AID AND ATTENDANCE BENEFITS HELP MILITARY VETERANS WITH HEALTH AND HOMECARE COSTS

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Major issues are taking place around the world directly impacting our finances, which seem to be at the center of all things. Finances, aging, and health care. At our age what else is there?

If you’re a senior citizen then you know what I’m talking about. Creaky joints and forgetful episodes are the least of our problems. Health and homecare have become major issues to our population that continues to grow older. Where are we going to live? and who’s going to help us when tying our own shoelaces becomes a thing of the past? become big questions. How will we be able to take care of our physical and mental maladies when we can no longer afford to care for ourselves?

Many of us have to face these and similar health and home related issues head on every day, beginning as soon as we try getting up in the morning. Many aging military veterans dealing with real life home, homeless, and health issues seem to have it even tougher than the average citizen. Veterans return from distant wars having been exposed to many unhealthy toxins only to find inadequate healthcare awaits them. Many physical and mental challenges to deal with, yet our veterans have seemingly few healthy medical or homecare options available at home. If our veterans don’t end up sick and dying, they age. Like we all do. And we’re all aging at the same time in record numbers right now.

Senior veterans need to be aware that there is help available from the government and it’s called Aid and Attendance. Veterans can obtain benefits that can be applied to costs of a senior living community. But most vets and many senior living communities seem to be unaware of this benefit. Pass this information along.

If you’re a wartime veteran, or a surviving spouse of a wartime veteran, and you’re 65 years or older, you may be entitled to a tax-free benefit called Aid and Attendance provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The benefit is designed to provide financial aid to help offset the cost of long-term care for those who need assistance with the daily activities of living such as bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, and transferring.

PAID IN ADDITION TO A VETERAN’S BASIC PENSION

Aid and Attendance is a benefit paid by Veterans Affairs (VA) to veterans, veteran spouses or surviving spouses, and it is paid in addition to a veteran’s basic pension. According to California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform the benefit may not be paid without eligibility to a VA basic pension.

A pension is a benefit that the VA pays to wartime veterans who have limited or no income and who are at least 65 years old or, if under 65, are permanently or completely disabled. There are also “Death Pensions,” according to California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, which are needs based for a surviving spouse of a deceased wartime veteran who has not remarried.

Aid and Attendance is for applicants who need financial help for in-home care, to pay for an assisted living facility or nursing home. It is a non-service connected disability benefit, meaning the disability does not have to be a result of service. You cannot receive non-service and service-connected compensation at the same time.

Canhr.org also lists the service requirements for Aid and Attendance benefits. A veteran or the veteran’s surviving spouse may be eligible if the veteran: Was discharged from a branch of the United States Armed Forces under conditions that were not dishonorable AND Served 90 days of continuous military service (active duty), with at least one day during the following wartime periods (did not have to serve in combat):   World War I: April 6, 1917, through November 11, 1918; World War II: December 7, 1941, through December 31, 1946; Korean War: June 27, 1950, through January 31, 1955; Vietnam War: August 5, 1964 (February 28, 1961, for veterans who served “in country” before August 5, 1964), through May 7, 1975; Persian Gulf War: August 2, 1990, through a date to be set by Presidential Proclamation or Law.

If the veteran entered active duty after September 7, 1980, generally he or she must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which called or ordered to active duty, with certain exceptions.

MEDICAL QUALIFICATIONS FOR AID AND ATTENDANCE BENEFITS

In listing the medical qualifications for Aid and Attendance benefits, veteranaid.org says a wartime veteran or surviving spouse must need the assistance of another person to perform daily tasks, such as eating, dressing, undressing, taking care of the needs of nature, etc. Blind individuals, patients in a nursing home for mental or physical incapacity, or residents in an assisted living facility also qualify. Any application will require medical evaluation from a physician, current medical issues, net worth limitations, and net income, along with out-of-pocket expenses.

Veteranaid.org says financial qualifications must have an average of less than $80,000 in assets, excluding their home and vehicles.

A veteran can receive up to $2,846 monthly with the Aid and Attendance benefit, says americanveteransaid.com. The Website provides a Benefit Table that lists qualifying benefits as such:

Status                                                  Monthly Benefit Amount

  • Surviving Spouse                                       $1,176
  • Single Veteran                                            $1,830
  • Married Veteran                                        $2,169
  • Two Vets Married                                      $2,903

Aid and Attendance benefits are tax free.

