Ask Terry Questions Refinancing a VA loan for older veteran, needs nursing care

Refinancing a VA loan for older veteran, needs nursing care

By Terry Savage on June 01, 2015 | Housing / Real Estate

My husband is a Korean Vet Originally bought house on VA loan in 1968. Retired firefighter Free and clear now. He is 82 I am 80. He has alzheimers progressing rapidly. House in excellent condition, good neighborhood. He will have go go into a facility and therein lies the problem. Is there anything out there for me? What can I do?

Terry Says:  VA loans can be refinanced for cash out, but you’d have to have an income to do that.  So that won’t help in your situation.  But I can see your problem clearly.   My first thought was that you should apply for Medicaid.  But each state has its own restrictions on the amount of assets and income the “well-spouse” can keep when the ill spouse needs nursing home or assisted living care.  I also know the VA has some special programs that could help.

So, I turned to my friend Phyllis Shelton, the Long Term Care Insurance expert at for some advice about where you could seek help.  Here’s what she suggests:

“Before they apply for Medicaid, there is another program through the VA that could help them. It is called Aid and Attendance benefit and finances do enter into eligibility.  They should contact the VA to see if there is any help available through that avenue.  Here’s the link and it will also get them to their regional VA office: “.

If Medicaid is necessary, Phyllis reminds me of a great resource:

“They do not have to sell their house, even if he winds up applying for Medicaid. It depends on what state they are in, but he can transfer income to his spouse up to a minimum of $1,967 up to a maximum of $2,981. For assets (not counting the house), the healthy spouse can keep up to a maximum of $119,220 this year. “.
So now you need to do some clear thinking.  First, you have to see what benefits the VA will provide, and that might include home health care — although likely not on a full-time basis.

Second, you have to figure out where it is best for you to live if he needs to move into full time care.  You can stay in your home, and as long as you can afford to live there — paying real estate taxes, insurance, utilities, etc — the state cannot come after it.   But if you think this is the time also for you to move, perhaps into assisted living or a senior community, then you need to figure out exactly what the assets are (assuming the sale of the house) tht you can keep in your state of residence.

To make the right decision, you might need some advice from an Elder Law attorney in your state.  To find one, go to, and search — That’s the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys.

The time to get started on this project is now — before things get to an extreme health situation for your husband, and give you less room to maneuver.





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