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 VA benefits vs. Medicaid relative to the new rule changes.
Major Changes to VA Eligibility Rules: VA Benefits vs. Medicaid
Hi, I’m Wes Coulson from Coulson Elder Law, serving clients throughout the St. Louis region in both Missouri and Illinois, and this is your Elder Law Minute. This is the fourth and last in the series of videos on recent changes to the eligibility rules for VA pension benefits particularly Aid and Attendance. As an introductory comment, the changes to the rules actually run 138 pages in the federal register. With a lot of detail then, there’s no way in four videos that we can cover everything, so I’m sort of hitting the highlights here.
What I want to talk about today is one of the big changes is going to be strategically for someone who might be eligible for these benefits and deciding whether they’re better served to pursue them or wait to pursue Medicaid or how they might go about planning for both. That used to not be an issue on the old rules because given that the VA didn’t have a look-back period or penalties, the strategy was always just to move assets out of harms way as soon as possible relative to the five-year look-back for Medicaid. But, now that’s changed and it’s going to involve a individual nuanced decision looking at each client.
Let’s say we have a couple in their early 80s, one spouse is a veteran and both in reasonably good health. Should they go ahead and move assets out of harms way relative to Medicaid? Or should they not do that because they might be giving up three years of VA benefits?
Let’s say that we have the widowed spouse of a veteran and she’s ready to go into assisted living right now. Should she opt to get the VA benefits, which for her for now are only a maximum of $1169 a month? Or should she not do that because that might interfere with her later ability to qualify for Medicaid that might pay three or four times as much as the VA benefits would have paid?
So, these aren’t easy questions and I don’t have, and nor do we expect to have, one size fits all answers. One of the things that happens whenever rules change is that the lawyers who work in this field work hard to develop strategies for dealing with them so that we can get our clients the best results for each individual client. That’s what we’re doing now, so give us a call we can help. Thanks.
For more on Veteran’s Benefits, visit these articles:
- Major Changes to VA Eligibility Rules: Pitfalls to Avoid
- Major Changes to VA Eligibility Rules: Look-Back and Penalties
- Major Changes to VA Eligibility Rules: Asset Allowance
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