On September 18th, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) passed a ruling that creates a three year look-back period for asset transfers, prior to the date of application for benefits. This new policy goes into effect on October 18th.
According to the VA, veterans and their survivors, who are eligible for a VA pension and require the aid and attendance of another person, or are housebound, may be eligible for additional monetary benefits. These benefits are paid in addition to monthly pensions, but they are not paid without eligibility to a Pension. They can aid in covering the costs of assisted living, at-home care, or nursing home care.
Aid & Attendance benefits, previously known as Improved Pension with Aid and Attendance, are monetary benefits for elderly and disabled veterans, as well as their widows. The eligibility for these benefits is based upon the wartime service period of the veteran, their medical needs, and their “net worth”.
Due to the fact that Aid & Attendance and Housebound allowances increase the pension amount, people who are not eligible for a basic pension due to excessive income may be eligible for pension at these increased rates. A Veteran or surviving spouse may not receive Aid & Attendance benefits and Housebound benefits at the same time.
Aid & Attendance benefits may be added to a veteran’s monthly pension amount if they meet one of the following conditions:
> The veteran requires the aid of another person in order to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting themselves from the hazards of their daily environment.
> The veteran is bedridden, in that their disability or disabilities require that they remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment.
> Eyesight of the veteran is limited to a corrected 5/200 visual acuity or less in both eyes; or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.
> The veteran is a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity.
If you are a veteran or the widow of a veteran and are considering applying for these types of benefits, we strongly urge you to make any asset transfers prior to October 18th. There are two reasons we are suggesting this.
The first reason is the fact that the VA has established a new cap on net worth of $123,600 that becomes effective on 10/18. The previous cap on net worth was $80,000. Net worth is determined by annual income and assets of the veteran.
The second reason is that if asset transfers for less than fair market value were made during the aforementioned look-back period, the veteran could be subject to a penalty period of up to 5 years of ineligibility from the date of application. The good news is that if the transfers were made prior to the 10/18 deadline, they will not count, even if made within the look-back period.
Before making any asset transfers, please use the “Contact Us” page or call us at 888-231-9144.
The full transcript of the ruling can be found here: