Today we have some extremely important information for you about what NOT to do when you’re trying to get your loved one to qualify for VA benefits.
There are strict rules that govern whether or not your loved one is eligible, and they’re put in place so that someone can’t just give away his or her money and automatically qualify. You’ve got to talk to someone who knows the rules, because they will know what sort of penalties you may incur if you take any such action. Make sure you understand what you’re doing before you make any changes to someone’s assets. Ordinarily, the VA takes a very dim view of individuals transferring their assets to qualify for this benefit.
Another thing you must know is that giving away cash or other things of value can create terrible problems for senior citizens if or when they later need to apply for Medicaid to assist them with skilled nursing home care. Simply giving away assets can create a long penalty period of ineligibility for Medicaid benefits, which we call the Medicaid Time Bomb.
Don’t forget, though – if you decide you need help, nobody can charge you a penny for helping you fill out the VA forms! And as we discussed in an earlier blog, many attorneys (even elder law attorneys!) do not know about the VA’s benefits or how to get them. In addition, many attorneys may label themselves as elder law attorneys because they can prepare simple things such as wills – but unless they are working with seniors on both Medicaid and VA benefits every day, they are most likely not versed in the complicated and ever-changing maze of laws that surround the benefits that you or your loved one may need – and often our clients need services much sooner than they think! This is dangerous territory. You need a trustworthy guide who has traveled this path before, and travels it on a regular basis!
Today I will also address a frequently asked question by a veteran’s family: “Is there anything we can do to qualify for the VA benefit if the veteran has too many assets?”
This truly is the “million dollar question,” and I have to tell you that with one wrong move, danger and disaster lurk close by. A veteran and spouse who might be eligible for $1,949 monthly in aid and attendance benefits or $1,510 in housebound benefits might be considering the idea of gifting excess assets to their children. But there are several questions that you must ask before doing that:
1. What is the tax impact of such gifting?
2. What is the net benefit or loss caused by gifting assets?
3. What is the impact to the one who receives the gift?
4. Does the VA impose a penalty against the veteran if they know that the vet has given away excess assets to qualify?
5. How long does it take to get the VA to approve a claim?
6. How likely is it that the VA will approve the claim?
7. What amount will the VA approve?
8. How soon can the veteran get a check?
A much less obvious but important issue is what I call the “Medicaid Time Bomb.” The VA does not have a penalty period of ineligibility for VA benefits, even if the veteran were to give away all of his/her excess assets immediately before filing a claim (not that we would recommend this drastic move).
For more information go to www.SullivanVeteransReport.com, which contains important information on the “Hidden Benefit” available to veterans and their spouses, and the steps you should be taking right now to find out if your loved one qualifies. For useful information on Alzheimer’s disease including care tips and resources please visit www.BostonMemoryLawyer.com. You will be given access to the Complete Alzheimer’s Resource Kit, sold nation wide for $197, absolutely free.
At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones. We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.
We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops. Call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.