Are you a recipient of VA Aid & Attendance (VA Pension) or DIC benefits? Have you recently gotten a letter requesting more information about your claim? Or maybe you’ve received a letter regarding VA benefits reduction? This has been happening a lot lately, especially since the VA staff are back in their offices after the COVID break.
The VA is now going back and looking at financial records and tax returns from 2017 and 2018, then using that information to justify a VA benefits reduction. Many of these letters neglect to address the fact that the claim or application was filed prior to the records that they mention in these letters. But nevertheless, these letters are creating concern and extra work for our clients that are currently receiving VA benefits. Below we’ll discuss a few situations that we’ve been seeing recently.
VA 3 Year Look Back Period
The VA changed their rules in October 2018 and enacted a three year look back period for asset transfers. This means that you can’t transfer assets within 3 years of applying for VA benefits. If you do, you’ll be subject to a penalty period where you won’t be eligible until those three years have passed.
But the VA is trying to look back prior to October 2018 when their new law was enacted. We recently had a client who had given away assets in 2017 and filed their application in June 2018. So their asset transfer was done prior to the new rule and their application was filed before the new rule was established. But the VA is trying to reach here and pigeon hole benefit recipients. Don’t let this happen to you.
Cost of Living Increases & VA Benefits Reduction
The next frequent issue we’ve been seeing with these VA letters has to do with cost of living increases. This past year the Social Security administration granted a cost of living adjustment and subsequent benefits increase of 6.2%. And in 2023, they’re projected to have the largest increase in history. Projections show this increase to be around 8.5%.
As a result of these Social Security increases, our clients are receiving letters regarding VA benefits reduction. But the VA is not considering the 16% increase in Medicare premiums and undoubted increases in unreimbursed medical expenses. They just want to decrease your benefits without considering all the other expenses that have increased as a result of rampant inflation.
Here’s how this works. Let’s say that the maximum VA benefit amount per month is $2,500. If your monthly income is $500 per month, that will reduce your VA benefit amount to $2,000 per month. But if you have Medicare premiums and other unreimbursed medical expenses of $500, that would increase your benefit back to $2,500 per month.
This is why it is so important to report those unreimbursed medical expenses to the VA. They’re always going to try and reduce your benefits in any way they can. But if you can prove that you have plenty of other medical expenses to counteract the income increases from Social Security, your benefits can stay the same or maybe even increase.
So when you get one of these VA benefits reduction letters, make sure you respond appropriately. In the case of the cost of living increase, you would respond saying yes, I did receive a cost of living increase. But I also had an increase in Medicare premiums and other medical expenses. If you don’t file a comprehensive response and reporting, it’s very likely that your VA benefits will be reduced. We have to provide the VA with all the specific information so they can act accordingly.
Contact Us So We Can Help!
If you have any questions regarding VA benefits reduction or a letter you may have received lately, don’t hesitate to contact us. You can complete this form or give us a call at (229) 226-8183. You can also send us an email to [email protected].
We help Veterans and their spouses receive and keep the benefits they deserve. We work with the VA on a daily basis and fight for our Veterans and their rights to benefits. Please don’t hesitate to contact us so we can help you as well
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