Why A few bad apples could spoil the VA Aid and Attendance Program

What is the saying – it’s the few bad apples that spoil it for the rest of us?

Last month, the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging held hearings to expose what they call “pension poachers” which are financial advisors and attorneys who sell annuity products to help protect a veteran’s assets so that they can qualify for the VA’s Aid and Attendance program (see http://www.alfa.org/News/2526/Senate-Committee-Hearing-on-VA-Aid-and-Attendance for the hearings and the GAO report).

Aid and Attendance is a program which is intended for Veterans who have limited means (i.e., less than $80,000 in assets and limited income), however, there are companies selling financial products that offer services to veterans to help them qualify for the Aid and Attendance program.  Personally, I think the bigger problem is that seniors are being taken advantage of by financial planners who sell them annuities they do not need (and I also think it is an ethical issue for attorneys who sell those kinds of products – but that’s a blog post for another time).

In most cases, it is the people who need the help who are receiving the benefit of the program.  I have yet to see someone who would rather trade their $1 million in cash assets (and give up control of that money) just so they can qualify for $1,000 to $2,000 per month to help pay for their assisted living care or expenses in the home.  For those that have that kind of money, they have sufficient amounts to pay for help in their home or assisted living care.

Aid and Attendance is helpful to pay the cost for care in the home or in assisted living, but if you need skilled nursing, $1,000 to $2,000 a month is not going to cut it.  Unfortunately, there are a few bad eggs out there spoiling it for the rest.  In my opinion, the government should be going after those bad eggs rather than restricting the rest of us who are trying to help those who are of limited means and need access to these programs.

The proposed legislation, introduced by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) would require a “look-back” period for applicants applying for the Aid and Attendance program, just like with the Medicaid program.  It is expected that the look-back period will be a three year look back (whereas the Medicaid look-back has been extended to five years).  This will make it more difficult for those who have transferred assets within the three years prior to applying for benefits to qualify for those benefits.

If you would like to learn more about VA Aid and Attendance benefits, contact the Brandon FL Law Office of Laurie Ohall today.