VA Sets New Pension Regulations

Recently the VA announced changes to regulations governing Veteran’s pension and Parents’ Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, which are need-based programs.

The new regulations make these four major changes to the qualifications for these benefits: 

  1. Sets a clear net-worth limit for income and assets. The new regulations replace a complicated formula with a set net worth amount of $123,600 for 2019. The limit will be increased by the same percentage as the Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment when there is one.
  2. Permits the VA to look back 36 months at an applicant’s finances to review asset transfers at less than fair market value that may reduce net worth. The purpose of this rule is to prevent a veteran from giving away assets or selling them at less than market value to bring down their net worth to the qualifying limits. 
  3. Allows up to a five-year penalty period. If a VA pensioner violates rule number two, the VA can withhold pension payments for up to five years. The amount of the pension the VA will withhold will be based on the amount of money transferred.
  4. Updates medical expense definitions. Medical costs are a part of computing net worth. “Previously, the VA didn’t include some medical care such as custodial care, assistance with getting around in one’s home, and in-home supervision,” says Military.com. “While this type of care isn’t ‘medical’ by definition, it is related to an underlying medical condition; therefore the VA has added it as a cost.”

According to the VA, these changes will ensure that only those with a genuine need will receive pension benefits. 

Veteran’s pension is a monthly payment to certain veterans with income below specified levels. The veteran must have served at least one day during a wartime period and be 65 years or older, or permanently and totally disabled, or in a nursing home, or receiving Social Security Disability Insurance payments, or receiving Supplemental Security Income.

For more on the VA Pension program visit: https://www.benefits.va.gov/PENSION/

Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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