Tag: Long-Term Care

Tips for Florida Seniors in Light of the Changes to the VA Pension Rules

The concept of paying for long-term care in Florida can be daunting. According to the Genworth Long-Term Care Study for 2018, assisted living costs per month average $3,500 while the cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home is approximately $8,150.  For the majority of Florida seniors, they do not have these additional funds available in their monthly income and are looking to pay for care either through savings or public benefits assistance.

 

When the need for long-term care arises, it is often a crisis. For example, the Florida senior may have a fall that results in a broken bone and the need for rehabilitation in a skilled nursing facility. If the need for assistance becomes more permanent, he or she may not be able to leave the facility or require extensive hands-on care upon the return home.

 

How do we plan now to afford long-term care in the future? Are we able to plan for what we may need in advance? Further, how can we ensure that we have a plan in place so that we, as Florida seniors, are making our decisions of how we want to be cared for and not leaving the choices to our adult children or decision makers?

 

Elder law planning contemplates all these needs. Together, we can design a plan that may not only find a way to pay for care but also ensure that you receive good care. In Florida, programs such as Medicaid exist to help us pay for the cost of long-term care. If you are a Florida veteran, however, there also may be additional funds available to you.

 

For wartime veterans, the VA pension program exists to provide monthly, tax-free income to veterans with a qualifying service record. The VA pension program is in no way tied to a service-connected injury or disability. Instead, it is tied to the service record of the veteran. To begin to qualify, the veteran must have 90 days of active military service with one day during a period of war. Further, the veteran must have been discharged under conditions that were other than dishonorable.

 

The rules governing the eligibility for the VA pension program change substantially last year on October 18, 2018. Prior to this date there was no set amount that the veteran, or his or her surviving spouse, could have in countable assets. Now, for 2019, the new rules created a limit. The veteran may only have $126,240, less excluded assets that he or she is allowed to own. We anticipate this amount will change each year with a cost of living increase similar to the Social Security program.

 

Another way this program changed was to create a “look back” period. A “look back” period is the time period in which the VA may look at the veterans bank records to determine if he or she gave away money that could have been used to pay for care. This type of program is currently in place for the Florida Medicaid program, although it operates slightly differently. Under the new VA rules, the “look back” period will be for the thirty-six months prior to application.

 

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. We encourage you to reach out and ask us your questions on this, or any elder care issue. When it comes to finding ways to access good long-term care in our community and be able to afford it, we are your local law firm here to help you.

Going Through a “Gray Divorce” Requires Keeping an Eye on Retirement

We know that going through a divorce can be a traumatic experience for anyone at any age. Younger and middle-aged couples often face the unfortunate challenge of splitting up with children involved. Older couples face their own harrowing challenges, particularly if they have been married for a long time and are beyond their prime working years.

Many older adults no longer possess the desire to climb the corporate ladder or compete in the job market, if they are able to work at all. Further, with their shared nest eggs and investments that can be greatly reduced through a separation, it is recommended that older couples keep an eye on their retirement accounts when going through a “Gray” Divorce.

As always, meeting with an experienced attorney should be one of your first steps if you are considering a divorce. When it comes to separating later in life a consultation with an estate planning and elder law attorney is critical so you may discuss the impact on your long-term care options. Let us share a few tips to help you through this process.

1. Seek wise counsel. Obtaining a qualified attorney is a must, but a financial advisor or attorney with estate planning experience can be an added advantage. They can help organize long-term retirement goals, set up estate documents, and provide information and guidance for negotiating a favorable divorce settlement.

2. Obtain documents. Whether you or your spouse was in charge of your legal, financial, insurance and tax documents, it can be critically important to obtain copies for your divorce negotiations and retirement planning. Think of these items as the bedrock for your financial future.

3. Be financially prudent. It is true that there is more to life than money, as evidenced by the love and compassion that once led to your marriage. Money, however, is an inescapable part of life, and the older one gets the more important financial stability becomes.

4. Make sound financial decisions. This is important throughout the course of a “Gray” Divorce proceeding, as well as, with post-divorce decisions about the lifestyle one can realistically afford. A healthy goal would be the funding a comfortable, long-term retirement and building up from there. It may be easier said than done, but it is not impossible.

Knowing that you are financially supported in your latter, non-working years can bring peace of mind during a difficult time. It may also allow you to live out your golden years with a greater sense of enjoyment amid your new family circumstances. Do not wait to contact us with your questions