Navigating Veteran Benefits

America’s military veterans always deserve our thanks and respect, but this year they earned even more attention than usual. On November 11, the world celebrated the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

In 1938, Congress passed a resolution to make November 11 a national legal holiday. Originally called Armistice Day, the name was officially changed to Veterans’ Day in 1954, and now after an entire century, a grateful nation still marks the annual occasion to honor our many brave veterans.

According to Pew Research Center, there are approximately 20.4 million living military veterans in the United States today, and more than 11 million of them are over the age of 60. As those older men and women approach their later years, they naturally have challenges to face about their retirement benefits, health care choices, housing, and many other related elder care issues.

Several different types of essential elder benefits are offered to veterans through the Department of Veteran Affairs and the national Veterans Administration (VA). For individuals who qualify, VA provides pension benefits, with programs that give veterans access to payments based on countable family income and the annual pension limit set by Congress. In addition, VA offers Survivors pension plans for unmarried, low-income surviving spouses and children of deceased veterans.

Veterans also are offered a variety of options for health care, medications, and housing as they age. Whether someone is looking for independent-living opportunities or a long-term living arrangement with around-the-clock health services, a number of government programs have been created to address their needs.

However, navigating and implementing VA benefits programs can be tricky, especially with new revised policies that define the value of your assets and adjust the limits on qualifying levels of net worth.

The requirements have changed

On October 18, VA finalized new rules that make it more difficult for some veterans to qualify for long-term care benefits. The changes establish an asset limit with new criteria, plus asset-transfer penalties for claimants applying for VA pension benefits which require a showing of financial need.

Because many benefits programs are based on the applicant’s current financial situation, it has been common practice for some applicants to divest portions of their assets before applying. Until the new rules were put into place, someone could transfer assets which were over VA’s limit prior to applying for benefits, and the transfers would not affect eligibility. However, that has changed.

The new regulations include a three-year “look-back” provision, which means applicants will have to disclose all financial transactions they were involved in for three years before the application. Applicants who transferred assets to put themselves below the net worth limit within three years of applying for benefits will be subject to a penalty period that can last as long as five years. This penalty is a period of time during which the person who transferred assets is not eligible for VA benefits.

Since the rules and VA application processes often are very confusing, the experienced elder law advisors at TuckerAllen have developed special programs to offer useful guidance and smart solutions for veterans.

A wide range of essential advice for veterans

If you feel that you could use some friendly support when dealing with VA issues, talk to TuckerAllen Our staff will help you navigate areas, such as the service requirements to qualify for Veterans or Survivors pensions, and how to calculate specific payment amounts. Our advisors will help you to understand the geriatric and long-term care options available through VA and which ones are covered as part of the VHA Standard Medical Benefits package. We also can answer your questions about many other veterans-related topics and opportunities.

For example, it is critical to have a comprehensive estate plan in place, regardless of your assets or long-term care situation. When you designate which family members will inherit your possessions, you spare them the pain and cost of a probate fight or family disagreements when the time comes.

The experienced elder law attorneys at TuckerAllen specialize in affordable smart solutions for wills, trusts, Power of Attorney documents, and other essential aspects of estate plans, including long-term provisions for special-needs adults.

TuckerAllen also offers complimentary educational webinars, where we explain a range of estate plan options and asset protection programs, all in terms that are easy to understand.

To learn more, contact us today. You also can arrange to have an initial consultation to discuss your individual priorities.

Navigating Veteran Benefits