Ohio Elder Law Lawyer’s Answer to: “Can a Surviving Spouse Qualify for VA Benefits?”
May 28th, 2012
In Ohio, elder law lawyers can usually help a veteran’s widowed spouse increase her/his chances of qualifying for veterans’ spouse benefits. Veterans’ survivor benefits are also available for surviving minor children of deceased veterans.
Unfortunately, not all spouses of veterans are aware that they have survivor benefits available to them. Often, veterans’ benefits were a subject that the spouse left up to the veteran while he or she was alive and after their death didn’t think to ask about them when they had need of them.
At our Ohio elder law lawyer’s office, it’s not uncommon for the widowed spouse of a veteran to come to us long after the veteran’s death, when they are in need of financial or medical assistance, to ask about veterans’ spouse benefits.
Surviving spouses of veterans can qualify for up to $13,138 per year in VA benefits, or $15,673 if she/he also has a dependent child. The actual amount the spouse will qualify for depends on the claimant’s level of need:
Basic Service Pension (minimum for qualified spouses)
- $8,219 per year/$10,759 per year with a dependent child
Housebound rating (unable to leave the home unattended or in assisted living)
- $10,046 per year/$12,582 per year with a dependent child
Aid & Attendance (blind, in nursing home and/or requires assistance for at least two basic daily living activities, such as bathing, eating, dressing, toileting)
- $13,138 per year/$15,673 per year with a dependent child
Additional children increase benefits by $2,093 per child per year.
Minor children of deceased veterans can also qualify for veterans’ survivor benefits.
Ohio Elder Law Lawyer Explains Qualifications for Veterans’ Spouse Benefits
To qualify for veterans’ spouse benefits, the surviving spouse must meet the same income guidelines as the veteran would. That means that the total monthly out-of-pocket medical expenses of the household must exceed or come close to exceeding the total monthly income of the household. Additionally, assets (not including primary home, care or personal belongings) cannot exceed $50,000. However, it’s important to note that the $50,000 number is not a hard and fast rule and may be adjusted based on the claimant’s life expectancy.
If you are having trouble meeting the income guidelines, an Ohio elder law lawyer may be able to help you. An experienced attorney can often identify additional qualifying expenses that can zero-out your income or help you manage your assets so you can qualify for VA benefits.
In addition to the income guidelines, surviving spouses must also meet the following qualifications:
- 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, an never remarried
- 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
Because of the strict qualifications for veterans’ spouse benefits and veterans survivor benefits, applying for VA benefits is best done with the assistance of a knowledgeable Ohio elder law lawyer. In Ohio, the elder law firm of Gudorf Law Group, LLC, can assist in obtaining veterans benefits. Call Ohio elder law lawyer Ted Gudorf at 1-877-483-6730 to schedule a free consultation.