The V.A. has tightened restrictions on the room and board a veteran may deduct from income when applying for Pension, and Pension with Aid & Attendance benefits. These are benefits available to disabled veterans 65 and older who have served during certain wartime periods, and who fall below certain income and asset levels.
For applications pending or submitted on or after Oct. 26, 2012, room and board at a residential facility may be deducted as an unreimbursed medical expense (UME) only if the facility provides the applicant with custodial care (defined as assistance with two or more activities of daily living). The presence of pull cords and 24-hour staffing is insufficient to qualify a facility as providing custodial care. The new rule will propel many veterans over the income cap, disqualifying them from receiving benefits.
On our website you may read about the current eligibility requirements for V.A. Pension, and Pension with Aid and Attendance. That page also has a link that allows you to download a color booklet about these benefits.
In the future the V.A. is likely to take additional steps to further restrict veterans' access to these benefits. The V.A. and Congress are considering adopting a lookback rule, similar to what Medicaid has, that will examine and penalize applicants for uncompensated transfers that have occurred within a certain time period prior to the application date.
Note that the V.A. pension rates change every Dec. 1. The V.A. has not released the numbers yet. When it does, we will post them to this blog and to our Elder Law and Estate Planning website.
If you need these benefits now or are likely to in the future, I encourage you to apply without delay. Continued federal belt-tightening will make these benefits more difficult to access as time goes on.