While the catastrophes of the VA Healthcare system hit the news, with veterans waiting forever to get the care they need, and the VA Benefits Department hit the news with Service Connected Disability Claims taking forever to be processed, it is our “Greatest Generation” of veterans who are being left behind with the VA silently trying to change the one program that helps our WWII and Korean war veterans when they need expensive long term care—the Pension program.
The VA Pension program is limited only to “war period” veterans and their widows. It is also a program that for now is almost exclusively for those veterans who served during WWII and Korea. It is not really a “pension.” It is a benefit program to reimburse veterans for long term care expenses when they are paying out most or all of their household income for unreimbursed care. It is the one program that helps our veterans preserve their dignity at home rather than being placed in Nursing Homes.
The great majority of claims made by veterans for Pension are already denied by the VA after long administrative delays; normally it takes a veteran 8 months or more to get their denial letter. Numerous Pension claimants die prior to receiving an answer from the VA, and no pension is paid when the veteran dies. Part of the reason for so many denial letters is that the VA does not advertise this benefit and gives no guidance on their complex rules or how to fill out the application.
Now the VA has given Notice that it intends to reduce the number of Pension claims that it will approve; their Notice says that their new rules are to correct problems, but no one has documented that there are problems that need to be corrected—and their cure is worse than any disease. It is obvious to observers that this Notice is a bold attempt to reduce VA approvals of claims for a benefit that was promised to our veterans—and their target is our Greatest Generation of war heroes. Shame on the VA.
The ironic thing about these proposed rules from the VA, is that it assumes that every financial or planning action by a veteran is to become eligible for a program that they don’t know exists. Most veterans have no clue that the VA has any program to help them with long term care expenses.
The VA “cure” will deny any veteran who has used a revocable living trust to plan their estate.
The VA “cure” will deny any veteran who tithes to their church or makes gifts to their children.
The VA “cure” will double the penalties for widows, making the widow’s pension (which is about half of the veteran’s pension for similar medical issues) almost impossible to receive.
The VA “cure” does not allow for any “hardship” to be considered; veterans and their widows will simply be denied based upon “rules” that most people will unintentionally violate.
These wholesale denials will result in veterans who might be eligible only for a few dollars each month from Pension reimbursements, also being denied medical care from the VA and denied free medication from the VA. Right now, an important benefit for any veteran who receives Pension is the right to free medical care from the VA and free formulary drugs from the VA.
The VA “cure” will force veterans who would otherwise qualify for this benefit to seek admission to Nursing Homes in order to go on Medicaid to pay for their care, costing taxpayers far more money than keeping our veterans at home.
To make matters worse, this “cure” was thought up inside the VA without congressional oversight or approval. Similar rules being proposed by the VA were considered in Congress, but never had enough support to get out of committee—and the proposal considered by Congress was not nearly as harsh as what the VA hopes to implement. Nothing like this has ever been done before administratively (that is—without Congress enacting a law) and to do it to our Greatest Generation—that is to say—to deny these war period veterans the dignity they deserve—is downright SHAMEFUL.
Write the VA today, as well as your Congressman and Senators, to stop the VA from changing the rules that were mandated to protect our most vulnerable seniors who protected our way of life by putting their own life on the line for us.
Below is the correct address for you to comment on the VA proposal:
Director, Regulation Policy and Management
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Ave. NW., Room 1068
Washington, DC 20420
VIA FAX (202) 273-9026
Re: RIN 2900-AO73, Net Worth, Asset Transfers, and Income Exclusions for Needs-Based Benefits
Be sure to send your comments not only to the VA, but also to your two US Senators and your Congressman. Our representatives in Congress have the power to stop the VA from implementing these new rules.
US Senator Richard Burr – US Senate, Washington, DC
US Senator Thom Tillis – US Senate, Washington, DC
Congressman David Price – US House of Representatives, Washington, DC
Congresswoman Renee Ellmers – US House of Representatives, Washington, DC
Congressman George Butterfield, Jr. – US House of Representatives, Washington, DC