Although half the year is already gone, I thought now might be the perfect time to reflect on some of the important decisions from 2013.
This is the third of three blogs (Thursday, yesterday and today) on this important topic. I hope you find it helpful.
Proposed VA Pension Changes
There have been two bills introduced this past year that would make changes to Veterans pension benefits. The house introduced H.R. 2189 and the Senate introduced S. 944. Both bills propose essentially the same changes. The bills, if passed, will affect wartime Veterans and surviving spouses of wartime Veterans who apply for pension benefits in a number of ways.
First, the proposed law would impose a penalty against the claimant who disposes of property for less than fair market value if that transfer reduces the amount of the claimant’s estate. There is currently no penalty if a pension applicant gives away assets and then applies for benefits.
Second, the bill imposes a 36-month look-back period for transfers made prior to the submission of an application. Under this portion of the law, the VA will review the applicant’s gifts and other transactions over the past 36 months to ensure no penalties described in the prior paragraph should apply.
Finally, the bill describes transfers to a trust, annuity or other financial instrument or investment as a transfer of an asset. There are exceptions, but the goal appears to be to discourage some Veterans pension planning strategies that currently exist and, according to bill proponents, are being misused.
There are other aspects of the proposed law that would further affect Veterans, and their spouses, applying for these benefits. However, the bottom line for our senior clientele is that new planning strategies may be required to assist them in obtaining these benefits. We will keep you posted on the progress of these bills. For more information about Veterans pension benefits, please contact our office.
So, there they are, three changes that occurred in 2013 that will impact seniors in the coming months and for years to come. While some of the changes will have a positive impact on the senior and Veteran population, others will not. I’d like to help guide you to needed legal resources and information. If you or someone you know might benefit from our services, please contact us to see how we might be able to help.