Over the past few days, several attorneys that I collaborate with are scrambling to get the “word” out to our lawmakers about the VA’s proposed changes to regulations affecting eligibility for improved pension and aid and attendance benefits.
In the last entry we encouraged readers to contact their representatives in the United States Congress to make their opinions count and voice opposition. Following a conference with members of a national networking group, Arizona Attorney, Steven Dabbs proposed the following letter. Feel free to “cut and paste” if you would like your voice to be heard to help our seniors and veterans. Your local lawmakers can be found at: Find Your Lawmaker
RE: This is submitted in response to “RIN 2900-AO73, Net Worth, Asset Transfers, and Income Exclusions for Needs-Based Benefits.” Proposed Rules change.
The VA proposes to take benefits away from our wartime veterans. Throughout this proposed rule change, the VA sites that this is the intent of Congress. I oppose these rule changes and the attempt of the VA to circumvent Congress and betray the very group it is supposed to be serving: the veterans.
Is it the intent of Congress?
1. To cause a veteran or survivor not to seek the care he or she needs for fear of running out of money?
2. To have a bright line net-worth limit, which combines income and assets of both spouses tied to the CSRA, with a one- to two-year life expectancy as a basis for this limited amount? Further stating that this is what Congress wants because this is in line with the Medicaid asset limits. Not taking into account any of the other provisions that the Medicaid allows and pays for.
3. Is a 36 month look back what Congress wanted when it never made it out of committee to become important enough to be voted on by the entire body of Congress? This is wrong on so many levels, main result is it harms Veterans.
4. Is it the intent not to have a clear grandfathering of current claimants if these rules were adopted? Which will cause added and undue stress to current claimants and loved ones if these changes were to be implemented, and they potentially will have their claims benefits reduced or stopped all together. If this is exactly the impact of these changes will cause.
5. Is it the intent of Congress to increase the cost of care, depleting veterans’ assets further? Resulting in the veteran not to seek needed care by requiring caregivers to be licensed and denying care received in independent living communities as a medical expense. Reversing a 2013 VA decision.
6. Is it the intent of Congress to drive veterans to the taxpayer-funded Medicaid program, which would be an unnecessary traumatic experience for the veterans who paid such a dear price serving our country?
7. Is it the intent of Congress to make veteran pensions more restrictive than Medicaid by disallowing the use of trusts and annuities as legitimate long-term care needs planning tools? Is this not a contradiction where Congress allows this type of planning with one program but not another?
Do not allow the Veterans Administration, which is a government agency, to deliberately harm our veterans and to interpret the intent of Congress, at the same time circumvent Congress.
Any contact with lawmakers and the VA can only help get the message out that seniors and veterans rely on these benefits to avoid nursing home care and Medicaid qualification.