Effective October 18, 2018, applicants for VA Improved Pension (“Aid & Attendance”) benefits will be subject to a three-year look-back period. Any pension claim filed on or after October 18, 2018 will be subject to a review of asset transfers made in the thirty-six (36) months before the month of application. Uncompensated asset transfers made during the look-back period, on or after October 18, 2018, may be subject to a penalty period before benefit ineligibility will begin. The duration of the penalty period (up to a maximum of five years) will be based on the total value of assets transferred. Any applicable penalty period will start in the month following the most recent asset transfer.
Individuals seeking VA Improved Pension (“Aid & Attendance”) benefits have a limited opportunity to engage in “penalty-free” asset transfers. It is best to consult with a qualified attorney or accredited representative before making transfers and before the effective date of the new regulations.
The new VA regulations have also changed the financial eligibility criteria from “sufficient means” assessment to a fixed “net worth” limit ($123,600 for 2018). “Net worth” is the sum of the Applicant’s assets and annual income, with certain exclusions. Notably: the value of Applicant’s primary residence is not included, and certain unreimbursed medical expenses will be deducted from the countable income of the applying veteran or veteran’s spouse.
Finally, the new VA regulations have expanded the list of deductible medical expenses to include unreimbursed payments for care in Independent Living Facilities as long as the Applicant received regular assistance with at least two (2) ADL’s or is certified by a health care professional as requiring a protected environment due to physical, mental, developmental or cognitive disorders.
Homecare, assisted living and nursing home care cost were already, and remain, permissible deductions.
Thus, if you are planning to apply for VA Improved Pension benefits, all asset transfers should be completed before October 18th in order not to face an imposed penalty. Thus rule applies even if you apply for benefits after October 18, 2018.
Please contact our firm at: (718) 238-6960 to assist you in evaluating your VA pension eligibility under these new regulations.