VA Benefits Planning
VA Pension Aid & Attendance:
One of America’s Best-Kept Secrets
Helping Veterans and Surviving Spouses Pay for Long-Term Care
Substantial benefits are available to older wartime veterans who need long-term care. Many veterans and their families are not aware of these benefits. If a Veteran is eligible for basic Veterans Pension Benefits, his or her surviving spouse may also be eligible for the increased monthly pension amount under the VA Aid and Attendance or Housebound Pensions. The Aid and Attendance Pension amount is paid in conjunction with the basic Veterans Pension plan. Aid and Attendance is a means tested program, which means applicants must meet strict income and asset limitations. Careful planning can enable you or your loved one to collect the maximum benefit while protecting family assets to ensure quality care in the future.
Why Work with a VA Accredited Attorney?
Attorneys Timothy L. Takacs, CELA, Barbara McGinnis, CELA, and Chris Johnson have all received accreditation by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to prepare, present, and prosecute claims for veterans before the VA.
Accreditation refers to the authority granted by the VA to those attorneys who meet the standards established by the VA. VA's stated purpose in requiring attorney accreditation is to ensure that claimants for VA benefits receive "qualified assistance in preparing and presenting their claims."
To receive accreditation, federal law requires an attorney to complete continuing legal education covering, at a minimum, the following topics: VA representation, disability compensation, dependency and indemnity compensation and pension benefits, claim procedures, eligibility requirements, and appeal rights. An attorney must also establish that he or she is of good character and reputation.
The privilege of accreditation carries with it the responsibility to maintain specified standards of conduct and comply with the laws that govern VA representations, as set forth in the United States Code and the Code of Federal Regulations.
According to federal law, attorneys who do not receive VA accreditation are prohibited from assisting claimants in the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of VA claims, regardless of whether the attorney charges legal fees for those services. Unaccredited attorneys may only provide limited services to veterans, such as providing general information about VA benefits, and may not assist veterans in the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of their claims.
The VA also regulates the fees that may be charged by accredited attorneys. In general, an attorney cannot charge a VA claimant for assistance in filing an eligibility verification report (EVR); in order to charge legal fees for representation before VA, the agency must have issued an adverse decision on a VA claim for benefits, and the claimant must have filed a notice of disagreement (NOD), or an appeal, with respect to that adverse decision.
The VA accreditation system is designed to ensure that lawyers who represent VA claimants have a thorough understanding of the VA health and benefit systems, so that they may provide quality assistance in the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of those claims