While American soldiers are fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria, it’s important to remember the heroes who made it home. Veterans on our own soil need just as much support as the ones fighting overseas, and the program in place for this—called the Aid and Attendance (A&A) Pension—is currently pending a new look-back policy that could deny these benefits to the veterans who need it most.
The program currently provides a pension of $1,758 per month to a single military veteran, $1,130 per month to a surviving spouse, and $2,085 per month to a couple. Should the proposed legislation become law, veterans could lose or be denied benefits for any asset transfers that were made for less than fair market value during the three years prior to applying for benefits.
While only a small percentage of veterans use the A&A Pension, it is extremely helpful for those needing assistance with their activities of daily living, such as eating, bathing, and dressing.
Why impose a look-back period?
According to a report by the Government Accounting Office (GAO), the proposed legislation would prohibit veterans from alleged abuse of the A&A Program. Yes, you read that correctly. The same government who declared it unconstitutional for public benefit recipients to take a drug test in Florida is now considering a legislation that could make it more difficult for veterans to receive this much-needed pension.
If approved, the new law is expected to affect a small percentage of veterans. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that, “less than 1 percent of all eligible veterans or survivors [spouses] would have disposed of assets that would disqualify them from eligibility within the three-year window.”
Despite this acknowledgment, the GAO continues to push a legislation that could deny our nation’s veterans a pension for their service. At the same time, the federal government errantly overpays fraudulent claims in other Federal programs at much higher rates, including 11.4% for Unemployment Insurance and 3.8% for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (i.e. “Food Stamps”).
Looking to apply for A&A benefits?
As Medicaid and VA applications become more complicated, it is more important than ever to speak with an elder law attorney prior to filing an application. If you or someone you love may be in need of the Aid & Attendance Pension, don’t delay! Time is of the essence because while there is no penalty right now, it appears there may be one in the near future.
Additional contributions made by Josh Sharp.