Aid & Attendance Abuse
According to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) detailing a year-long investigation, the pension program is fraught with abuse. Over 200 financial planners and other firms have sprouted up across the country specializing in helping well-off veterans “restructure” their assets to appear indigent and therefore qualify for tax-free pensions. These pensions can pay more than $20,000 per year.
To qualify for these pension benefits, the veteran must be over 65 or permanently disabled, have served during wartime, and fall below the income threshold – $12,200 for a person with no dependents. However, by hiding assets in trusts or deferred annuities, these firms are able to get pension benefits for veterans with hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets.
While this “restructuring” of assets is not illegal under the current rules, this practice does undermine the very purpose of the pension system – aiding poor veterans. The GAO placed partial blame on the VA, calling for greater oversight and changes to the eligibility rules.
The VA said that it concurred with the GAO’s recommendations and that the department is drafting new regulations to clarify the types of asset transfers that might disqualify a pension applicant.
With over a half million veterans receiving pensions, clear regulations regarding eligibility are not just preferable, they are a necessity.
At Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC we do not handle aid and attendance claims and do not restructure assets to make veterans qualify. If you have questions, contact Kristina L. Derro.
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