Elder Law of Louisville's Blog

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Response #4 to Proposed Changes to Aid & Attendance Benefit

A Government Accountability Office report dated December 21, 2012 found that VA claim processing times were too long.  Though the VA responded to the report with due concern and appropriate promises for change, the processing times have not improved.  CNN reported on this issue just last month and John Stewart has addressed the issue multiple times on "The Daily Show".  The VA's proposed rule changes to the Aid & Attendance benefit only add to the processing time due to a new 3 year look-back rule.  This new rule means a VA caseworker will be required to review 36 months of a veteran's financial records (including those of the spouse) to see if any gifts were made during the 3 years prior to the veteran filing the claim.  We are talking ANY gift, such as to a church or charity, or maybe helping a grandchild pay college tuition.

A delayed processing time is incredibly problematic because Aid & Attendance claimants are disabled senior veterans who are spending their money on out of pocket medical expenses.  If a veteran dies while the claim is pending the benefits are not paid except in a few very small exceptions.  Longer processing times mean a greater chance these disabled veterans of advanced age will pass away while the VA processes the claim, allowing the VA to avoid paying benefits.  Also, these veterans are spending money on medical expenses, but the VA benefit is capped.  Even when receiving the benefit the veteran continues to spend assets to pay for care.  But, the VA allows the veteran and spouse to keep a very limited amount of assets.  The longer the claim takes to process, the higher the risk of the veteran running out of money.  Many veterans do not bother getting the medical care they need because they can't afford it and don't believe they VA benefit will come in time to help them afford it.

It is one thing for the VA to continue to do nothing about solving existing problems to their programs, it is quite another for the VA to deliberately add new problems.

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The attorneys of Elder Law of Louisville (formerly Walsh & Wilson, PLLC) assist clients in Louisville, Kentucky and surrounding counties of Jefferson, Oldham, Shelby, Spencer, and Bullitt. Our Office also serves Southern Indiana and the towns of New Albany, Jeffersonville, and Clarksville.

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