We would recommend that if you are going to comment on this proposed law as he suggests, that you use your own words and experiences to form your argument. This is more effective than copying and pasting.
The following is Dabbs letter:
Please forward to everyone you can...
The Veterans Administration's Aid and Attendance Pension is a critical source of financial assistance for Veterans and their widowed spouses in need of expensive long-term care. Sadly, the Department of Veterans Affairs is proposing changes to regulations governing Aid and Attendance benefits. The proposed changes would make it more difficult to qualify for benefits and severely penalize those who make asset transfers incorrectly.
These changes include new evaluations of net worth, a three-year look back period for asset transfers and a penalty of up to 10 years for improper transfers. That is, if an eligible Veteran or widowed spouse improperly transfers assets within the three-year look back period, Aid and Attendance benefits could be denied for up to 10 years.
The VA would like to implement these changes as early as March 20.
You can tell the VA what you think about the changes by clicking on this link and submitting your concerns. Comments must be submitted by March 19th.
Or, you can simply cut and paste the sample comment below to the link.
The VA's stated policy is to "ensure that wartime veterans and their families receive the highest level of care possible while simultaneously being mindful of the interests of taxpayers. In fact, the proposed regulations are contrary to that policy because:
* Only Congress has authority to impose look-backs and penalties for transfers per statutory requirements.
* An administrative agency, when making permissible changes to regulations, must still follow the expressed intent of Congress and must not make changes that are arbitrary and capricious.
*Not allowing the Veteran or survivor the ability to pay for care by spreading their assets out over their life expectancy using an income annuity is both arbitrary and capricious. Under Medicaid, this is allowed and it is unfair not to allow the same ability under the VA Pension, known as the Aid and Attendance program. This favors someone with a Government Pension or Defined Benefit Pension Plan over an IRA/401K plan, because the Pension plan is a stream of income and the IRA/401K is considered to be a lump sum. Therefore, the person with an IRA/401K is being treated unfairly over someone with a pension, because the person with an IRA/401K pension cannot convert it to a flow of income or private pension.
* The proposed changes, specifically in how the penalty divisor for transfers is calculated, would penalize widows almost twice as harshly as Veterans. This is unfair to widows and will result in forcing more widows directly onto Medicaid - costing taxpayers more.
* The proposed changes will eliminate the Veteran from choosing the least restrictive environment to receive care because independent living facilities will not be an option.
* The new regulations limit the amount a veteran or surviving spouse can pay for home care to a national "average." How can a veteran receive the "highest level of care" if VA will only count "average expenses" in order to attain eligibility? A veteran who pays for above average home care will not be eligible!
* The proposed changes would force a Veteran to sell his property if it exceeds 2 acres, seriously affecting our rural Veterans.
* If a surviving spouse has a disabled child, that surviving spouse cannot leave money for the child's care in a trust. A veteran can, a surviving spouse cannot, meaning the surviving spouse will forego VA benefits and instead go on Medicaid. Again, this results in higher costs for taxpayers.
* The proposed changes would penalize any Veteran who has engaged in solid estate and elder care planning because they used trusts and/or annuities that would assist in paying for their care.
* By denying benefits for those at the earliest stage of medical need (Independent Living Facilities), wartime veterans will either forego care in order to save their money, or deplete their money and be forced directly onto the Medicaid rolls, costing taxpayers more. Medicaid costs taxpayers more because Medicaid pays for the entire cost of care, whereas VA benefits just pay a partial amount for care, which stretches out the veteran's available dollars for care and puts off the need for Medicaid.
Feel free to call me if you have questions.