Hurley Elder Care Law Newsletter - October 2018

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October 2018  

Serving Our Veterans in a Time of Change

Today’s older veterans deserve recognition for their commitment, service and sacrifice. Undoubtedly, our country is what it is today because of what they gave.  We owe them so much.

Every day we talk to veterans and their families about benefits that they are entitled to. Oftentimes, these veterans are completely unaware that their service from decades ago matters today.

Most notably, our elder law attorneys help families secure VA Pension with Aid and Attendance benefits. This cash benefit is tax-free and helps cover an eligible veteran’s (or surviving spouse’s) costs for caregivers, nursing homes or assisted living. The benefit is a sizable amount—for some it can be up to $2,169/month. 
Unfortunately, many veterans don’t know that they can qualify for benefits from the VA.  After their service they may have used the VA education benefits or a home loan through the VA, but they mistakenly believed that only veterans with service-related injuries qualify for other services.  Or they have heard horror stories about veterans applying and being denied benefits after a lengthy process.

What Benefits Are Available?
Disability Compensation—Many Vietnam War Vets who had “boots on the ground” between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975, are assumed to have exposure to Agent Orange (a herbicide used extensively in the war).  This exposure presumptively causes a number of illnesses that these veterans now have, such as Diabetes and heart disease. The VA provides these vets with compensation and health care benefits.

Burial Expenses The VA provides some help with burial expenses and a free headstone or marker and burial flag. To learn more about this benefit, please visit

Health Insurance for Dependents—CHAMPVA is the VA’s Civilian Health and Medical Program that provides health insurance to the spouses and dependents of permanently and totally disabled veterans. provides more detailed information.

VA Pension with Aid and Attendance—This benefit helps with long-term care costs for older veterans and their spouses. It can help with the cost of caregivers that come into the home, the cost of senior living communities, and the cost of nursing home care. As mentioned earlier, the benefit is a sizable amount, reaching up to $2,169/month for some.

Who is Eligible?
Career and non-career military veterans can qualify for benefits. In general, veterans must have served at least 90 days of active duty and have a discharge that is other than dishonorable to qualify for many benefits. (This requirement extends to 24 months of active duty for veterans who served after 1980.)

Also, non-disabled veterans may use the VA medical system. Non-disabled veterans may have to pay co-pays, and eligibility can be checked at

To qualify for the VA Pension with Aid and Attendance benefit, you must be paying for some kind of care, have $123,600 or less in assets (excluding one home and one vehicle), and have served at least one day during wartime while on active duty.  The VA has its own definition of income which they utilize in examining an application. Your income for “VA Purposes” is your gross income less your unreimbursed medical expenses (click here for a list of possible medical expenses). There is NO specified income limit for VA pension benefits. If the income for VA Purposes is less than the maximum benefit ($2,169/month for a married couple, $1,830/month for a single veteran, and $1,176 for a surviving spouse), the veteran or surviving spouse is eligible for VA Pension with Aid and Attendance from an income standpoint.

What about the recent changes?
The VA is implementing some new rules for the VA Pension with Aid and Attendance Benefit (or the Improved Pension) that will go into effect on October 18, 2018.

Asset Requirements: The VA has now set the asset limit at $123,600 for eligibility. This amount includes retirement assets, but excludes a home and a vehicle. If your assets exceed the current VA limits, there are asset planning options that can help you qualify. Consulting with a Certified Elder Law Attorney can help you determine the best way to qualify, given your circumstances. Be warned, though, the VA is implementing a 36-month look-back period that will go into effect on October 18th.

Look-Back Period: Prior to these changes, veterans could make last-minute changes, transferring their assets and then immediately apply for benefits.  With this new 36-month look-back period, pre-planning for VA benefits is a must.  Note, however, that you still have until October 18, 2018 to make changes as any transfers that happen prior to October 18th will not be subject to the look-back period. If you have been contemplating VA benefits, now is the time to act!

Where to Start?
If you or someone you know is a veteran and not currently receiving any benefits from the VA, please contact your local Department of Veterans Services. These offices are part of the state government and have been created to help Georgia’s veterans and their families access VA benefits. You can start your search at If you would like additional information about the VA’s Pension with Aid and Attendance Program and about the new changes, please contact Hurley Elder Care Law for a complimentary phone consultation at (404) 843-0121 or visit our website at  

The new changes will make accessing benefits more difficult. But you still have time! You can make changes to your assets before October the 18th, apply for VA benefits at a later date, and those transfers will not count against you. But all planning must be completed before October 18th.  Call us today at (404) 843-0121 for more information. 

Family Business
Nancy Malheiro, a long-time and very special HECL team member, recently moved to North Carolina to be closer to her family.  We are fortunate that Nancy has agreed to stay with us part-time working on administrative tasks and special projects from her new home. Although we will miss her greatly here in the office, we are very excited for her to start this new chapter!

Upcoming Speaking Events and CEs
Continuing Education (CE)
*All CE topics are certified for case managers, nurses and social workers.

