veterans priority groups

VA Priority Groups – What They Mean

When a veteran signs up for healthcare through the Veterans Administration, they are assigned a priority group. Priority groups are used by the VA to determine the veteran’s level of need. In essence, the more care they need the more benefits the VA provides. In addition, changes in available resources that can reduce the priority groups the VA is able to enroll. Knowing in which priority group the veteran fits is very helpful.

The priority groups also determine whether a veteran will have a copay and if so, how much. VA copay information can be found at https://www.va.gov/health-care/copay-rates/. Below is a high-level description of each priority group. 

*This blog is for educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The use of the Paths Law Firm website does not constitute a client-lawyer relationship.

VA Priority Groups

Priority Group 1: Veterans that have a service-connected disability (SCD) disability rating of 50 percent or higher. If the VA determines the veteran is not able to work due to an SCD, the veteran will be placed in the first group.

Priority Group 2: Veterans that having an SCD between 30 to 40 percent.

Priority Group 3: The group consists of veterans who meet the following:

    • Veterans who were Prisoners of war (POWs).
    • Veterans awarded the Medal of Honor.
    • Veterans warded the Purple Heart.
    • Veterans discharged due to a disability caused or aggravated by their military service. 
    • Veterans having an SCD between 10 to 20 percent.
    • Veterans with a special eligibility classification.

Priority Group 4: Veterans with increased pension or compensation based on a need for regular aid and attendance. In addition, this group consists of veterans to be considered to be permanently housebound or with a classification of catastrophically disabled.

va priority groups

Priority Group 5: This group consists of veterans who meet the following:

    • Veterans currently receiving VA pension benefits or those who are eligible to receive Medicaid.
    • Veterans receiving an annual income below the Veterans Administration’s geographically adjusted income limit.
    • Veterans who have Nonservice-connected disability and veterans that are non-compensable service-connected with a VA rating of 0 percent.

Group 6: This group consists of veterans who meet the following:

    • Veterans with 0 percent compensable service-connected disability. 
    • Veterans exposed to ionizing radiation during Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
    • Veterans who served in the Vietnam war between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975.
    • Veterans who served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations between August 2, 1990, and November 11, 1998.
    • Veterans who served in a theater of combat operations after November 11, 1998, and was discharged from active duty service on or after January 28, 2003, for five years post-discharge.
    • Veterans who actively served at Camp Lejeune for a minimum of 3 days between August 1, 1953, and December 31, 1987.

Group 7: Veterans with a gross household income less than the VAs geographically adjusted income limit and who agree to be liable for copays. 

Group 8: Veterans having a gross household income that is above the VAs national income limits and agrees to be liable for copays.

Financial Verification

The Veterans administration will obtain income information from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) to help determine which priority group a veteran qualifies. This also aids the VA in determining the copay, if any. Once the Priority Group is determined, the VA will send a letter with their ruling. Applicants have 75 days to respond to the letter or appeal the ruling. After the 75 days, the VA will assume the veteran agrees with the copayment status. 

veterans priority groups

If at anytime a change in financial status occurs, programs exist that may help a veteran applying for VA Financial Hardship Assistance. Paths Law Firm has the knowledge and experience to determine Veterans Administration eligibility. We will work with you on your individual needs to help you get the most benefits available.

If you need help or know someone that needs help applying for VA Benefits, Contact Paths Law Firm to schedule a consultation.

Educational Seminar at Paths Law Firm

Paths Law Firm provides a Free Educational Elder Law Seminar every month to help you plan for your future.

Administrative Assistant

Ryan D. Foley

Ryan Foley at Paths Law

Administrative Assistant

Ryan D. Foley

Ryan graduated from the UMKC School of Law in 2018 and passed the Missouri Bar that year. Prior to law school, Ryan attended the University of Missouri – Columbia where he attained a degree in Business. He is a Kansas City native, growing up in the Northland where he achieved his Eagle Scout rank by doing a project for his high school. During his time in law school, Ryan was introduced to the practice area of Elder Law by one of his professors and has been

Ryan enjoys working with and educating clients to provide advocacy and support during the unfamiliar and often overwhelming probate process. Ryan understands the challenges faced by individuals when faced by the uncertainty and complexity of government systems or even handling a Trust during a time of grief, and he strives to make the process as easy as possible.

Administrative Assistant

Makaylee A. Morelli

administrative assistant at Paths Law

Administrative Assistant

Makaylee A. Morelli

Makaylee is currently working on her bachelor’s in political science and hopes to soon start law school as an aspiring attorney. In her free time, she loves to spend time with her friends and family but most importantly her dogs Taffyta, Tallulah Belle, and Harry. Their favorite thing to do is go on coffee dates and get pup cups.

Attorney

Kathleen E. Overton

Kathleen Overton, attorney at Paths Law

Attorney

Kathleen E. Overton

After starting her career as a disability attorney, Kathleen transitioned into estate planning at a mid-sized regional law firm. Kathleen joined Paths Law Firm in 2021 when she decided to return to a boutique law firm that provides excellent service and quality to clients. Because of her background as a disability attorney, she brings a thorough understanding of public benefits to each client meeting. At Paths Law FIrm, Kathleen focuses on traditional estate planning and business entity formation, providing tailored advice unique to each client’s situation.

Public Benefits Assistant

Tena K. Dooley

Public Benefits Assistant

Amanda D. Martin

I have my Associates in Applied Science and have over 20 years of office management experience. I have two daughters and one grandson.

During my time away from the office I enjoy spending time with my family.  I enjoy almost everything outdoors and my hobbies include fishing and gardening.

