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What You Need to Know About the New VA Rules for Pension Planning

Are you or a family member planning to apply for a Veterans Administration (VA) pension in the future? If so, you should know that the rules just changed that may make it more difficult for some veterans and their spouses or dependents to qualify for VA pension benefits. These new rules, which went into effect October 18, 2018, are outlined in this brief article.

There are two major VA pension changes that are worth noting:

  • A clear-cut net worth asset limit of $123,600. This limit is the same for married and single applicants, and counts all property, income, and assets except the applicant’s primary home, vehicle, and personal effects (furniture, clothes, etc.). Before, there was no clear-cut asset limit; it was determined rather subjectively based on whether they thought your income and assets could support you reasonably well.
  • A 3-year “look back” period to check for any asset transfers. In other words, the Veterans Administration will look back into the applicant’s financial history, going back exactly 36 months from the date of application, to see if and how many assets were sold or given away during that time. The VA will count the value of any transfers/sales toward your net worth and if that exceeds the new limit, you will have to wait out a penalty period before you are eligible for benefits.

Of course, there are exceptions and intricacies to each of the new rules that will make things more complicated for some families than for others. It’s a good idea to schedule a meeting with your financial advisor or elder law estate planning attorney before moving forward with any new VA pension application to ensure you understand how the rule changes might affect your benefits.

If you have any questions and are in Western North Carolina, I invite you contact our experienced legal team at Craig Associates. We will be more than happy to help.

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