As many of you know, I’m a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). One of NAELA’s top public policy priorities is to oppose cutbacks of eligibility and restrictions of services for veterans. The last two years, Congress has proposed legislation (called the “Veterans Pension Protection Act” (S.748 and H.R. 2341)) that would, among other things, institute a three-year look-back for veterans Aid and Attendance benefits.
The current legislative proposal would:
1. Adopt a maximum divestment penalty of 36 months for transfers made prior to application;
2. Calculate a penalty based on the value of the transferred assets; and
3. Create a “carryover” penalty for a surviving spouse of an applicant.
NAELA has actively monitored this legislation and provided suggestions to the Congressional committees on how to better protect veterans. Language was added to correct some (but not all) of these problem areas and strengthen undue hardship protections.
Fortunately, the 113th Congress ended on January 3, 2014 and because the legislation was not successful before the end of the 113th Congress, the Veterans Pension Protection Act must now be reintroduced in the 114th Congress. While this is good news, NAELA will likely be working with the new Committee Chairman, so the education progress will go on.
Be that as it may, it seems clear to most of us in the elder law and veterans community that the VA and Congress will adopt this or similar legislation to make it more difficult for veterans to become eligible for benefits; and, indirectly, to make sure seniors who are otherwise eligible to receive benefits work with accredited attorneys and knowledgeable elder law attorneys to plan proactively for benefits.
If you are a veteran or the spouse or family member of one, I encourage you to schedule a complimentary consultation with us now, while you are still protected under the current law, to ensure you receive all the benefits to which you are entitled by your service.
Parman & Easterday