The Veteran’s pension program provides financial assistance to wartime veterans or their spouses who need assistance with activities of daily living such as eating and bathing. This benefit is at risk due to a new rule proposed by the Veteran’s Administration. According to a Forbes article titled “VA Proposed Rule Is An Attack On Veterans And Their Families”, the new rule will impose a 36 month look back period for gifting with up to ten years in penalties. There is also a more strict definition of what actually qualifies as a medical expense.
The new gifting laws are quite strict. In addition to a penalty period of up to ten years, all gifts are assumed to have been made in order to qualify for benefits including gifts to a church or a grandchild.
There is also concern that the VA is not properly equipped to enforce the rules they are writing. The application process is already quite lengthy – it currently takes about 6 to 9 months. Imagine how much longer it will take if the VA will now be looking back 36 months. Veterans will likely spend even more time waiting for their benefits.
Only time will tell if these proposed changes will be implemented. However, now more than ever, it is important to meet with an elder law attorney to begin planning for benefits before mom or dad require long term care.