ASK THE PROS

What Went Wrong?

Justin, My father filed for VA Aid and Attendance benefits six months ago.  After waiting all that time, all he got was a confusing denial.  The letter he received referenced old accounts he no longer has and interest income that was generated by those accounts.  What could have gone wrong?  – Sandra

Sandra, I hate to say it, but your father’s experience has grown common these days.  As I’ve mentioned in this space before, there is no look back provision in the VA rules.  That means the VA is supposed to base its decisions only on a claimant’s income and assets as of the date of application and not on what the claimant might have had prior to the date of application.  This differs from Medicaid, where qualification can be based on things that happened as far back as five years prior to application.

The VA has proposed rule changes that would impose a three-year look back, but those changes have not been approved much less taken effect.  The VA, however, seems to be imposing an unofficial look back anyway.  When a claimant submits an application and discloses all of his or her current income and assets, the VA has been running an audit of sorts by comparing the current information submitted on the application against prior years’ tax returns.  When the numbers don’t match up—and often they don’t for a variety of reasons—applications are either delayed or denied.

I would encourage your father to keep fighting.  He should do everything he can to prove the information the VA used in denying his claim was based on outdated information.  For those with time, though, your father’s story provides strong incentive to plan ahead!  To find out how, order a copy of my book, You Need A Plan, at YourPlanMatters.com When you do, you’ll also have an opportunity to request a strategy session with me or one of my colleagues at no charge.  Waiting is no longer an option.

 

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