“Do I need to hire a lawyer to get the VA Pension benefits?”

“Do I need to hire a lawyer to get the VA Pension benefits?”

"Do I need to hire a lawyer to get the VA Pension benefits?"Let’s break this down into a few different questions first.

Do you need to consult a lawyer?

This is a question that’s very legitimate, it also can be asked in almost any type of legal setting.

You may be dealing with problem on your credit report.

Do you need a lawyer to help?

You may say, “I need to get a will,” or “I want to incorporate a business.”

Whatever it may be, maybe it’s even a lawsuit.

You ask, “Do I need a lawyer?”

Here are a couple of questions for you:

Do you have too many assets?

My rule of thumb for assets is about $40,000 for a married veteran and $20,000 for a single veteran or surviving spouse.

If you do, then it may be that you need to transfer some of those assets to qualify.

Which assets should you transfer?

How should you transfer?

When should you transfer them?

I would suggest if you’re in that situation, it makes a lot of sense to sit down with a lawyer because nobody else can give you legal advice.

Nobody else should give you legal advice, because that is called the unauthorized practice of law.

We see people all the time giving legal advice, and I’m afraid that folks don’t understand when they do that is if someone holds themselves out as “Oh, Suzie, let me give you this legal advice” they are held to the standard of a lawyer.

So if that financial advisor gives wrong legal advice, it will be a problem for them.

What about your income? Is your income too high?

Do you have options to legitimately, and within the rules, lower that income?

Maybe you have family members that are providing care.

Can you pay those family members?

Again, I would suggest to you that it makes a lot of sense to sit down with an elder law VA accredited lawyer to find out if it’s an option.

Especially since you don’t want to be paying somebody and not have the correct documentation, the correct procedure, in place.

Also, you always have to keep an eye on Alabama Medicaid and, if you’re in another state, the Medicaid where you live.

You always have to keep an eye on the Medicaid because we see people that are given bad advice – and they are allowed to qualify for VA – and then six months later, they have to go into a nursing home.

Now they’re looking at Medicaid and Medicaid will say, “You did some stuff that don’t fit Medicaid rules or you didn’t have the correct Personal Services Contract or Caregiver Agreement and now we’re going to penalize you.”

You definitely want to avoid that.

If you are going to talk to a lawyer, who do you talk to?

First of all, make sure your attorney is a VA accredited lawyer.  

You can look on the VA website at www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/.

You can ask the lawyer about it and they should tell you whether or not they are accredited.

Even if they’re accredited, make sure that they practice in what’s called “elder law” because they need to understand how these two things come together.

Medicaid pays for all of your nursing home care – every dollar of it.

That’s a pretty remarkable benefit.

However, Medicaid has much different rules than the VA to qualify with assets, with income, with giving away assets.

The VA right now, you can give away assets today and tomorrow you can qualify.

Now, Congress is trying to change that even as this is written in November 2013, but that’s completely different  than Medicaid.

We may still give away or transfer assets, but we have to do it in the context of understanding Medicaid.

So make sure whoever you talk to can give you that type of advice.

Contact Us.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with us.

You can reach us by phone at 1-205-879-2447, or you can fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you. 

We look forward to talking with you, and we will also be glad to help you figure out your best course of action.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

-John G. Watts

Leave a Comment