Changes in Veterans Benefits Effective October 18, 2018

The Department of Veteran Affairs (“VA”) issued new regulations on September 18, 2018 as noted in the Federal Register 47246 effecting eligibility requirements for non-service connected disability survivor’s and Aid & Attendance benefits, which are needs-based pensions.  Similar to chronic care Medicaid rules for those individuals living in a skilled nursing facility and applying for Medicaid benefits with a five year, look-back period (review) the VA has now implemented a three year, look-back period on transferred assets made without consideration.  The effective date of this new rule is October 18, 2018.  Therefore, assets transferred on or after October 18, 2018 may result in ineligibly of benefits for a three-year period.  Prior to October 18, 2018, no look-back period was required resulting in freely transferring assets to qualify for VA benefits.

The VA has also issued an asset threshold of $123,600, subject to annual costs of living adjustments from receiving Social Security benefits, for the veteran and his or her spouse. This is a substantial increase from the previously recommended asset limit of $80,000 for the veteran and his spouse.  However, income is now included in one’s assets for VA eligibility.  You can deduct unreimbursed medical expenses to lower your income and thus, lower your assets for VA eligibility purposes.

Contact your elder law, estate planning, or VA attorney to determine if you qualify for benefits and avoid the expense and effort of receiving a denial of benefits.  There are strategies available to qualify for VA benefits with proper planning, even with these new regulations.