Will the new Veterans Affairs eligibility rules affect my chances for receiving benefits?

A piles of patches from various branches of US Military.

If you served in the active military, naval or air service and are separated under any condition other than dishonorable, you may qualify for VA health care benefits. Current and former members of the Reserves or National Guard who were called to active duty (other than for training only) by a federal order and completed the full period for which they were called or ordered to active duty also may be eligible for VA health care.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced new rules on
October 18, 2018 for VA needs-based benefits.  The rules establish net worth limits, a look-back period, and the penalty for the transfer of assets. 

The VA has adopted the maximum community spouse resource allowance (CSRA) for Medicaid as the net worth limit.

2018 the CSRA is $123,600.

  • This includes both resources and income.  For example, if the applicant has $110,000 in resources and $20,000 in annual income, the applicant’s net worth would be $130,000. 
  • The veteran’s primary residence and household goods are excluded, even if the veteran is living in a nursing home. 
  • There is a 2 acre limit to the size of the lot the home sits on unless the additional acreage is unmarketable.

The VA established a 36 month look back period for transfers of assets for less than fair market value for the purpose of qualifying for a VA pension.  This 36 month period is from the date of an original claim or new claim after a period of non-entitlement. 

If the VA determines an asset transfer has occurred a penalty period will be calculated based on the value of the assets transferred that would have put the applicant above the resource limit (CSRA) divided by the maximum annual pension rate for a veteran in need of aid and attendance with one dependent in effect on the date of the pension claim. The penalty period begins the first day of the month that follows the last asset transfer.  There is a maximum five year penalty period.

Transfers to a trust for the benefit of a child disabled prior to age 18 are not treated as disqualifying transfers. 

The VA allows the veteran to cure or partially cure an asset transfer:

  • 60 days following a penalty period decision notice to cure or partially cure
  • 90 days following a penalty period decision notice to notify VA of the cure

An experienced attorney can help you understand these new rules, your options, and develop a plan the best meets your specific situation and goals.