On September 18, 2018, The Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) officially published the amendments to certain regulations in 38 CFR Part 3. The proposed changes, initially rolled out in January 2015, address perceived issues regarding the adjudication of VA Pension claims and the need to implement recent statutory changes. After receiving public comments, the VA finalized the regulations that released this week.
The regulation changes are effective October 18, 2018 and focus on eligibility determination for needs-based benefits, such as pension benefits. The VA pension program provides a monthly tax-free benefit for veterans or surviving spouses of veterans who meet the service, medical, and financial requirements. The 2018 amendments impact both the financial and medical aspects of eligibility determination.
An estate planning and elder law firm in Houston, Texas has analyzed the new rules and summarized some of the key changes to the financial and medical eligibility requirements below:
- Net Worth: Will be evaluated against a fixed limit of $123,600. The limit is based on the Medicaid maximum community spouse resource allowance and will rise slightly over time in accordance with Social Security cost of living adjustments.
- Look-back Period: A claimant who makes an uncompensated transfer after October 18, 2018 and within 36 months prior to their date of application may be subject to a penalty period not to exceed 5 years.
- Primary Residence: The claimant’s primary residence will remain an exempt asset regardless of value, however, the new regulation states that the residential lot area cannot exceed 2 acres.
- Medical Definitions: The amendments include clarification on certain medical definitions and allowable medical deductions. There are a number of other important changes that may drastically impact a claimant’s eligibility as well as their planning options. If you have questions about your current VA pension benefits or about obtaining VA pension benefits, please contact a VA accredited attorney today. Call the Houston Lawyer Referral Service at 713-237-9429 and request a referral.