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Answers For Alzheimer’s Workshop – Saturday March 2, 2013


As an Elder Law attorney, at least half of the families who come into my office are living with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s. From what I’ve seen, education is vital to help families understand the disease, and get the legal planning in place to protect the financial resources needed to ensure that loved one’s quality of life.

So I want to invite everyone to join me at the Answers For Alzheimer’s Workshop, Saturday March 2, 2013. This will be a one-day Workshop on a range of issues important to families dealing with Alzheimer’s. The event is being held at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Academic Classroom Building, Room 110. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. Lunch is provided.

I’ll be speaking on the legal planning that helps pay for Alzheimer’s care. Other topics will include: current research, driving, managing difficult behaviors, and stages of the disease.

Come with your questions ready, and take advantage of some great resources for Alzheimer’s care assembled in one place. We’re all in this together!

By the way, hope you didn’t miss this amazing story on some cutting edge Alzheimer’s research:



There’s nothing more red, white and blue than the annual Texas Tech Red Raider Battalion ROTC ball. Miss Texas made an appearance as the date of Cadet Luke Guffey. And get this – he asked her to accompany him to the event in a video he posted on the internet! The night’s featured speaker was Maj. Gen. Walter B. Huffman (Ret.), a former Judge Advocate General, decorated Vietnam veteran and the recipient of the 1995 Texas Tech Distinguished Alumni award.

You can read more about the ROTC Ball here:



If you’re a veteran with medical expenses, you may qualify for a Special Pension for Veterans, which could provide you with up to $1,949 per month, even if your disability is not service-connected.

This little-known pension benefit, commonly known as Aid and Attendance (A&A), can provide a monthly income to offset the cost of needed medical care. It’s available to veterans and the widowed spouses of veterans who meet the eligibility and income criteria. [Read more…]


Even if you were not injured while on active duty with the military, you may still qualify for certain Veterans benefits. These little-known benefits can provide you with monthly payments to help pay for medical expenses, even if your injury or illness was not received while on active duty.

For veterans, and their surviving spouses, who have medical need that requires at home or nursing home care, whether or not the medical need arises due to an injury or illness received while on active duty, there is a Special Monthly Pension, sometimes called a “Housebound” pension or “Aid and Attendance” benefit. To be eligible for the Aid and Attendance Benefit there are specific requirements for the veteran’s time of service (must have at least one day of service during a “time of war” and 90 days of active duty service), medical need (either 65 years of age or older or able to show permanent total disability) and financial need.

The Special Monthly Pension is not just for those veterans who were injured while on active duty. Many veterans and their surviving spouses are now reaching old age, along with some of the debilitating illnesses that occur with old age. If the veteran or his or her surviving spouse can demonstrate financial need, they may qualify for up to $1,949 in monthly benefit.

This is different than Disability Compensation, which is a monthly income benefit for a veteran who was injured or who obtained a disease while on active duty (a service-connected disability). The monthly income paid through Disability Compensation is based on the extent of the injury or disease. To receive the compensation benefit, the veteran’s injury must be reviewed and determined as to its level of severity from 0% to 100% in 10% increments. A key point to note is that the Disability Compensation benefit is not reduced by the veteran’s income, either earned or unearned, or by the veteran’s net worth.

There are a number of benefits available to veterans who served our country, but finding your way through the maze of the Veterans Administration can be a challenge. As with all veterans’ benefits, it’s important to seek the guidance of someone who knows the ins and outs of the system.

Only employees of the Veterans Administration, an authorized representative of a veteran’s service organization such as VFW, or is an attorney accredited with the VA who is also licensed in your state can provide you with advice and guidance about veterans benefits.  You may also benefit from the advice of an estate planning or elder law attorney and a CPA, who can help you structure your assets and income to best meet your health and financial well-being. But be aware, not all estate planning attorneys are accredited with the VA, but many attorneys accredited with the VA are also elder care or estate planning attorneys.

Finally, it’s important to note that under federal law, no one can charge to assist you with completing VA paperwork. You can search the VA web site for a VA-accredited attorney in your state at:http://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/index.asp

If you are in the Lubbock, TX or West Texas area, give us a call and we will be happy to discuss your situation.


An estate plan is often thought of as something that only elderly people or people with a lot of money need. But a basic estate plan is important no matter what your net worth is, and especially important if you are:

  • A parent of a minor child
  • A homeowner
  • A small business owner
  • In a committed relationship but not married
  • In receipt of an inheritance of property or other assets

Even a basic estate plan will ensure your wishes are adhered to after you die. [Read more…]


Today, I thought I would take some time to give you the top ten mistakes I routinely see people make in Medicaid Planning and Estate Planning. These are for your information, and as always, I encourage you to seek legal advice for your specific situation if you think you may be about to make one of these missteps.

1. Failing to seek competent legal advice and to sign legal documents prepared to fit your family’s particular needs. Generic plans can’t anticipate your family’s individual circumstances. [Read more…]


If you are a Veteran or a Widow of a Veteran, you may be able to obtain tax free income from the VA to help pay for the cost of home health care, assisted living care, and nursing home care. The benefit is referred to as “Improved Pension” or “Non-Service Connected Pension.” This simply means that the benefit is not related to a service-connected injury; rather, it is a pension benefit that may be available due to the Veteran’s service to our country.In addition to the Pension, a person who is housebound or in need of the assistance of another person with activities of daily living may receive additional pay called Housebound Benefits or Aid and Attendance Benefits, which is a supplement to the Pension. The basic eligibility requirements are detailed below:

I. Basic Eligibility Criteria for Pension, Housebound and Aid and Attendance

All of the following criteria must be met before a veteran or widow(er) of a veteran can receive Improved Pension benefits:

  1. The veteran must have served at least 90 days of active service with at least one day of service during one of the following VA approved Wartime periods.

