Essential Arrangeentsfinal

Date: February 5, 2015

From: Debi Lawson, VA Accredited Claims Agent

Contact Information: 316-393-6222 or debi@essentialarrangements.com

VA TARGETS WAR TIME VETERANS IN REWRITING

AID & ATTENDANCE PENSION

Late Friday, January 23, 2015, the Department of Veteran Affairs announced that it was proposing significant rule changes regarding eligibility for the Aid and Attendance, non-service connected pension, which directly impacts the nation’s war time veterans.  This rulemaking effort is an attempt to side-step the law making process that is reserved for Congress.  

The proposed changes will significantly and negatively affect senior veterans access to affordable long-term care. Most wartime veterans who pursue the benefit primarily have a home and a modest savings.  The VA’s proposed changes will prevent the typical wartime veteran from affording the care they need in an assisted-living facility. Many will be forced to stay at home without access to the care they need or will be forced to go to a nursing facility and seek Medicaid benefits to pay for their care. Not only do these changes deprive the senior veteran of care, it will also end up costing state governments more in Medicaid benefits to take care of war-time veterans forced to seek care in a nursing home.  

The proposed changes include imposing a 3-year look back on transfers of assets without taking into consideration the intent of the transfer or whether the transfer was made to take care of other family members, including disabled children or grandchildren. The proposed changes allow for up to a ten (10) year penalty for a war-time veteran or widow from access to the Aid & Attendance benefit. The VA also wants to impose licensing requirements on assisted-living facilities and home care providers that are not even required by the State. The proposed licensing requirements will mean that family members that care for their elderly loved ones are no longer able to be compensated, which would cause great hardship to those who have left jobs or reduced hours to care for ailing veterans in their family. The proposed rule tries to mirror Medicaid rules, but does not allow for appropriate spend-downs, such as funeral expenses or treatment of IRA funds.

There is no indication of when these rules will be instituted or how pending claims will be reviewed. Some practitioners believe it’s possible for the VA to go back to claims that have already been approved and rescind benefits already awarded and perhaps seek repayment. The public has a 60-day widow to respond to these changes. We would encourage you to talk with some of the veterans that have benefited from this program to learn how they would feel about these changes. We have and will be contacting our legislators to weigh in on this matter. We hope you will bring this issue to public attention.

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