The first article in a series reviewing the Impact of the NEW VA Regulations on Aid & Attendance
In January 2015, the Department of Veterans Affairs (the "VA") published proposed regulations amending eligibility requirements for its needs-based programs, including the veteran's aid and attendance pension benefit for veterans and their surviving spouses (referred to herein as the "Aid & Attendance pension benefit"). The VA reports that it received over 850 comments to the proposed regulations during the public comment period, which ended in late March 2015. Since then we have been waiting to learn to what extent the VA would make changes to those proposed regulations, unsure whether the final regulations would impact clients' applications that were in process when the final regulations were finally published. The final regulations were published on September 18, and are effective as of October 18, 2018. For professionals who work with veterans, their surviving spouses and families, the final regulations bring significant changes to the considerations that bear on their planning for such individuals.
The final regulations made major changes in three areas that will impact planning for the Aid & Attendance pension benefit: the calculation of net worth, an expansion of the types of expenses which can be taken as unreimbursed medical deductions from income, and the imposition of a three-year look back period for certain transfers, and penalties for such transfers. I will discuss each change in detail over the course of three installments. It should be noted that some changes to the proposed regulations may well be very favorable for claimants notwithstanding the new penalty for certain transfers. This post will concentrate on the new net worth regulations, because the transfer rules really cannot be understood without first comprehending the net worth rules. (Unless otherwise noted, all section references are to 38 C.F.R., Part 3.)