with the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of your claim.