Turns out the information on the informational bulletin provided by the VA to inform the public on how the VA will be affected by the shutdown was a little misleading. I took it to say that pension and compensation claims processing would be fully funded through "late October." Today I was advised that if the shutdown continues past Monday October 7th, “non-essential” personnel will be furloughed (sent home), essential personnel will work without pay (for now). I did some research and it looks like the Veterans Benefit Administration as a whole will be down personnel by about 1/3.
This morning we all learned that our Federal Government has incurred a partial shutdown. While we are all concerned about this on many levels, this firm’s clients are all very concerned about what this means for VA disability benefits. The VA is now running on a contingency plan that is in effect until "late October." This contingency plan appears to continue to fully fund compensation and pension benefits and the offices that are processing these claims. I have confirmed that October 1st benefit payments were deposited today and paper checks should be honored.
In a news release from VA dated December 20, 2012, the Veterans Benefit Administration announced that Veterans and surviving spouses currently receiving Improved Pension benefits (“aid and attendance”) will no longer be required to complete the annual Eligibility Verification Report. VA, SSA and IRS are implementing a joint plan to share data regarding income and assets and so eliminate the need for paper reporting every January. EVRs have been a major source of confusion to thousands of Veterans.
Because of the wholesale abuse of pension eligibility standards perpetrated by elder law attorneys, financial planners and insurance agents “hiding” or sequestering assets for potential VA pension claimants, Congress is considering the implementation of a three-year look-back period on the transfer or gifting of assets. This recommendation was made by the GAO in its June 6, 2012 report on financial abuse and scams. Sen. Richard Barr (R-NC), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and Rep.
For the past two years, VA has had difficulty articulating under what conditions the cost of “room and board” as well as medical or nursing care incurred by claimants living in residential care facilities would be allowed as unreimbursed medical expenses or “UMEs.” This question is of vital importance as it affects the majority of claimants seeking Improved Pension benefits. Without this guidance, each of the VA Pension Management Centers developed their own semi-official policies which were in direct contradiction with each other. Upon bringing this matter to the attention of the VA and
VA disability benefits will once again be adjusted effective December 1, 2012 due to an increase in cost of living (COLA.) VA adjustments are generally identical to those for Social Security and other federal programs. Effective December 1, 2012 for payments made beginning January 1, 2013, rates will be adjusted upwards by 1.017%.