VA pension is a tax free monthly cash benefit paid to veterans and their surviving spouses that can be used to cover the cost of long term care. The benefit can be used to cover costs of assisted living, independent living, nursing home, or at home care. The benefit pays a monthly amount of between $1,159 to $2,120, depending on the family situation of the applicant and the care that is needed. Along with showing the need for care, the applicant must meet requirements related to military service and meet financial requirements.
Under current rules, there is little concrete guidance on the amount of assets an applicant for VA pension can have and still be approved for VA pension. Experienced elder law attorneys have found the typical amount of assets the VA will allow an applicant to retain. The VA proposed regulations in early 2015 that would provide more concrete guidance on asset rules. The proposed rules would increase the amount of money that the applicant for VA benefits could keep in their name, would limit the size and value of a home that the VA applicant could keep in their name, and would impose strict rules on the transfers. Currently, there is no penalty for transferring assets out of the applicant’s name for the purposes of qualifying for VA pension. The proposed regulations, if enacted, would change this.
The regulations are currently, as of December 8, 2015, only in proposed form. They have no effect at the moment. The VA could decide to make them law, make some of the changes law, or not makes any changes to the VA pension. Currently, there is increased speculation on the effective date of the proposed changes. Some people have heard rumors of an effective date in March 2016, others the summer of 2016.
Until a final rule is enacted, it is business as usual for VA pension benefits. With all the proposed changes and the interplay between VA pension and Medicaid, it is wise to seek the opinion of an experienced elder law attorney when determining which long term care benefits are right for you and your family.