An interesting and potentially disturbing movement is afoot in the legislative world. The VA is an agency, and is chartered by Congress to act under mandates given by Congress. To that end, agencies must come up with rules that affect how their mission is carried out. For the VA and the new proposals about net worth and transfers, this involves benefits.
Currently, a proposed rule change could, or would, dramatically decrease access to benefits for veterans who have current high net worth. Here is the link to the Federal Register information… Federal Register . The summary of the rule change says “The proposed regulations would establish new requirements pertaining to the evaluation of net worth and asset transfers for pension purposes and would identify those medical expenses that may be deducted from countable income for VA’s needs-based benefit programs.”
The intent is to “preserve the integrity” of the system and funding. You can read this many ways, but some rule-makers think that veterans should not be able to transfer assets out of their names to meet current eligibility requirements. They also would impose a look back similar to that in place for Medicaid. A sanction periods would commence with the transfer, and as proposed it is somewhat more drastic than the similar period for Medicaid.
We are considering the rights and needs of our clients as we review these proposals. To the extent necessary, we will offer our thoughts to our various representatives as to the viability and necessity of the proposals. I’m not convinced that the rules changes are as bad as some make them out to be, but I’m reading the rules changes and letters. Final feedback must be provided by March 24, 2015.
We will update our clients with our opinions and recommendations. For now, it is certainly clear that planning ahead, like we do for Medicaid, is a good idea. Although, to be clear, the VA is already becoming more stringent about the movement of assets in order to qualify for the benefit.
We advise that you come to our office for a brief review and possible quick action to secure your benefits.