In this Elder Law Minute, Wes Coulson, Southern Illinois Elder Law attorney, continues with the four-part series, Changes to VA Eligibility Rules, and discusses the biggest change which is the imposition of transfer penalties with a look-back period.
Major Changes to VA Eligibility Rules: Look-Back and Penalties
Hi, I’m Wes Coulson from Coulson Elder Law with offices in O’Fallon, Illinois and St. Louis across from Westport Plaza and this is your Elder Law Minute. This is the second in our series of videos on the recent changes to the eligibility rules for VA pension benefits, particularly Aid and Attendance. Today, I want to talk about the biggest change which is the imposition of what are known as transfer penalties with a look-back period.
Before Oct. 18, 2018 the VA, unlike Medicaid, did not used to have one. Now they do. Interestingly enough, the way that it’s going to apply is going to be a lot scarier than in the case of Medicaid.
For Medicaid, the penalty divisor, the length of delay in eligibility for each of this amount that you have given away or otherwise transferred, is based on nursing home costs. In Missouri right now that’s $6,122. In Illinois, it’s the actual cost of the nursing home that you’re in when you apply, or if you’re in supportive living, $5,430.
But, for the VA it’s the maximum monthly benefit amount for a married applicant and right now that’s $2,169. So, literally the same amount of gifts or other transfers can cause a delay for VA benefits eligibility that could be as much as three times or more longer than in the case of Medicaid. So, a lesson there is that people are going to have to be really careful about doing that.
Now, there are other nuances to the VA rules. It doesn’t count as a transfer if you’re giving away something that you could have kept consistent with their eligibility rules. There are some special rules relating to annuities, the purchase of an immediate annuity within three years before applying is going to be treated as a transfer.
So, again, I’m going to sing the same song. These are really complicated rules and to avoid doing things that you had no idea were going to cause a problem but they wound up causing a terrible one. If you’re thinking about looking into these benefits, you really do need to consult first with an experienced elder law attorney like us at Coulson Elder Law. Thanks.
For more on Veteran’s Benefits, visit these articles:
- Major Changes to VA Eligibility Rules: Asset Allowance
- What Service Requirement Must Be Met For VA Pension Benefit Eligibility?
- Types of Care Covered by VA Benefits
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Coulson Elder Law is dedicated to providing families in the St. Louis area with their Elder Law needs. Our practice areas include Asset Preservation Planning, Veterans Benefits, Medicaid Eligibility, Alzheimer’s Planning, Special Needs Planning, Estate Planning and more. We understand the financial challenges you may face as you and your loved ones grow older. At Coulson Elder Law, our clients’ well-being is our number one priority. For immediate help, call (618)632-7000 or (314)567-9292 or Contact Us and we will get in touch as soon as possible.