Unique challenges exist at the intersection of ethical decision-making and geriatric care. Even though we have clear ethical principles, the messy realities of patients and families often leave professionals questioning the best course of action. Please join Danielle in a discussion of unique ethical dilemmas in geriatric care. With the use of case studies, we will explore issues related to client identification, capacity, confidentiality, undue influence, conflicts of interest, and informed consent. Each case is unique, and we look forward to your input.
5:30 PM- 7:00 PM, Morningside of Alpharetta, 253 N. Main Street, Alpharetta, GA 30020, RSVP: 

“Do you have your documents in place?”  Healthcare providers ask this question to patients and families daily and more often than we would like, the answer is “no.” What healthcare documents does everyone really need and how do they work? What are the repercussions of needing care and having no documents in place?  What options do healthcare providers have when families need to take action? We will review the essential documents every adult needs including the General Durable Power of Attorney, The Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare and various other documents that may be recommended.
4:00 PM- 5:00 PM- Keith Nabb, Affordable Medicare Solutions, presents on senior insurance options.  Please join for an informative discussion, 5:00 PM- 5:30 PM CE Registration, Heavy Snacks and Networking, 5:30 PM- 6:30 PM CE Education, Emory Johns Creek Hospital, Classrooms A and B, Main Conference Room, 6325 Hospital Parkway, Johns Creek, GA 30097, RSVP:

Every 67 seconds someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s, and one in three seniors will die with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.  The purpose of this activity is to review the basics of Alzheimer’s disease and then analyze the financial impact of the disease to families and employers as well as those affected by it.  Knowing the options available and planning for the unexpected loss in functional and cognitive capacity is the best way for healthcare professionals to advise their patients and families. 
11:30 AM- 1:00 PM, Sunrise of Huntcliff Summit 1, Essex Ballroom on the 6th floor, 8592 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs, GA 30350, RSVP:

Georgia’s aging population is facing a crisis in long-term care. Costs are skyrocketing and most families can’t afford to spend over $100,000 a year for care. Healthcare professionals are on the front lines providing information and tools to help navigate this difficult time. This seminar offers practical information to healthcare providers detailing Georgia’s long-term care options. This seminar will outline strategies for accessing public benefits to pay for care including Georgia Nursing Home Medicaid and VA Aid and Attendance. 
5:30 PM- 7:00 PM, Delmar Gardens of Smyrna, 404 King Springs Parkway, Smyrna, GA, 30082, RSVP:

Upcoming Community Presentations

Tuesday, October 16 - Join Miles Hurley, JD, CELA and Shelly Eisenstadt, Dir. of Social Services and Admissions of Jewish Home Life Communities as they discuss the options of paying for long-term care. Information about Medicare and Nursing Home Medicaid will be shared. This seminar will provide helpful advice to families prior to a crisis so they can find, get and pay for good long-term care. Light refreshments will be served. The presentation will take place at Berman Commons Assisted Living and Memory Care, 2026 Womack Rd, Dunwoody, GA 30338 at 5:30 PM-6:30 PM, RSVP to Lee Shaffer at 678-222-7502 or This event is free and open to the public.

Thursday, October 25 - “The Road Often Traveled: Essential Documents for Adults” at Emory Johns Creek Hospital (information above) is also available to the public. RSVP:

Wednesday, November 7 - "The Dementia Maze: Understanding the Options and Cost of Care” at Sunrise of Huntcliff Summit (information above) is also available to the public.  RSVP: or call Anne Marie at 678-461-1000

For more details and a complete list of upcoming events, please visit Hurley Elder Care Law Community Education.
Recent Blogs
Home to a Nursing Home- Explore these expert tips on nursing home placement without hospitalization.

Is This Legal- Read about the legal and ethical implications of Medicaid planning.
Qualified Income Trusts- What is this kind of trust and when do I need one?

Elder Care Resources
GA Nursing Home Medicaid Update- As of July 1, 2018, the personal needs allowance has increased to $65/month.

Will They Take My House?- Read about three ways to protect your house from Medicaid Estate Recovery.

The VAs Big Announcement- There are big changes to the Aid and Attendance benefit going into effect October 18th.

Miles P. Hurley, JD, CELA  Miles P. Hurley founded Hurley Elder Care Law in 2006 to provide legal assistance to the elderly population on issues relating to aging including retaining independence, quality of life and financial security. Mr. Hurley is one of eleven attorneys in the state of Georgia to receive the Elder Law Attorney Certification, and one of approximately 400 nationwide. 
Hurley Elder Care Law is dedicated to the process of long-term care and estate planning. 
Call us today for a free phone consultation with a client coordinator at (404) 843-0121.

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Hurley Elder Care Law
100 Galleria Pkwy, Suite 650
Atlanta, GA 30339

Satellite Offices
2011 Commerce Dr. Suite 100, Peachtree City, GA 30269   
225 Creekstone Ridge, Woodstock, GA 30188       
6340 Sugarloaf Pkwy. Suite 200, Duluth, GA 30097

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