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VetsFirst Q&A: Should my father move his assets around to qualify for VA benefits for nursing home care?

Question:

My father is a veteran of the Korean War and he is currently in receipt of a VA pension. He is getting on in years and he really should be in a nursing home. We know it and he knows it. He has been looking into VA benefits for his nursing home care. I think he has been talking to a financial planner who wants my Father to move his assets around. It all sounds fishy to me. Is this normal? Do other veterans do this?

Answer:

Excellent question. This has become a very hot topic lately. I have not spoken with your father and I have not reviewed his file so I can’t comment directly on his situation but I can provide you with some information that the VA recently published that directly deals with your question and issues.

The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging (Committee) found that some organizations are misrepresenting themselves while helping Veterans and survivors apply for VA pension. In a June 2012 hearing, the Committee addressed concerns that some organizations are marketing financial products and services to enable claimants whose assets exceed the VA pension program’s financial eligibility thresholds to qualify for VA pension benefits.

The Committee also learned these organizations may charge substantial fees for products and services that may not always be in claimants’ best long-term interests.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report, Veterans’ Pension Benefits: Improvements Needed to Ensure Only Qualified Veterans and Survivors Receive Benefits, GAO-12-540. GAO found that:

There are over 200 organizations that market financial and estate-planning services to help pension claimants with excess assets meet financial eligibility requirements for pension benefits.

These organizations consist primarily of financial planners and attorneys who offer products such as annuities and trusts.

Some products and services provided, such as annuities, may not be suitable for elderly Veterans because they may not have access to all their funds for their care within their expected lifetime without facing high withdrawal fees.

These products and services may result in ineligibility for Medicaid for a period of time.

Some organizations charged fees, ranging from a few hundred dollars for benefits counseling to $10,000 for establishment of a trust.

While many of these practices may not be illegal they may not be in the veterans best interest. Go slowly and verify everything.

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2017-01-30T17:54:51+00:00 July 9th, 2013|VetsFirst Q&A|