THIS IS A CALL TO ACTION!

Behind Closed Doors, the VA is silently working without the approval, consent, or awareness of Congress to rewrite regulations that will have dire consequences for all veterans, but mostly impacting those who can no longer manage their day without the assistance of others.

After two bills failing in Congress to get approval, the VA has elected to act without authority to impose a 3- year look-back on a benefit that the VA has remained silent about for 64 years.

For those who have the least amount of time left on the clock, the VA plans to bury this benefit under the guise of “protecting” senior veterans from “Pension Poachers”.

Poachers who would have never had the opportunity to exploit and monetize senior veterans or their widows, had the VA been forthcoming in the past 64 years in their efforts to inform and educate veterans about the Aid and Attendance benefit and their eligibility.

The VA knows that they do not have the “authority” to independently impose this look-back, and that they have no plans to allow for a “grandfather” clause, but if Congress is unaware and they can keep them at bay, they will implement, and play the “We Didn’t Know” card.

Impacting all veterans is the VA’s plans to do away with the ability to file “informal claims”, and they plan to implement that change as of March 24th, 2015. This will do away with benefits accruing during the application process.

The VA relies on their covert actions that go unnoticed by the general public let alone the veterans who will be impacted by these types of changes until it is too late to do anything except feel even more betrayal by the agency who is failing our veterans daily with their delays and denials.

Congress needs to be made aware of what the VA is currently doing, and I am asking you to take 5 minutes out of your busy day to either call or email your State Senator and Congressperson to make them aware with the hope of holding the VA accountable for acting independently and without authority.

You can Google your state representatives and find their DC phone numbers, fax numbers and email addresses. Let them know you are desiring to make them aware of the VA’s “AO73” – Proposed Rule – Net Worth, Asset Transfers, and Income Exclusions for Needs-Based Benefits.

If you are interested in reading in VA convoluted language that is intended for no one to understand, see this link on the proposal. http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=VA-2015-VBA-0003-0001

Deadline for comments on this matter is March 24th, 2015, so time is of the essence.

I’m also asking that you share this information with all of your contacts, and ask them to do the same.

It is going to take a full blown effort to bring this matter to the attention of Congress, and to allow them to STOP the VA on this measure.

People often say, “I am just one person, what could I possibly do to make a difference?” Well here’s your opportunity to say that you did!

Thanks in advance for standing up, and speaking up for those who make the sacrifice.

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6 Comments

  • Posted March 8, 2015

    Donna W

    Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention. I have already contacted my Congressman and advised many others to do so. I get pretty hot under the collar reading how horrible this department is. I would much rather have my taxes go to help pay for care for our Veterans than pay for life long salaries to our “friends” in Congress or past Presidents. Thank you for all you are doing.

  • Posted March 8, 2015

    Debbie

    Donna,

    Thank you for taking the time to make the calls, and for your kind words regarding my efforts.

    I think everyone should be hot under the collar over the treatment of our veterans, but this action on this pension after sitting silent for 64 years, unacceptable!

  • Posted March 24, 2015

    Laurence

    These proposed rule changes will just penalize our vets and their spouses. For example did you see they want to limit the reimbursement for a home health aide to $21/HR yet good care in some part of the country costs significantly more.

  • Posted March 24, 2015

    Debbie

    I logged my comments to the VA today regarding the 3-year look back.

    I am not an Elder Law Attorney, nor am I a Financial Adviser, but I do come before you with a fair amount of credibility and a lot of insights on the topic of this pension and your failings.

    You can point to me as a direct resource as to why this pension has become so well-known and applied for in the past 10 years after sitting on your books for decades underutilized and unknown. I am the daughter of a WWII veteran, and the Founder of VeteranAid.org, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization.

    I more than most know the extent you have gone to in your efforts to keep this benefit out of the very hands it is intended for. My parents, their struggle, and your failures to honor the sacrifice of service resulted in me doing the job you would not do.

    So here you sit behind closed doors without the “authority” of Congress to essentially try and by pass the process, and impose more restrictions based on your “assumption” that the veteran or widow restructured assets to qualify financially for this pension rather than address the real issues that have led to this point.

    Your silence is what created this “issue”.

    If you had been forthcoming in educating veterans and their families about this financial resource, then they would have known about it prior to entering the front door of a facility for a tour when the need for care arises. A sales representative or financial person doing a seminar should not have been the first point of contact and information. That burden is upon you. Your responsibility is to our veterans, which seems to have gone by the wayside.

    Currently 82% of residents in facility care nationwide, are either a veteran or their widow. If you were looking for a “target market”, you just found it.

    County Service Officers should have been trained and instructed in out-reach services to contact and work with care facilities on a regular basis to ensure that residents not only were educated, but given competent assistance in making applications. By not doing so, you left the door open here for others to be that point of contact, and to leverage “gratitude” for being made aware of the pension.

    Noteworthy is the fact that most WWII and Korean veterans did not make 6-figures incomes, do not have 401 savings accounts, and on average, have $1100 – $1300 Social Security income to live on. That amount won’t even get one person into facility care.

    I worked very closely with the Special Senate Committee on Aging and their “Pension Poacher” investigation in 2012. I have a “Statement for the Record” attached to that hearing, and was present. You were there, and in 3-years’ time, with two failed bills, you have done nothing in the way of corrective actions to shed light on this benefit leaving it still in the hands of those who use this pension as a “calling card”.

    For the record, your proposal is not the answer. You will allow for those individuals to regroup and form a different marketing strategy, and the 3-year look-back will be how they close the sale. It will be used as leverage that in fear of not acting now, the applicant won’t be able to avoid the look-back period, and therefore not be eligible.

    So you will be beaten at your own game, but at the expense of 99% of those veterans and widows who do not have assets to move, and cannot afford proper care and services without this pension. You have elected to impose limitations and penalties on those who have the least amount of time on the clock for the sake of 1%.

    You have made no allowance for those who gifted or set up Special Needs Trust prior to a need for care. Your recommended penalties go across the board in one fell swoop on the assumption it was all done for the purpose of qualifying for this benefit. How self-righteous of you to ensure that these individuals will not live long enough to see the penalty removed.

    Here’s the take away from all this. You need to hold ALFA accountable for their unfettered access to their communities when presentations are not just for entertainment purposes. Many of these residents have impaired mental capacities, and are easily influenced, and often without the oversight of a concerned family member.

    You need to impose fines and penalties on individuals who are found to have deliberately mislead and misrepresented this pension, and who do not act in the best interest of the applicant. That’s how you shut this down, and leave this pension intact for those who truly are in need and in keeping with the spirit of the law. There needs to be a consequence for those who cross this line with the sole purpose of monetizing a senior veteran or their widow.

    Accountability is what is needed here, and you are doing everything possible to avoid that it is your failures and your silence that let the fox into the hen house. All you have done is to provide yourselves with additional excuses. This action on your part is an egregious act and a total defiance and failure of the charge you have been given.

  • Posted April 27, 2015

    Sally McLeish

    Has anything happened since your last post regarding the AO73 proposed rule? I am about to apply for benefits for my mother and can’t find any information elsewhere about the proposed look back

    • Posted April 27, 2015

      Debbie

      Sally,

      Not yet. The hope is that we were able to raise enough awareness that Congress will do their job and not let this go into affect.

      There certainly is the possibility that it will, but for now, it is not an issue. If your situation is one where you are considering moving assets to qualify, I cannot recommend doing so. If the look-back is put into place, the VA is not looking to implement a “Grandfather” clause that would give a pass to those who applied prior to the new ruling.

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