Local attorney helps nursing home residents connect with their loved ones amid COVID-19 crisis.

Ocala Attorney Sarah K. Elyaman has seen firsthand the heartbreaking reality of families being separated from their loved ones during this time. 

As an Elder Law firm, Absolute Law Group has had many clients who feel helpless because they are not able to visit or communicate with their elder relatives in nursing homes due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Absolute Law Group wanted to find a way to help these residents share their wisdom and love with their family and friends.

They donated Amazon Fire tablets to all of Marion County’s nursing homes, so that the residents can video conference with their loved ones on the outside.

“It is heart-wrenching to witness the toll this is taking on families, so we knew we needed to do something about it. We are so thankful to our incredible partners for everything they do to take care of these amazing residents,” said Sarah.

The tablets will make it more accessible for residents and their families to have virtual visits during these uncertain times. Absolute Law Group hopes a virtual visit from a loved one will make them feel connected and boost their spirits.

Sarah K. Elyaman said the staff members at these facilities go above and beyond to help with communication, but more help is needed.

“Some family members come to the nursing homes to visit their loved ones through a window. That is difficult for a family member that can no longer drive due to health reasons or for the resident that has difficulty getting out of their bed,” said Sarah. “Besides, it’s very difficult for families to stand outside for a long time in the Florida heat to visit through a window.”

Absolute Law Group said they are glad to help during these tough times and are currently planning ways to help the community more in the near future.

  • Your military service discharge is deemed anything other than dishonorable conditions,
  • Your service was 90 or more active duty days with at minimum one day of service during a period of wartime.
  • You are age 65 years or older, 
  • Your countable family income is below a threshold set every year by law.

2020 Family Income Limits (Effective December 1, 2019)

If you are a…  Your yearly income must be less than…*
Veteran with no dependents $13,752*
Veteran with a spouse or a child $18,008**
Housebound veteran with no dependents $16,805
Housebound veteran with one dependent $21,063
Veteran who needs aid and attendance and has no dependents $22,939
Veteran who needs aid and attendance (A/A) and has one dependent $27,195
Two veterans married to each other $18,008
Add for each additional child to any category above $2,351

 

*Some income is not counted toward the yearly limit (for example, welfare benefits, some wages earned by dependent children, and Supplemental Security Income. It is also important to note that your medical-related expenses are considered when determining your yearly family income. *To be deducted, medical expenses must exceed $687 ** To be deducted, medical expenses must exceed $900

 

The financial information chart above, published by military.com, is commensurate with the numbers posted on the Veteran’s Administration website. Be aware; there is a look-back period that will determine if you have transferred assets in the three years previous to filing your claim. There would be a penalty period rate of $2,266 if you did move assets for less than fair market value during this period. 

The VA will pay a qualified veteran the difference between personal countable family income and the yearly income limit category into which they fall. Payments are made in 12 equal installments per month and rounded down to the nearest dollar. As an example, a single veteran with a $5,000 annual income qualifies for an annual limit of $13,752. Subtracting that veteran’s income from the income limit yields an annual pension rate of $8,752, which translates into a VA monthly pension check of $729.33 or $729.00 rounded down to the nearest dollar value. 

The VA website recognizes the following wartime periods that determine if your service was during an eligible wartime period:

  • World War II (December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946)
  • Korean conflict (June 27, 1950, to January 31, 1955)
  • Vietnam War era (February 28, 1961, to May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period. August 5, 1964, to May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served outside the Republic of Vietnam.)
  • Gulf War (August 2, 1990, through a future date to be set by law or presidential proclamation)

In addition to VA pension, wartime Veterans may also qualify for an additional allowance called Aid and Attendance. To qualify medically for VA Aid and Attendance, one of the following must be true:

  • Another person is required for you to perform daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and feeding, or
  • You spend a large portion, or all of your day in bed due to illness, or 
  • Due to a loss of mental or physical abilities related to a disability you are a patient in a nursing home, or
  • Your eyesight is severely limited (wearing glasses or contacts your eyesight is 5/200 or less in both eyes or your concentric contraction visual field is 5 degrees or less)

There are similar benefits available to surviving spouses of wartime Veterans. If you are a wartime veteran or the surviving spouse of a wartime Veteran, we can help you determine whether you could qualify for pension benefits.

While eligible veterans or surviving spouses can apply for benefits on their own through the www.va.gov  website, it is advisable to seek the advice of counsel before applying. There may be planning options available to avoid a penalty period and speed up the qualification process. If you would like to explore whether you might qualify for VA pension benefits, please give us a call at 352-205-4455.

Sumter County

8630 East County Road 466, Suite A
The Villages, FL 32162

Marion County

6035 SW 54th Street, Suite 200
Ocala, FL 34474

Citrus County

547 West Fort Island Trail, Suite H
Crystal River, FL 34429