MORE VETERAN AID IS ON THE WAY

Steven Monroe says there are other organizations helping seniors and American veterans as well. Monroe, writing for the SeniorCare Investor at senoircare.levinassociates.com, cites Luke’s Wings, which provides air travel for families to visit vets in the hospital, or in the case of seniors, when they are in hospice care.

Militaryoneclick.com – which connects caregivers of U.S. veterans with the essential resources needed to strengthen the family support foundation; American Freedom Foundation – supports veterans helping to empower and enable them to lead confident and productive lives; Fisher House Foundation – provides a “home away from home” for military families to be close to a loved one during hospitalization; Homes for Heroes Foundation – coordinates financial assistance and housing resources to the Heroes of our nation such as Military personnel, Police/Peace Officers, Firefighters and First Responders who are in need; Hope for The Warriors – helps enhance the quality of life for post-9/11 service member, their families, and the families of the fallen who have sustained physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty.

I encourage all military veterans to keep searching for available resources for your home and health needs. There are many people out there who care about what you’re going through. More help is on the way. Positive changes are being made within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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MARRIED WOMEN SHOULD UNDERSTAND THEIR FAMILY FINANCES BEFORE DEATH OR DIVORCE PART THEM FROM THEIR MONEY

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I recently read a timely article at bloomberg.com, talking about the difficulties many post divorce women face financially, due to them not having participated in the handling of family finances while they were married.  Back then, their spouses handled the finances, who turned out to be better equipped in dealing with family related financial issues after the divorce was completed. Now, as newly single women, many wives who had left the money matters to the men, wish they hadn’t.

In Rise of ‘Gray’ Divorce Forces Financial Reckoning After 50, Suzanne Woolley writes of how “too many women” let their husbands make the long-term financial decisions, which has left them vulnerable when separation or death strikes.  That’s why it’s so important for any woman, married or not, young or old, to take the time to learn about the finances that affect them and their families, before death or divorce throw ungodly financial surprises upon you.  This is a regular instance with many family law clients. Many women, looking deer-lost in headlights, not having really any clear idea of the true nature of their family finances, seek legal advice related to family financial matters.  Surprise and shock are common responses when discussing the issues surrounding the division of community property. Issues related to income, expenses, assets, and debts might be clouded, personal property and community property commingled, or assets going unaccounted for.

By developing understanding of your financial affairs you will be better prepared to make the big financial decisions that you might have let your spouses make when you were still married.  Understanding family finances better helps to avoid the “nasty surprises” at the end, that your divorce lawyer will have to help you clean up.

Woolley notes some interesting facts relating to women and their investing, citing statistics from a survey found in a report called, “Own Your Worth,” which was released by UBS Global Wealth Management.

  • 56 percent of married women still leave major investing and financial planning decisions to their spouse.  
  • 61 percent of millennial women said they leave investment decisions to their husbands.
  • 54 percent of baby boomer women leave investment decisions to their husbands.
  • Twice as many men as women in the UBS survey said they were highly knowledgeable about investing.
  • Three-quarters of the women surveyed said they don’t know much about investing.

Woolley’s article also cites a stark difference between married women and women who were divorced or widowed regarding the “making (of) major financial decisions” during their marriage  She cites, for example, that:

  • 59 percent of widows and divorcees regret not taking part in long-term financial planning when they were a couple.
  • 85 percent of married women who weren’t active in making long-term financial decisions said their spouse knows more about financial issues than they do.
  • Eighty percent of women said they were content with how financial responsibilities were handled in their marriage.

The report concluded that a majority of married women are still handing over to their spouses important financial decisions that will profoundly affect their futures.  Women and divorcees who now find themselves alone wish they had been more involved in finances while they were married, says the UBS Global Wealth Management Report. Nearly all of them advise other women to get more involved early on and “break the cycle of financial abdication.”

WOMEN SHOULD BREAK THE CYCLE OF FINANCIAL ABDICATION

The UBS report cites “eight out of 10” divorced or widowed women who remarried as finding themselves to be “more active in the financial decision-making in their current relationship.”  Ninety-four percent of widows and divorcees surveyed insist on complete financial transparency with their spouse.

Again, for all women who are trying to make it work financially, you have one financial bottom line, and that is if you haven’t already — get involved now!  Wake up to the economic realities we all face right now in trying to move our families forward in a healthy and prosperous way. When the divorce comes about, you will be prepared in important aspects.  Remember that subsequent marriages have a higher rate of dissolving than do first marriages. So understand the income, expenses, assets and debts formula your family operates under now.

