Reed: Nursing home care benefits available to veterans

Sandra W. Reed
Special to the Reporter

Marshall, a widower, is a Vietnam veteran. His monthly income is limited to Social Security of $1,779 and $1,200 from a rental house he owns. He owns his own home, has a recent model car and savings of $75,000.

He wants to preserve as much as possible for his two children if he must go into a nursing home. Can he qualify for Medicaid to pay for this care? If not, what are there other options available to him other than private pay?

Sandra Reed

Income and asset limits make qualifying Marshall for medical difficult

Marshall’s income of $2,979.00 supersedes the $2,382.00 Medicaid limit. However, can meet the income level through a qualified income trust, frequently called a Miller Trust. Marshall’s home and automobile are noncountable assets, so they would not disqualify him either.

The rental property and the cash savings are countable resources placing his assets high above the $2,000.00 allowed to qualify for Medicaid. Marshall would have to sell the rental property and put the proceeds into a more expensive home and/or automobile. He would have to spend down all but $2,000.00 of his savings to qualify for Medicaid.

Nursing home care benefits available to veterans

Marshall meets the service requirements to qualify for admission to a state-operated nursing home for veterans. He is also enrolled in the VA health care system, which is a prerequisite for obtaining benefits from these nursing homes. The VA program is not means-tested, so Marshall can maintain his current assets.  

Marshall is pleased to learn that one such facility is in Temple, Texas, where he grew up. The home is convenient to Waco, where his children live. At current rates, this nursing home charges $147 a day.

However, the VA will pay $90 a day of this cost. Therefore, Marshall can obtain nursing home care at this facility for $1,767 a month for a semi-private room, far less than the $4,500 to $7,500.00 he would expect to pay in Fort Worth where he lives. Marshall doesn’t have a service-related disability, but if he did, the VA would pay 100% of his nursing home costs for room and board at the nursing home.     

Sandra W. Reed practices Elder Law in Somervell County, handling probating of estates, drafting of wills, trusts, powers of attorney and deeds as well as estate and Medicaid planning.  She lives on beautiful Chalk Mountain and can be reached at 254.797.0211; 817.946.2809 or at sreed@kbzlaw.com.