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Aid and Attendance Legal Update -The Veterans Administration Moves The Ball

 

This Aid & Attendance legal update written by attorney Nicole Wipp at the Family & Aging Law Center is not, and should not be construed as, legal advice.  For advice specific to your situation, consult a qualified and accredited Veterans Administration attorney.

One of the most important benefits for long term care is something known as "aid and attendance" or "Veterans Improved Pension."

For several years now, we have been hearing rumblings that the Veterans Administration was going to have a massive change to the rules surrounding this benefit.  

And finally, yes - the Veterans Administration moved the ball.  The old rules are out, and the new rules are in...as of October 18, 2018.  So if you're looking to get this benefit under the "old" rules, all transfers must be completed before that date.

How Does This Affect People Seeking Aid & Attendance Benefits?

Here is a rundown of the most important changes that will affect Veterans and their dependents when it comes to Aid & Attendance:

  • There Is A New Lookback Rule, Similar to Medicaid

There will now be a 36 month (3 year) lookback period to determine if any assets have  been transferred or given away. This is a similar provision to the 60 month (5 year) lookback that is in place for Medicaid. However, all transfers prior to October 18, 2018 will be grandfathered under the current law...without a penalty period for eligible transfers.

  • Unlike Medicaid, The Penalty Is Limited

Under the Medicaid rules, the penalty for non-exempt transfers of assets can be unlimited.  Under the new VA rules, however, the penalty cannot exceed five years. 

As a practical matter, however, unless you are being very proactive in pre-planning (which we recommend) a five year penalty can make this an inaccessible benefit.

  • The Asset Levels Are Clear

We now know the EXACT amount each Veteran/spouse can keep - and it is the same for everyone.

This is very different than it was previously.  Although many attorneys and others would make claims such as "you can only have 30k" to each client, the reality was that the allowed asset levels were dependent mostly on the age of the Veteran and/or spouse.

The number is based on what the Medicaid rules call the "community spouse resource allowance" - or CSRA, as we attorneys call it.

Unlike Medicaid, however, the CSRA includes annual gross income...and also unlike Medicaid, this number remains the same whether or not the individual applying is married or single.

  • Anything Over Two Acres Is Countable

This is one of the most non-sensical rules and one that will particularly affect our clients, as many of our clients have homes that are on more than two acres.  The value of the home is otherwise completely exempt.

Why non-sensical?  Under this rule, a person with a family farm would have to have a significant portion of their home counted against them, whereas a person in New York City with a home valued exactly the same would be able to retain the entire value with nothing counted against them.

This also makes pre-planning essential.

 Important Takeaway:  You Cannot Plan for VA Benefits Without Also Planning for Medicaid

One of the biggest problems I see with other planners is that, due to their lack of knowledge related to the Medicaid rules, even when they are successful in getting VA benefits they are causing massive problems for future Medicaid.

THE REALITY IS, most people that seek out benefits will ultimately need Medicaid.  VA benefits are rarely going to be enough.  

Don't let this happen to you - you could lose literally hundreds of thousands of dollars of benefits to pay for care.

The good news?

I am not only an experienced Medicaid attorney with a 100% success rate in protecting assets while also getting clients qualified, I am an accredited VA attorney with the same track record for that benefit!

Wondering what you should do next???

Call Us Today!  (248)278-1511

 

 

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