VA Benefits Attorney in Tampa FL: Proactive Planning
Let’s start with the obvious: It is always in everyone’s best interest to be proactive when it comes to planning for long-term care benefits. The sooner you learn the regulations and qualifying process for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Aid and Attendance benefit, the sooner you can position yourself financially in order to create a smooth path to approval.
The most important thing to understand is that the VA instituted rules changes in October 2018 that significantly altered the landscape for qualifying for this benefit.
On our A&A overview page, we discussed the VA’s income and asset tests used to determine eligibility for this tax-free benefit. Prior to Oct. 18, 2018, there was a lesser need for proactive planning. Attorneys could assist claimants who exceeded the asset limit by setting up irrevocable trusts, transferring assets into the trust and then immediately applying for the A&A benefit. Annuities were other tool commonly used to eliminate an asset from being counted under the regulations.
But in October 2018, the VA’s most significant rule change instituted a three-year “look-back” period at transfers involving trusts, annuities, gifts, and jointly owned financial accounts. This eliminated, or certainly made more difficult, some avenues for qualifying a claimant quickly. For example, if an asset was transferred after the Oct. 18, 2018 rules changes, the VA may count it as income or an asset. If that calculation results in an overage, the claimant receives a denial or a penalty. Depending on the circumstances, the penalty could create an ineligible period of up to five years.
That’s why it is worthwhile to consult a VA-accredited attorney for proactive planning before you need care. Dwelling on a day when you might need the assistance of another person to bath or use the toilet is not something people like to think about. But if you have substantial assets that you want to preserve or pass on, then it makes sense to talk with an attorney who can show you how to prepare for the look-back period.
That said, depending on your circumstances, if you need assistance with this benefit right now, there are At-Need Planning strategies that are available.
At Mortellaro Law, the initial consultation is always free. If you are a veteran of wartime service, or the surviving spouse of such a veteran, give us a call to begin Proactive Planning for the Aid and Attendance benefit today.