After several years of review, the Veterans Administration has finally introduced a look-back period for asset transfers, effective October 18, 2018. Any asset transfers made before October 18 are NOT included in the look-back period.
Aid & Attendance benefits, formally known as “Improved Pension with Aid & Attendance,” is a needs-based benefit available to elderly and disabled veterans who served during certain wartime periods. A veteran’s widow may also be eligible. These benefits can help qualified veterans and their widows pay for the cost of a nursing home, assisted living, or at-home care. This is not a service-connected benefit.
Effective October 18, 2018
- The applicant’s net worth may not exceed $127,061. This amount will increase annually and will be pegged to Social Security increases. Net worth is defined as the applicant’s assets, plus annual income. As before, unreimbursed medical expenses may be deducted when calculating annual income.
- There will be a look-back period of 36 months prior to the date of application. Any transfers for less than fair-market value made during the look-back period will be scrutinized. The total value of such transfers that made an otherwise ineligible applicant eligible for benefits will be used to determine a penalty period. During the penalty period, the applicant will not be eligible for benefits.
- Transfers made before October 18, 2018 will not be counted, even if they fall within the look-back period.
- The duration of the penalty period will be determined by dividing the value of transfers over the asset cap, by the maximum monthly Aid & Attendance benefit for which that veteran would qualify.
- The penalty period may not exceed five years.
- Annuities may no longer be used to protect assets. (Our attorneys did not recommend annuities because of their potential financial and legal complications).
Examples of how it works
Veteran A is disabled and has one dependent. He applies for Aid & Attendance benefits on November 1, 2018. On that date his net worth is $100,000, which is below the net worth cap of $127,061.
Veteran A gifted $80,000 to his children on October 5, 2018. No transfers were made after that date. Since all the transfers made during the three-year look-back period were made before October 18, 2018, he will not be penalized for the transfers.
Assuming Veteran A is qualified in all other respects, he will be eligible to receive Aid & Attendance benefits. He will not face a penalty period.
Veteran B is disabled and has one dependent. That means that if he were eligible for Aid & Attendance, he could receive up to $2,230 per month (effective Dec. 1, 2018). He applies for Aid & Attendance benefits on November 1, 2018. On that date his net worth is $100,000, which is below the net worth cap of $127,061.
Veteran B gifted $80,000 to his children on October 19, 2018. Since the gift was made after October 18, 2018, it will be used to calculate a penalty period. The penalty period is calculated as follows:
Had Veteran B not made the transfer, his net worth would be $180,000, putting him $52,399 over the asset limit ($180,000 – $127,601). The penalty period (the number of months during which the veteran will be denied benefits) is calulated by dividing the transfer amount that put his net worth over the cap, by the maximum monthly benefit to which he would be entitled. Assuming Veteran B is in all other respects qualified, he will not be eligible to receive benefits for 23 months ($52,339 divided by $2,230).
To learn more visit the V.A. Aid & Attendance section of our website.
To read the Federal Register with the final V.A. rule, click here.