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  • August 2, 2016

    August 2, 2016   Veterans Benefits

    Why do we have a Veteran suicide epidemic?

    By Valerie Peterson, J.D.

    In recent years, U.S. veterans have fallen victim to alarmingly high suicide rates. A recent Department of Veterans Affairs study found that 7,403 veterans committed suicide in 2014: approximately 20 veterans died by suicide every single day that year. To put these numbers into perspective, an average of 117 people commit suicide every day in the United States, which means that veterans accounted for 18% of all the country’s suicides in 2014, while comprising only 8.5% of the population. Some groups of veterans are harder hit by this morbid trend than others. The worst suicide pattern is among young male veterans ages 18-29, who suffered a rate of 86 suicides per 100,000 people in 2014. The rate of the next hardest-hit veteran demographic, young female veterans ages 18-29, was 33 per... Read More


  • July 7, 2016

    Member Spotlight: Anthony Bradley

    ElderCounsel Member Anthony Bradley, owner of The Bradley Law Firm PLLC in Germantown, Tennessee, recently returned from a once-in-a-lifetime trip with Forever Young Senior Veterans. This charity fulfills a dream for military veterans 65 years and older by returning them to the places where they fought. Anthony was the travel guest of a 95-year-old Veteran that he helped with VA Aid and Attendance benefits. The- full group included 11 Veterans from WWII; ages ranged from 88-95 years old. For Anthony, the experience was unique, amazing, and humbling as the guest of a WWII Veteran. They visited Paris, Normandy and Bastogne. Learn more about Forever Young Senior Veterans at www.foreveryoungvets.org. Thank you Anthony for giving back to our Veterans and sharing a few pictures with us.... Read More


  • June 20, 2016

    June 20, 2016   Veterans Benefits

    A Bill Focused on Putting Veterans First

    By Valerie Peterson, J.D.

    On April 28, 2016, U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs; and Richard Blumenthal, C-Conn., ranking member of the committee announced a sweeping reforms bill. Dubbed the Veterans First Act, the bill is intended to improve accountability and transparency in the Department of Veterans Affairs and to improve veterans’ health care and benefits. The bill is divided into nine sections. Title I addresses accountability in the VA, granting expedited removal authority for all VA employees based on performance or misconduct, prohibiting bonuses for employees who have been found guilty of wrongdoing, and affording the VA Secretary additional flexibility in hiring and firing senior executives. Title I of the Veterans First Act also crea... Read More


  • May 24, 2016

    May 24, 2016   Veterans Benefits

    Memorial Day Education Sale

    In honor of Memorial Day, we’re extending 30% OFF savings on all Veterans-related education. Gain knowledge and confidence, build client and referral source relationships, and increase profitability with education designed to enhance your practice. Browse our VA Planning education library, including: Veterans Pension Immersion Camp (13.25 CLE hours) VA Accreditation Webinar (3 CLE hours) Advanced VA Pension Planning (2.7 - 3 CLE hours) Hot Topics in VA Pension Planning: Proposed Changes to the VA Pension Eligibility Rules And more! The 30% off also applies to upcoming VA events! Join us live July 19 for our VA Accreditation Webinar (3 CLE hours)   Log in to take advantage of discounted prices from Friday, May 27 to Monday, May 30. Enter coupon code VETERANS30 t... Read More


  • December 18, 2015

    December 18, 2015   Veterans Benefits

    When Will We See New VA Pension Eligibility Rules?

    By Valerie Peterson

    This article was created from our Final Friday presentation on October 31, 2015. The quick answer is not for a while, and even then, they should have a 60-day delayed effective date.  We’ll take you through the reasoning below. Proposed changes to the VA pension eligibility rules were published in the Federal Register in January, 2015.  During the 3-month comment period, 864 comments were received.  Since that time there has been no action taken on the proposed changes in the Federal Register.  There of course has been a lot of speculation as to what may happen but we have not seen any modified rules, nor a published final rule.   When, what and howThe two areas where we see the most concern and speculation from attorneys across the country are 1) when will... Read More


  • April 3, 2015

    April 3, 2015   Veterans Benefits

    Does a VA Pension Claim Die With the Claimant?

    By Valerie Peterson

      Thankfully, a VA Pension claim does not die with the claimant…for the most part.  The VA has finally published a final rule on the concept of “Substitution” which allows an eligible surviving family member to stand in the shoes of the deceased claimant and finish a pending claim. The rule has been in the United States Code for several years, but regulations had not yet been passed. See 38 U.S.C. §5121A.   When formally published in the Code of Federal Regulations the Substitution regulations will be located at 38 CFR §3.1010.  The link to the final rule is: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-09-05/html/2014-21139.htm and has an effective date of October 6, 2014.   Who is an eligible surviving family member? 38 CFR §3.1000(a)(1)... Read More


  • March 18, 2015

    March 18, 2015   Veterans Benefits

    Time is Running Out to Voice Your Opinion

    By Valerie Peterson

    The VA has proposed sweeping changes to the VA Pension eligibility rules and time is running out to submit comments  and have your voice heard.  The deadline for all comments is March 24, 2015.   Who Should Comment? Everyone who cares about issues affecting our wartime veterans and their families should submit a comment.  It would be helpful for the VA to hear from Veterans and their families, as well as nonprofit organizations and other professionals, including VA Accredited attorneys, who assist Veterans.    What Should I Say? This is your chance to voice either support or opposition to the proposed rules and reasons for your opinion.   The VA must respond to comments made about the rules in the coming months.   Some of the changes that will i... Read More


  • January 27, 2015

    January 27, 2015   Veterans Benefits

    Veterans Administration Proposes Sweeping Rule Changes

    On January 23, 2015, the Veterans Administration (VA) published proposed rules in the Federal Register that would have a huge impact on wartime veterans, surviving spouses of wartime veterans and attorneys who assist them in obtaining pension benefits.   In part, the bill would:   1.   Establish a net worth limit equal to the maximum Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA) allowed under the Medicaid rules.  Currently, there is no net worth limit for claimants submitting a pension claim.  However, the VA is also proposing to include annual income as part of net worth. 2.   Define “reasonable lot area” for a primary residence as up to 2 acres.  There is currently no limitation on the “reasonable lot area” adjac... Read More


  • June 13, 2013

    June 13, 2013   Veterans Benefits

    Recent Happenings in the VA Pension Area

    Senate HearingYesterday 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 recognize... Read More


  • June 4, 2013

    Per Stirpes—The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

    By Brian Albee

    "Per stirpes," "by representation," and "per capita at each generation" are all descriptors that tell the reader how to allocate a gift among a person's descendants.  They are not shorthand for contingent beneficiary provisions.  (While this discussion applies to all three, I will use per stirpes for the rest of this blog.)The Good: It's easy.To use per stirpes correctly, you just have to follow one rule:  Always make the gift to a person's descendants, like "to [person's] descendants, per stirpes."  Note a couple of things: (1) in general, the person should be one person, not a class of people; and (2) the word "descendants" (or "issue") must always appear.  Here are some examples:-- to my descendants... Read More