Understanding the 5 Most Significant VA Regulation Changes
New VA regulations go into effect on October 18 that will likely impact your homecare business and the veterans you serve. The VA’s final regulations are based on changes that were proposed in 2015. Here at VCC, we realized that some of the proposed changes, such as a $21/hr. cap on the cost of home care would have had a negative impact on veterans and disrupt business for those of us who work to connect them with the quality homecare they need.
Because we believed the proposed changes would cause more harm than good, we took action by testifying in front of the Missouri House of Representatives Veterans Committee, and by stating our case with Governor Jay Nixon’s office, Senator Roy Blunt’s office, and Senator Claire McCaskill’s office. We campaigned to homecare organizations and clients across the country encouraging them to reach out to their elected officials and comment against portions of the VA’s proposed regulations.
After three years of fighting to protect the integrity of the pension program and the veterans and homecare companies we serve, we are pleased with the VA’s final regulations. Here is a breakdown of the top five changes.
- No Homecare Cap
The proposed $21/hr. cap on homecare was dismissed in its entirety. The final regulations do not include a limit to the hourly rate of home care. This means that home care companies can continue to offer exceptional care to veterans at a fair market rate.
- 3-Year Look-back Period
The VA has implemented a 36-month look-back period on asset transfers. The period will immediately precede the date on which the VA receives a pension claim (but the VA will disregard asset transfers made before October 18, 2018). This regulation makes it more difficult for ‘pension poachers’ to take advantage of veterans. It also forces financial advisors and elder law attorneys to take veterans through a penalty period before they are able to assist with pensions.
- Threshold for Veterans Assets
The net worth limit to qualify for pension has increased from an approximate and variable $80,000 to a “bright-line net worth” of $123,600. This means determinations will no longer take into account life expectancy, rate of depletion of assets, and other factors. Not only will this limit the amount of inconsistent and unfair decisions, it will also expedite the decision process and allow veterans to retain a reasonable portion of their assets to respond to unforeseen events, including medical care. Additionally, the new limit will be increased by the same percentage as the Social Security increase whenever there is a cost-of-living increase. The most up to date limits will be published on the VA’s website.
- 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 homecare companies are able to provide. The final definition of “custodial care” has also been revised to include individuals with a physical, mental, developmental, or cognitive disorder who require care or assistance on a regular basis. This revised definition includes assistance with ADLs and IADLs for those veterans suffering from dementia and other non-physical disorders who otherwise might not qualify for care.
- Length of Penalty Period
The penalty period assessed when a claimant transfers a covered asset has been reduced from a 10-year to a 5-year maximum to provide the appropriate balance of protecting the integrity of the pension program, while avoiding the ‘‘permanent’’ denials that could have resulted with a 10-year maximum penalty (given the age of many pension claimants). Only that portion of assets that would have made net worth exceed the bright line limit is subject to penalty.
Overall, we’re grateful for the changes and believe the final regulations better protect the integrity of the pension program by counteracting organizations that target elderly veterans and spouses with financial schemes. This is good news for those whose goal it is to provide quality care to veterans in need.
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