In April, a bipartisan bill was introduced in the United States Senate that, if passed, would implement stricter means-testing for people applying for low-income veterans’ pension benefits.
The proposed legislation, the “Veterans Pension Protection Act” (S. 748), which amends Title 38 of the United States Code, would establish a 36 month look-back at assets and a penalty period.
Currently, pension eligibility requirements assess an applicant’s net worth as of the date of application and do not take into account whether an applicant has recently transferred assets in order to qualify.
Last year, the Government Accounting Office reported abuses of the veterans’ pension program and made recommendations to ensure that only those with financial need receive the benefits.
The “Veterans Pension Protection Act” would disqualify applicants who reduce their estate by transferring assets to annuities, trusts or other financial instruments for less than fair market value prior to applying. The penalty period would be calculated by taking the total, cumulative uncompensated value and dividing it by the maximum monthly pension amount the applicant would have received, not to exceed 36 months.
However, according to the bill, pension benefits would not be denied or discontinued if the applicant reverses (“cures”) the uncompensated transfers or if the VA determines that denial or discontinuance of the pension would create an undue hardship for the veteran, surviving spouse and children.
If you or a loved one have questions about veteran benefit planning or have been a victim of financial exploitation, contact the lawyers at the Evans Law Firm at 1-415-441-8669 for a free and confidential consultation, or email firstname.lastname@example.org