PARALEGAL

Sydney R. Morris

Paths Law elder law in Kansas City

PARALEGAL

Sydney

Sydney is currently enrolled at the University of Missouri-Kansas City pursuing an accounting degree and plans to later attend law school.

In her free time, Sydney enjoys spending time with her nephews and volunteering at her local church.

 

CLIENT SERVICES MANAGER

Christy L. Phillips

client service manager at Paths Law

CLIENT SERVICES MANAGER

Christy L. Phillips

Phone: 816-640-8635
Email: [email protected]

Christy has 3 years of experience in Elder Law working for seniors and their families as a Benefits Coordinator processing Medicaid and VA applications. Prior to joining Paths Law Firm Christy worked in the finance industry for over 10 years.

 

Christy’s experience in the finance industry has been extremely beneficial to her role as Benefits Coordinator. There have been many influences that went into her decision to select the field of Elder Law. Christy has a special place in her heart for the elderly and attributes this to her relationship with her grandparents.

When asked why she loves what she does, Christy said that at Paths Elder law, she gets the opportunity to help clients in more ways than one. Her favorite part of her job is getting clients approved for Medicaid or VA benefits as it is a huge relief for them and their loved ones.

Christy was raised in Ogden, Utah, and moved to Independence, MO, when she was ten years old. She has two children that keep her busy and fill her life with joy! Christy’s daughter cheers for Avila University, and her son plays competitive baseball for the Bucks and races BMX locally for the Motorcycle Closeout Team.

When Christy is not working, she enjoys crafting and making homemade gifts for her loved ones and raising her kids to be healthy, happy, and positive humans.

 

Practice Areas

  • Medicaid Benefits
  • VA Benefits

 

Professionalc Memberships and Affiliations

  • Missouri Notary

FINANCIAL MANAGER

René A. Fracassa

Rene A. Fracassa, Paths Law

FINANCIAL MANAGER

René

René has worked along side Rusty for 35 years. Not only is she part of the Paths team, she is also his wife. René spends her time working with the accountant to keep all of the finances in order, as well as general office management.

In addition to helping run the office, she helps manage the family and grandkids, tries to keep everyone fed, and has a passion to teach Bible Studies. Her former career in Event Planning trained her to juggle all the activity. She understands Rusty’s passion to serve people from the first mention of law school. It is a great pleasure for her to be an important part of every area of his life.

 

MARKETING MANAGER

Hilary R. Tichota

Hillary at Paths Law

MARKETING MANAGER

Hilary

Hilary plays a vital role in the daily operations of the office. In addition to her regular office duties, Hilary has a heart of gold.

For more than 5 years, Hilary has operated the front desk at Paths, running the office and catering to clients. Hilary recently moved into the role of Community Relations Coordinator. She has a passion for people and a focus to share our business practices with the community’s seniors, businesses, and clients. She especially has a heart for seniors, showing they are loved through her visits, treats, the “Pen to Pal” program, and volunteering services at various senior living communities. She is a wonderful wife and mother of two. Most activities with seniors involve her great talent for any type of craft.

 

SR. PARALEGAL & OPERATIONS MANAGER

Jennifer A. Bronson

Jennifer, senior paralegal

SR. PARALEGAL & OPERATIONS MANAGER

Jennifer

Jennifer has been in the legal field for over 25 years and considers Paths her second home.

When she’s not running the office or working for our clients, she’s spending time with her first passion – her children.

ATTORNEY

Russell A. Fracassa (Rusty)

attorney at Paths Law elder law

ATTORNEY

Russell A. Fracassa (Rusty)

Phone: 816-640-8635

When asked what he wants to do, his reply was “I just want to sit at the kitchen table and work directly with people.” Rusty enjoys working with clients providing experienced advocacy and supporting them through their unfamiliar and overwhelming situations. Due to all the challenges faced by seniors, it is essential to work with an experienced elder law attorney who has expertise in the law, issues, and concerns affecting seniors and their families.

Rusty brings nearly 30 years legal experience and expertise working for seniors and their families as an elder law attorney in Kansas City and surrounding. Prior to law school, Rusty was a practicing accountant. This provides invaluable experience in his current practice of law. Rusty decided to put his focus on helping the elderly, vulnerable adults, and their families navigate challenging life, end of life, and death events.

Rusty understands the challenges faced by individuals whose capacity is declining and how upsetting the loss of a loved one can be. He understands he may not be able to eliminate his client’s grief from loss, but he strives to provide clients with peace of mind. Rusty works directly with client’s long term care issues, including Medicaid, Veteran’s Benefits, Estate Planning, Asset Protection, and Special Needs Planning.

In 2010, Rusty’s faith and love led him and part of his family to China as Christian missionaries. He and his wife, went permanently, but ended up dedicating 3 years to that ministry. They returned to Missouri to help with grandchildren after a family tragedy and later began anew with Paths Elder Law. The goal is providing compassionate care through legal advocacy.

When Rusty is not practicing law, he enjoys spending time with his family, grandchildren, and excessive eating at local restaurants.

 

Practice Areas

 

  • Wills and Trusts
  • Estate Planning
  • Asset Protection
  • Medicaid Benefits
  • VA Benefits
  • Probate
  • Guardianship and Conservatorships
  • Education

 

BSBA and Master’s in Accounting, Master’s in Inter-Cultural Studies, and Doctorate in Juris Prudence

  • Rockhurst University
  • Liberty University
  • University of Missouri – Kansas City


Admissions to Practice

  • Missouri


Professional Memberships and Affiliations

  • State Bar of Missouri
  • National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (long-time Member)
  • Elder Counsel (Charter and Ongoing Member)
  • Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys (Past Member)
  • Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association
  • Missouri State Bar Committees – Elder Law, Estate Planning, Probate