How the VA Defines “Net Worth” For Pension Benefits
Paying for Long Term Care can be a burdensome thought as many of us, and our loved ones, will simply not have enough money to pay for the costs of care as we age. Fortunately the Veteran’s Administration has a great Improved Pension program, called Aid & Attendance, to help wartime veterans, and their spouses. Under this program they may receive up to $2169 a month tax free in order to pay for unreimbursed medical costs. This has been a great relief for many that have served our country and now need some extra care. Aid & Attendance when combined with a moderate Social Security retirement benefit can often fully cover the cost of extra caregivers in the home or for care at an assisted living community if the veteran, or their spouse, needs more care than can be reasonably provided at home.
On September 18, 2018, in what they are denying as a cost cutting effort the VA has released aggressive rule changes to the Aid & Attendance program that will make qualifying for the benefit far more difficult.
Under the VA’s new rules, a Veteran, their spouse, or both, are limited to a “net worth” of $123,600. This includes all assets, even retirement accounts, land over 2 acres, even including the equity value in their home if they intend on selling it to pay for care.
After October 18, 2018, Under the VA’s new pension rules there is a “3-year look back” that penalizes a veteran for almost any “gifts” or transfers for less than value received to the veteran, even if they were done before the veteran even conceived needing the extra care. This look back could result in a penalty of up to 5 years, where the VA will not provide benefits that the veteran, or their spouse, otherwise would be eligible.
Under the new rules, if a veteran has “gifted” amounts such as the IRS allowed gift exclusions of $15,000 a year, charitable gifts and even tithe to their church they could be penalized from receiving the pension for up to 5 years. As an example, if a veteran transferred a total of $50,000 over the last three years to family, charity or even certain investments like annuities, they could be ineligible for the benefit for over 2 years.
If you, or a loved one, are a wartime veteran that may need some extra help within the next 5 years you need to contact us at (678-250-9355) to complete asset protection within the next 30 days, before October 18, 2018 in order to be able to qualify for this benefit under the current rules, before the requirements change to exclude more wartime veterans and their surviving spouses.
Contact us for a free consultation today!
Joshua Nelson is an Elder Care Law Attorney with Nelson Elder Care Law, LLC
2230 Towne Lake Parkway, Suite 900-200, Woodstock, GA 30189