Listen to Lawrence…Veterans Day Message…Will the VA pay for my nursing home?

December 11, 2020
Dear clients and friends,
One of the privileges of being an elder law attorney is that I get to hear the life stories of my clients.  A general theme of these stories is their war experience and I encourage them to tell me all they can (even when their family members roll their eyes because they have heard the story told a thousand times before).  I cherish the service and sacrifice that others have made on behalf of all of us and our American way of life and I try to always listen to them and thank them for their service.
Today is Veterans Day and I suppose that fact prompted me to reflect on this theme.  As you know, Veterans Day honors all of those who have served the country in war or peace — dead or alive — and was originally called Armistice Day, commemorating the end of World War I. Interestingly, when I first started practicing law, a great deal of my clients were WWI vets. I miss them and their unique view of the world from just over 100 years ago now. For most of my career, my clients were WWII vets and it saddens me that we only have a few years left with them by our side as the youngest is about 95 years old now. Today, my veteran elder law clientele relate stories to me about the Korean and Vietnam wars and their stories are just as compelling.
To all who have served and serve today, THANK YOU!  Please keep telling me and others your stories.
I am a veteran and I get veterans benefits, including help with prescription drugs.  Will the VA pay for my nursing home?
Thank you for your service.  Unfortunately, the answer is probably, no.  The answer really depends upon whether or not you have a SERVICE RELATED DISABILITY.  However, having a service related disability is only the beginning of the analysis.  The VA rates the level of your disability. The real test is that you must have a service related disability rating of 70% or higher to be eligible. Usually clients who can walk into my office don’t qualify as being disabled enough, but that is not always the case.  Many factors go into it, including where you served, what you were exposed to (i.e., agent orange) and the nature of your condition.  If you have questions about this and other veterans rights, I would recommend you call your County Veteran Service Agency (VSA). Your local VSA will provide all veterans with FREE advice and advocacy.
If you do have a service related disability rated 70% or higher, then the VA will pay 100% of your nursing home bill, usually in a VA facility first, if a bed is available. For the record, the State VA nursing home in Stony Brook is one of the best nursing homes on Long Island. To be clear, all veterans can get into the VA facility, but the question as to whether the VA will pay for it comes down to the service related disability test. If the VA will not pay for your nursing home, you will have to pay for it yourself, purchase long term care insurance, or position your assets to qualify for Medicaid (perhaps with an irrevocable trust).
I hope this helps! Please forward this information to your friends and relatives.
As always, please send me your questions. If you are thinking about it, others are probably too, so my answers will no doubt help you and many others.
Let’s stay connected.
Stay safe!