WWII – December 7, 1941 thru December 31, 1946
Korean War – June 27, 1950 thru January 31, 1955
Vietnam Era – August 5, 1964 thru May 7, 1975 (if serving anywhere)
Vietnam Era – February 28, 1961 thru May 7, 1975 (if in the Country of Vietnam)
Persian Gulf – August 2, 1990 thru the present

  1. The veteran must have received a discharge that is anything other than dishonorable.
  2. If the veteran is alive, he must be over the age of 65 OR rated 100% disabled.
  3. For a widow(er), they must have been married to the Veteran at their time of death and not have remarried after the death.

II. Improved Base Pension Rates

The claimant must meet all the criteria above (exception: Widowed spouses are not required to be over the age of 65). There is no set limit on how much net worth or income a claimant can have, but net worth cannot be excessive. The decision as to whether a claimant’s net worth is excessive depends on the facts of each individual case. The amount of net worth/assets and income a claimant is permitted depends on a number of factors including, but not limited to: the age of the claimant and the amount of un-reimbursed medical expenses incurred by the claimant and the claimant’s spouse.

BASE Pension Income Rates for 2012 the Claimant may be eligible for:

  1. Veteran with no dependents –  $1,021/month; $12,256/year
  2. Veteran with one dependent –  $1,337/month; $16,051/year
  3. Widow(er) with no dependents –  $684/month; $8,219/year
  4. Healthy Veteran with Ill Spouse –  $1,337/month; $16,051/year

III. Housebound Benefits

Housebound Benefits are an enhanced special monthly pension benefit paid in addition to basic pension. A claimant may not receive this addition without first establishing eligibility for basic VA pension. Pension benefits with a Housebound supplement are available to a veteran or widow(er) of a veteran who is determined to be disabled and is essentially confined to the home. The two ways to prove entitlement include:

  1. A single permanent disability rated as 100% disabling under the VA schedule and confined to the dwelling, or
  2. A 100% disability with another 60% disability, regardless of whether or not the person is confined to the dwelling.

Notwithstanding in the above two methods of proof requiring some sort of disability, a disability rating is not required for people aged 65 or older.

Pension with Housebound Status Income Rates for 2012 the Claimant may be eligible for:

  1. Housebound veteran with no dependents –  $1,248/month; $14,978/year
  2. Housebound veteran with one dependent –  $1,564/month; $18,773/year
  3. Housebound widow(er) without dependents –  $837/month; $10,046/year

IV. Aid & Attendance (A&A)

Aid and Attendance is an enhanced special monthly pension benefit paid in addition to basic pension. A claimant may not receive this addition without first establishing eligibility for basic VA pension. Pension benefits with an Aid & Attendance supplement are available to a veteran or widow(er) of a veteran who meets at least one of the following conditions:

  1. Claimant is blind; OR
  2. Claimant is a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity; OR
  3. Claimant is unable to:
      1. dress/undress or keep self clean and presentable
      2. unable to attend to the wants of nature OR
      3. Claimant requires the aid of another person in order to perform his or her activities of daily living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting himself/herself from the hazards of his/her daily environment; OR
      4. Claimant is bedridden, in that his/her disability or disabilities requires that he/she remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment.

Pension with A&A Status Income Rates for 2012 the Claimant may be eligible for:

  1. Veteran with no dependents –  $1,703/month; $20,447/year
  2. Veteran with one dependent –  $2,019/month; $24,239/year
  3. Widow(er) with no dependents –  $1,094/month; $13,138/year
  4. Healthy Veteran with Ill Spouse –  $1,337/month; $16,051/year
    – veteran can get pension only when alive and spouse needs assistance

V. Accreditation by VA

As of June 23, 2008, the VA began REQUIRING that ANYONE who assists a veteran or family member with the preparation, presentation and prosecution of a claim for benefits to be accredited by and through the VA BEFORE they can legally provide assistance. Thus, to protect yourself while going through the VA process, make sure you are using an accredited agent. To check if a person is accredited, you can go to: United States Department of Veterans Affairs Accreditation Search and type in their name for confirmation. (A one-time agent – usually a family member – does not need to be accredited).

 The Benefits of Working with an Expert in Veterans Benefits


Elder Law Attorney Vetereans Benefits - Aid and Attendance

There are many estate planning attorneys, CPAs, and even elder care attorneys who can advise you on a lot of issues related to financial and estate planning. But notmany attorneys are accredited with the Veterans Administration, and without that accreditation, they cannot legally provide you with any assistance for veterans benefits.

There are many benefits available to veterans in different circumstances. Benefits are not only for those veterans who received a combat injury, or those who served overseas. All veterans have served this country, regardless of the branch of service, or whether they saw combat, or where they were stationed. And all veterans deserve the full benefits they are entitled to. [Read more…]