If you are a married woman, be involved with your husband when making all financial decisions.  You’re signature and / or consent is going to be required for most family related financial instruments, so you might as well understand what you are signing, and why.  If a divorcing woman understands her finances, and she can communicate rationally and intelligently with her spouse, come time for the divorce, she can conceivably steer the mediation of the division of the community property and in the long run save her and her family a lot of money and emotional expense.  If she needs an attorney or divorce mediator to help her with the process, she can always hire a family law specialist.

FAMILIES MUST PREPARE FOR DEVASTATING FINANCIAL HURRICANE

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It was enough to make a grown man cry.  And it did.  Giant crocodile tears for the images he had just seen.  And they wouldn’t go away.  Children were torn from mothers’ fingers by vicious torrents of water created by something unnatural.  Entire cities were leveled right before our eyes.  If one were to listen to the mass media they would believe that Mother Nature had for some unmerciful reason dealt mankind another devastating blow of death, destruction, and horror.

Others might equate what happened this past week in the Philippines as one more in a series of indicators of the mythical Armageddon coming to fruition.  The sheer force and magnitude of destruction felt in Asia were unprecedented.  In the U.S., we too have witnessed up close the kind of havoc these unnatural storms have caused.  We’ve recently absorbed the loss of family and life to Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast.  Before that we cringed at the horrific images produced by Hurricane Katrina.  We helplessly watched children cling to toys while posed in cyclonic death in Kansas and Oklahoma.

Children and families are being destroyed at an unprecedented rate on this planet and it is important that heads of families recognize this.  It’s important that members of families come to grips with the fact that their greatest enemy is probably not the person sitting across the dinner table from them or occupying the dimple in the mattress next door.

And parents need to wake up!  Because if we don’t, our families will suffer the way those poor families on the news are suffering.  And it will prove devastating.  But the tidal wave being created here is not yet a tsunami of natural proportions.  It won’t be an earthquake like the one that hit Japan or Haiti or Chile.  This disaster is different.  It will be unprecedented in magnitude and it will be like an earthquake, a tsunami, a hurricane, a cyclone, and a nuclear attack all rolled into one when it hits.

The slow kill we are presently experiencing is on a subtler financial scale.  Slowly all of our financial assets and resources (as were our civil rights) are being stripped away from us.  We are losing every aspect of our wealth one piece at a time.  Inflation eats up our ability to save money.  Stagnant interest rates prevent the average person from making money on his money.  The housing bubble and foreclosure trap continue to squeeze the last savings and living opportunities from parents trying to put a roof over their families’ heads and people just trying to get in out of the cold.

The national debt is in the high trillions and it can never be repaid.  China and Russia have bought up all the gold and will benefit dramatically when the precious metal lid finally lifts, and these two global superpowers have begun a new financial development deal between themselves and all the other BRICS countries, territories, and republics, and we – you, I, and our kids – are going to be left holding the cold, lifeless, overflowing bag of national debt.  And there’s nothing we can do about it.

Just like there is nothing you and I are going to be able to do about the debt ceiling, which will again raise its ugly head, in a much bigger way, this coming January, because, whether we like it or not – and trust me, we won’t – like every other ‘balloon’ the banksters have ever inflated, this one too will sooner, probably rather than later, burst.  And when it does (probably by the end of 2014), most of us are going to be swept away by a tsunami of debt, no money, and no jobs, which will spell doom for the family unit as we know it.

And there’s nobody that’s going to come and save us.  From Ventura, California to New York, New York, the economy that directly affects the average person’s ability to take care of his family will disappear and take most of us with it.

So what can we do about it?  We can cry.  Or…we can prepare to survive.  And we can begin the process of preparation for survival – for ourselves, our families, and our children – right now by searching for the truth and becoming educated.  And we’re not looking for the kind of truth that’s created by telling the same lie so many times it becomes truth, but for a deeper, more meaningful truth.  One from the heart.  A truth that begins with the understanding that right now we live in an incredibly dangerous world, and at any moment a tsunami or some other major catastrophe or comet strike could devastate us, and we must be ready, and we must do what we can to keep our families and our children protected, and we must do it now.

We need to prepare so that if, for instance, some Friday afternoon after we deposit our paycheck in the bank, and the bank closes for the weekend at the end of the business day, and then on Sunday, our daughter gets sick.  So on Monday we decide we need to take some money out of the bank to pay for our daughter’s doctor’s visit, because we don’t have a regular paying job, and therefore we don’t have health insurance, and we find out that our bank, that holds all of our life’s savings in it, has suddenly and inexplicably, and without any warning, gone on ‘holiday’ and taken all of our money with them.

