Frequently Asked Questions

Medi-Cal Frequently Asked Questions
Veterans Pension Frequently Asked Questions
Fees and Cost for Assistance
Getting Started, Appointments and More information

Medi-Cal Frequently Asked Questions

It can be tricky to understand Medi-Cal requirements, qualifications and applications. Heritage Financial North can help. Learning all you can about the facts can help too. Read on to find out some of the most frequently asked questions we receive from the seniors we serve.

Does California law require seniors to use all of their finances before Medi-Cal helps pay for the costs of a nursing facility?
Fortunately no. Heritage Financial North's Advocates can help you understand Medi-Cal "spend down" and will recommend the best plan for you.

To qualify for Medi-Cal, what are my allowable asset-limits?
These amounts can change each year, but currently (2013) in order to receive benefits, allowable assets are limited to $2,000 for seniors who are single/widowed/divorced, and $115,920 for married couples. The state, when determining whether you meet Medi-Cal limits, considers certain assets "non countable" (e.g. IRAs) and some assets exempt (e.g. residence, vehicle, household goods). Please contact us for a more detailed discussion regarding your Medi-Cal eligibility.

In order to receive my full Medi-Cal benefits, can I just give my money away to family?
No. Doing so will cause ineligibility and impose penalties. Talk to one of our specialists to discover better solutions for you and your family.

What about our living trust? Does that exempt us from Medi-Cal requirements?
While it is a useful legal device in many instances, it does not protect your estate from Medi-Cal requirements and asset limits.

My spouse is in a nursing home already—is it too late for financial help, benefits, and solutions?
It's never too late for smart financial strategies. Although early planning is always better, steps can still be taken to assist you and ease your financial burden. Ask the financial care professionals at Heritage Financial North how to proceed.

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Veterans Pension Frequently Asked Questions

Should I try to file a VA claim by myself?
In our opinion which is strongly reinforced by the VA, the answer is "No." The VA recognizes three groups to assist veterans in the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of claims: VA accredited attorneys, claims agents and the accredited Veterans Service Officers (VSO). The claims process can be very frustrating if you have not been trained and do not understand the law. You may be denied outright or your claim may take many more months or even years to complete because of information requests and exchanges between yourself and the VA. We very strongly recommend that you use the services of a VA accredited individual or organization, which includes state and county veterans service agencies. There is no fee for using an accredited resource.

Can you present and prosecute my claim before the VA?
Heritage Financial North does not get involved in the claim process; our Senior Veteran Advocates understand the "winding road" of the process and help with all the pre-planning to ensure that we have assisted you in satisfying all of the VA’s qualifying criteria. Once the criteria has been met, a Veteran Service Officer will process your claim and act as your advocate at the VA to ensure it gets through all of the red tape in a timely and expeditious manner.

What if the veteran is already receiving a VA disability pension?
There are two types of disability programs: Compensation and Pension. These two rules apply: (1) For Aid and Attendance purposes, the maximum amount of total VA payments cannot exceed the maximum Aid and Attendance benefit. If a claimant is currently receiving a disability payment, it will be deducted from the maximum amount available under Aid & Attendance and the remainder awarded. (2) If the Aid and Attendance claimant is already receiving a service connected compensation amount that exceeds the maximum Aid and Attendance benefit, the claimant can keep one or the other but not both. This usually means the greater amount of the two is retained. In either case, the disability payment counts as income for the purposes of determining total monthly income.

I divorced the veteran but receive his social security. Do I qualify?
No, Social Security rules are different from VA rules. Normally a divorce ends your eligibility. However, if a widowed spouse remarried on or after 1/1/1971 and the marriage was terminated prior to 11/1/1990, then the person is eligible as a surviving spouse.

What about previous marriages of either the veteran or a surviving spouse?
The VA will require documentation of all previous marriages (a marriage certificate or license) and evidence of how the marriage ended (a death certificate or a divorce decree.) This is documented to prevent cases of possible fraud or duplicate claims.

One of my parents is a qualified veteran; however, it is the non-veteran spouse that requires assistance. They are both moving into assisted living to stay together. Do they qualify for Aid and Attendance?
It is always the qualified veteran that is due the benefit. The spouse only has individually vested rights when he or she becomes a survivor. In cases such as this, if the spouse is requiring to live assisted due to poor physical or mental condition, they could qualify for what is called a “Basic Pension.” Please contact us for a more detailed discussion.

How long does it take the VA to adjudicate my claim?
If the claim is fully documented and submitted to the Fully Developed Claim (FDC) program, they must adjudicate and make a decision within 90 days. If the claim is not well documented it will be bounced from the FDC program to regular processing and that could take many more months depending on how many claims are in the system and how quickly the family can submit the documentation needed for the VA to make a decision. 

Can I receive military retirement pay and VA disability?
Yes, this is called Concurrent Receipt. Simply put, Concurrent Receipt means that qualified military retirees will be paid both their full military retirement pay and VA disability compensation. This recently passed law phases out the VA disability offset, which means that military retirees with 20 or more years of service and a 50% (or higher) VA rated disability will no longer have their military retirement reduced by the amount of their VA disability compensation.

Are pension and special benefits retroactive?
VA benefits are ordinarily retroactive to the first of the month after the VA receives the application. Ex: If the VA receives your application on August 15th and approves it in November, the first check will include benefit amounts for the months of September and October. The November reimbursement will be made on December 1st and on the first of every month thereafter as long as eligibility is maintained. Recent changes in federal regulations also allow us to request retroactive effective dates for veterans (not surviving spouses) up to one year in arrears if you can show proof that care expenses were being paid..

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Fees and Cost for Assistance

Do I pay any fees to Heritage Financial North?
Our Services are always completely free of charge to those we assist.

Our insurance and financial services are compensated directly by various financial institutions who offer prudent solutions that are specifically tailored to fit our client’s needs. If any planning requires legal counsel, tax advice or other professional services, compensation would be directly between you and those providing the service.

The services we offer to veterans and surviving spouses are always free of charge. By offering this invaluable service to our veterans, surviving spouses and their families; our hopes are that you will find our assistance to be helpful and our team to be professional, knowledgeable and courteous. We appreciate the opportunity to earn your future business and hope you think of us if you or any member of your family or a friend needs any of the financial services we offer.

Getting Started, Appointments and More information

How do I get started, schedule an appointment, or get more information?
Consultations with a licensed Heritage Financial North representative are offered by appointment only. For initial questions regarding your personal situation, for more information or to schedule an appointment for a free consultation, please contact us or call us Toll Free at (888) 579-0429.

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