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June 13, 2013   Veterans Benefits

Recent Happenings in the VA Pension Area

Senate Hearing

Yesterday the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing on S. 748, the pending bill before the Senate that would impose, among other things, a penalty period for transfers made by veterans or surviving spouses prior to filing an application for VA pension.

Curtis L. Coy, Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Opportunity, Veterans Benefits, testified on behalf of the VA. (NAELA also submitted written testimony prepared by the VA Task Force of which I am a member, and that is Chaired by EC member Dawn Weekly.)

The entire testimony of Curtis Coy can be found in the link below (you will have to scroll down to S. 748 as there was testimony on several bills today). However, there are two paragraphs of that testimony below that were very interesting, as the VA recognizes that the current bill is overly punitive when it comes to how the penalty period is calculated:

“VA supports in principle the look-back and penalty-period provisions of subsection (a), but cannot support the bill as written because of the manner in which the length of the penalty period would be calculated. Our reading of the bill indicates that the method used to calculate the penalty period in proposed section 1522(a)(2)(E)(i), “the total, cumulative uncompensated value of all covered resources,” could be unnecessarily punitive because VA might have determined that only a small portion of the covered resources should have been used for the Veteran’s maintenance. VA has similar concerns with language in proposed section 1522(b)(2)(E)(i).

VA proposes, as an alternative, that the dividend under proposed section 1522(a)(2)(E)(i) be, “the total, cumulative uncompensated value of the portion of the covered resources so disposed of by the veteran (or the spouse of the veteran) on or after the look-back date described in subparagraph (C)(i), that the Secretary determines would reasonably have been consumed for the Veteran’s maintenance;”. We propose that similar language be used in section 1522(b)(2)(E)(i).”

Link to testimony: http://www.veterans.senate.gov/hearings.cfm?action=release.display&release_id=04a17e8c-da3d-4584-8e39-7f8d6e1d3728

Link to text of the bill and current status: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/s748

New Bill Introduced in the House

Earlier today, Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) introduced a bill into the House that would impose a 3-year lookback period for transfers made prior to a VA pension application. The text of the bill is not yet available. However, below is link to Rep. Rooney’s press release from earlier today:

http://rooney.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3517&Itemid=300084

Be sure to check back for additional updates as ElderCounsel continues to monitor these activities.

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