So now what?

There is no now what?  We can’t let that happen, period, or we’re dead.  So we get prepared.  We commit the time to research the necessary means to protect family and children right now, before it’s too late.  We have no time to procrastinate.  Emergency kits need to be prepared, emergency plans must be drawn up.  And if the kids are old enough to understand what this is all about, they too must be brought up to speed on what we are doing.  So forget about the plans to needlessly break the family up just yet.  Stop having the egoic need to always be right, and, for a change, be right.

Do the research.  Find the truth.  And prepare.  Buy emergency supplies, yesterday.  Buy lots of water.  Buy duct tape.  Buy cans of organic beans.  Buy silver and gold.  And be prepared for the banks to one day next year take a vacation with our money.  They will try to ‘bail in’ the last of our savings deposits and retirement accounts.  They will set us ablaze with a tsunami of debt, and those of us who can’t get out the system in time, or who go unprepared, will be swept out to sea.  It’s guaranteed.  Financially, it happened in Cyprus and then in Poland.  The Poles are protesting in the streets by the tens of thousands just like the Cypriots had done before them, and the Greeks before them.  It also happened in the Philippines, but in a much different and much more violent and insidious way.  And it is happening to us, here, right now, and slowly.  It is financial.  It is family.  It is slow kill.  We need to wake up, put away the tears, and prepare.

FAMILY FINANCES MAIN REASON COUPLES DIVORCE

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It’s no surprise to anyone living north of a rock that finances are everything.  They make the world turn.  They allow us the luxury to be able to afford to attend Lakers’ games, pay our bills, and, hopefully, to put the food and nutrition on our families’ tables each night so that our children may one day grow up to be healthy and prosper in an otherwise desperately competitive world.  Finances – and all the accompanying ‘money’ problems – are also the major reason married couples divorce.

Every marriage in the history of mankind has been terminated by one of two reasons:  death or divorce.  The former is the easy way out.  Once you’re pushing up daisies it really doesn’t matter what others are doing or saying about you, because, well, it’s all over for you.  But divorce is a tangible of life that can, if those involved care enough about each other, and they spend the time and intelligence dealing with their problems and working through their disagreements, end up a success.

Financial struggles in marriage can be worked out through cooler heads.  But it often takes time.  And patience.  And communication.  And the need to understand the true basis of the failing marriage, and the financial problems inherent therein.  Truth in understanding the true nature of the problem is critical in creating a strong and healthy basis for any successful change.

One truth in marriage that’s important to understand is what causes financial distress and the ultimate breakdown between two people who once made a vow of love and death to each other.  There is much room to disagree on this subject, and many do, and then they divorce.  Others, who call themselves experts and talk on TV and radio shows cite the statistics that show that couples who financially disagree early on in their relationships are likely to divorce over the same issues.  This results regardless of their income levels, expenses, asset accrual, or debt limits.  If money is a problem now in your relationship, it will be a problem later.  You can count on it.

According to many of these same experts, financial arguments in the marriage are probably indicative of more deep-seeded issues between the couple.  Control, trust, and power can provide the basis for who gets what financially in any relationship.  And if there’s children involved, the financial conflicts can multiply exponentially.

Others may be experiencing personal financial catastrophes ranging from bad credit to unemployment.  Couples who are unable to learn to communicate with each other through the stress of their financial ordeals can drown in their relationships.  They can find themselves isolated with an inability to handle the physical, mental, and emotional stresses that financial pressures can bring.

Married couples may also come from vastly different backgrounds and belief systems that might affect the way they deal with one another in financial matters.  This might be based on the practices and beliefs of the family one grows up in.  One of the spouses may spend a high percentage of family earnings on cars or personal affects that might reflect their status within the neighborhood or community.  The other spouse, in turn, might be concerned with saving everything they can for future family and child security.  This type of conflict creates tremendous stress for families battling today’s economic realities.

And then what?  Divorce?  Or, might there be some reasonable alternative to divorcing due to financial strain?  Maybe it would take some time (and effort), but maybe this couple – who is so stressed out because of the financial reality and their illusionary existence – could communicate at the core and work things out.  But where will they start?  We will begin that discussion next.  Where married couples, or any couples for that matter, or any person, can find a tip or three on how to financially afford to stay together, to keep the family together, to protect the children, and to possibly keep everybody alive.  Without financial considerations, there is no marriage.