Financial advisors may be able to help veterans of WWII, Korea, Vietnam and other wars qualify for funds that most people don't know exist.

The extra funds could mean the difference between depleting a life savings to pay medical bills and being able to use that savings for retirement or to pass it on to the next generation.

The Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit can provide around $2,000 a month to pay for all types of medical care, including hospital and doctor care, and also home health assistance.

Mark Lloyd, founder of the Lloyd Group Inc., Suwanee, Ga., a retirement and estate planning firm, has made one of his firm's goals to spread the word about this assistance. According to the latest data available from 2007, $3 billion has been allocated by Congress since the law went into effect in 1951 and only 150,000 veterans or spouses of veterans are currently claiming the benefit.

That is only 1% of the 15 million veterans who might qualify, says Lloyd. Up to 85% of applicants get rejected on their first application because the process is complicated, but financial advisors should find out if their clients qualify and, if so, help them get the funds, he says.

Any veteran who served during the dates of a declared war--including WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan--is eligible if he or she is 65, received a discharge other than dishonorable, had 90 days of active duty with one day during wartime, and needs help with daily living activities because of health issues.

There are some other minor criteria due to the dates different wars were declared. If a veteran is disabled, the age limit can be lowered. There are income eligibility guidelines, too, but there are techniques, such as setting up an irrevocable trust, that can protect assets while still qualifying for the Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit, Lloyd said.

Monthly benefits range from $2,540 for two married veterans, $1,949 for a veteran with a dependent spouse, $1,644 for a single and $1,056 for a surviving spouse.

Because of Medicaid requirements and other government regulations, "So many families just want to get the assets out of Mom and Dad's name, so they sign over all assets and hope everything will be OK," Lloyd says.

Using the available veterans' benefits can pay for medical expenses or for an assisted living facility and protect the family's nest egg at the same time, he says.

"The Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit is completely separate from Medicaid," Lloyd stresses. "Applications are separate and can be made for either or both, but the two should not be confused.

"The Veterans Benefit is described in four pages of a 1,800-page law, so it is not surprising many advisors do not know about it," Lloyd says. "Advisors need to consult with an elder law attorney who specializes in this area. If a mistake is made in an application, it can cause major problems, but if a veteran obtains the benefit, it can be of great help to the family."

The Web sites, and and the Veterans' Assistance Association have additional information.