New VA Regulation Changes and How They Affect Veterans and Spouses
New VA rules went into effect on October 18, 2018. The VA’s ruling is based on changes that were proposed in 2015. Here at VCC, we realized that some of the proposed changes could have a negative impact on Veterans’ ability to receive the quality home care they not only need, but deserve.
Because we believed the proposed changes would cause more harm than good, we took action, testifying in front of the House of Representatives, and stating our case with Governor Jay Nixon’s office, Senator Roy Blunt’s office and Senator Claire McCaskill’s office. We campaigned across the country, encouraging our industry peers and fellow Americans to reach out to their elected officials and comment against the VA’s proposed laws.
After a long fight followed by three years of waiting — we are pleased with the VA’s final ruling. Here’s a breakdown of the top 4 changes.
- Higher Assets Limit
The net worth limit to qualify for pension has increased from a variable and approximate $80,000 to a fixed $123,600. This means certain factors, including life expectancy and rate of depletion of assets, will no longer be used to determine whether you’re eligible for the VA Pension. This rule will limit the amount of inconsistent and unfair decisions, expedite the decision process and allow Veterans to retain a reasonable portion of their assets to respond to unforeseen events, including medical care. This new limit will increase by the same percentage as the Social Security increase whenever there is a cost-of-living increase. You can check the current limit on the VA’s website.
- The Addition of a 3-Year Look-back Period
The VA has implemented a 36-month look-back period on asset transfers. This rule helps to protect you and your spouse from ‘pension poachers’ who take advantage of Veterans. It also forces financial advisors and elder law attorneys to take you through a penalty period before they can assist with pensions, further protecting your valuable assets.
- A Revised Definition of ADLs and IADLs
The Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) list has been revised to include ‘‘ambulating within the home or living area.” The original 1963 ADL list included bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, continence and feeding. The addition broadens the scope of assistance Veterans are able to receive. The final definition of “custodial care” has been revised to include assistance with ADLs and IADLs for Veterans suffering from dementia and other non-physical disorders who otherwise might not qualify for care.
- A Shorter Penalty Period
The original 10-year penalty period assessed when a Veteran transfers a covered asset has been reduced to a 5-year maximum. This change protects the integrity of the pension program, while avoiding the ‘‘permanent’’ denials that might have resulted with a 10-year maximum penalty, due to age and life expectancy. Only that portion of assets that would have made net worth exceed the $123,600 limit (see #3) is subject to penalty.
We’re grateful for the changes and believe this new ruling not only safeguards the integrity of the pension program, but better protects elderly Veterans and their spouses from being the target of financial schemes. For those of us dedicated to providing quality care to Veterans in need, this is great news!
If you have questions or are in need of assistance with the VA Pension, please contact the knowledgeable and friendly staff at Veterans Care Coordination™. Call today: 1-855-380-4400