Veterans Affairs Proposed Rule Change to Affect Senior Living
The Department of Veterans Affairs is proposing to amend regulations governing who is eligible to receive a VA pension in response to recent recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office. The updated regulations would affect senior living communities in multiple ways. ALFA is in the process of analyzing the suggested changes and plans to submit comments to the VA regarding its proposal.
Among many suggested modifications, the proposed regulations would establish new requirements regarding the evaluation of net worth asset and asset transfers for pension purposes. The GAO found that the VA’s current pension program design and management do not adequately ensure that only veterans with financial need receive pension benefits. For example, GAO identified a case where a claimant transferred over a million dollars less than three months prior to applying and was granted benefits. Additionally, the GAO said the application form is lacking by not asking for some sources of income such as private retirement income, annuities and trusts as well as asset transfers. That GAO report also identified more than 200 organizations that market services, primarily financial planning services, to assist veterans and survivors with transferring assets in order to reduce net worth to qualify for a VA pension.
This proposal would define and clarify what VA considers to be a deductible medical expense for all of its needs-based benefits, including changing the definition of activities of daily living. It would provide that generally, payments to independent living communities are not medical expenses nor are payments for assistance with IADLs such as assistance with medications or ambulation. The rule also would place a limit on the hourly payment rate that the VA may deduct for in-home attendants.
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