Law Office of Amy B. Van Fossen, P.A. - Elder Law

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Recent changes to VA pension benefits

Pension benefits from the Veterans Administration provide necessary funds for the heroes of our country. Unfortunately, there are often changes to the requirements that make it difficult for veterans to obtain the benefits they need. In fact, there are new rules as of 2018 that impact Aid and Attendance benefits. 

You or your loved one may be afraid of not being eligible for supplemental income from the VA. Here are some facts you should know about the new eligibility requirements in place. 

Asset limit

There is now a specific cap on assets that you must fall under to qualify for benefits. This is also known as a “net worth limitation.” The limit was $123,600 in 2018. The annual income of the applicant, as well as the income and assets of the spouse, are all considered when calculating these assets. If you do not fall under this limit, you may need to strategize a lawful “spend down” of your assets. But be careful – the rules for transferring assets are different.

The lookback period for transferring assets

Previous VA regulations allowed for applicants to transfer assets to family members, annuities or trusts without any penalty. That is no longer the case. The VA now looks back three years, beginning with the date the new rules went into effect, which is October 18, 2018. If the VA finds an inappropriate transfer of assets, it may apply a penalty period of up to five years. 

Medical expenses and caregiver agreements

Thankfully, some changes help veterans. For example, the VA now considers costs for living in an independent facility as unreimbursed medical expenses, or UME. New items are also deductible, such as vitamins, supplements, prescriptions and dietary items. Expenses related to having a service animal or transporting for health care also count. 

Family members can also be paid caregivers, not just health care personnel. Payments to caregivers are also considered UME.