October 3, 2018
A few years ago, the VA suggested changes to its requirements for qualification for the Aid & Attendance pension benefits.  As of September 18th, the new rules were decided on and will take effect on October 18th, 2018.  They are as follows:
  1. There will now be a Three-Year Look-Back For Asset Transfers for less than fair market value. Prior to these new rules, you could transfer assets in one month, and apply for benefits the next month with no look back at all. This new look-back period has now taken away the option of crisis planning and immediate benefits. However, transfers made prior to October 18, 2018 will be grandfathered in meaning they will be allowed to proceed and not subject to the new laws.  What should be kept in mind is that these transfers need to be made carefully.
  2. Transfers that were made during this new three year look-back period will now be subject to a penalty which is not a fine, but a period of time that you will be ineligible to receive any benefits. This period of ineligibility can continue for up to 5 years. The amount of time is calculated by using the monthly MAPR for a veteran with one dependent as a divisor, which is currently $2,169.00 per month for Improved Pension with Aid & Attendance.  This is used for both a surviving spouse or a qualifying veteran. Once calculated, the penalty period or period of ineligibility will begin on the first day of the month after the last asset was transferred.
  3. Previously, “sufficient means” usually a limit of about $80,000, was used as the tool/threshold to determine net worth. Now, with the new rules, the asset limit is at $123,600 for 2018 and will increase with inflation every year. The determination of net worth considers all assets with the exception of the primary residence and personal belongings plus annual gross income less allowable medical expenses.  In order to determine whether your assets are countable or exempt under the new laws, it is highly recommended to consult an experienced attorney or accredited VA professional.
  4. Under the old rules, home care, nursing home costs and assisted living expenses were approved medical expense deductions.  Now, qualified veterans and widows can deduct Independent Living Facility expenses as long as a physician, physician assistant, certified nurse practitioner, or clinical nurse specialist state that the person needs either assistance with 2 Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) or supervision because of physical and/or cognitive challenges.

If you are a Veteran or Widow(er) of a Veteran and need help paying for Long Term Care expenses, we strongly suggest you complete your planning before the October 18th Deadline. All transfers that are made prior to October 18th will not be penalized under the new rules, even if an application for benefits is filed after that date.

Call the Suffolk County Veterans Services Agency at 631-853-VETS (8387) for help with applying for Veterans Aid & Attendance benefits and for any other Elder Law or Estate Planning needs, call our office at 631-234-3030.