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Understanding the 5 Most Significant VA Regulation Changes

Understanding the 5 Most Significant VA Regulation Changes

New VA regulations go into effect on October 18 that will likely impact your homecare business and the veterans you serve. The VA’s final regulations are based on changes that were proposed in 2015. Here at VCC, we realized that some of the proposed changes, such as a $21/hr. cap on the cost of home care would have had a negative impact on veterans and disrupt business for those of us who work to connect them with the quality homecare they need.

Understanding VA Regulation Changes

 Understanding VA Regulation Changes

Because we believed the proposed changes would cause more harm than good, we took action by testifying in front of the Missouri House of Representatives Veterans Committee, and by stating our case with Governor Jay Nixon’s office, Senator Roy Blunt’s office, and Senator Claire McCaskill’s office. We campaigned to homecare organizations and clients across the country encouraging them to reach out to their elected officials and comment against portions of the VA’s proposed regulations.

After three years of fighting to protect the integrity of the pension program and the veterans and homecare companies we serve, we are pleased with the VA’s final regulations. Here is a breakdown of the top five changes.

 

  1. No Homecare Cap

The proposed $21/hr. cap on homecare was dismissed in its entirety. The final regulations do not include a limit to the hourly rate of home care. This means that home care companies can continue to offer exceptional care to veterans at a fair market rate.

 

  1. 3-Year Look-back Period

The VA has implemented a 36-month look-back period on asset transfers. The period will immediately precede the date on which the VA receives a pension claim (but the VA will disregard asset transfers made before October 18, 2018).  This regulation makes it more difficult for ‘pension poachers’ to take advantage of veterans. It also forces financial advisors and elder law attorneys to take veterans through a penalty period before they are able to assist with pensions.

 

  1. Threshold for Veterans Assets

The net worth limit to qualify for pension has increased from an approximate and variable $80,000 to a “bright-line net worth” of $123,600. This means determinations will no longer take into account life expectancy, rate of depletion of assets, and other factors. Not only will this limit the amount of inconsistent and unfair decisions, it will also expedite the decision process and allow veterans to retain a reasonable portion of their assets to respond to unforeseen events, including medical care. Additionally, the new limit will be increased by the same percentage as the Social Security increase whenever there is a cost-of-living increase. The most up to date limits will be published on the VA’s website.

  1. Definition of ADLs and IADLs

The Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) list has been revised to include ‘‘ambulating within the home or living area.” The original 1963 ADL list included bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, continence and feeding. The addition broadens the scope of assistance homecare companies are able to provide. The final definition of “custodial care” has also been revised to include individuals with a physical, mental, developmental, or cognitive disorder who require care or assistance on a regular basis. This revised definition includes assistance with ADLs and IADLs for those veterans suffering from dementia and other non-physical disorders who otherwise might not qualify for care.

  1. Length of Penalty Period

The penalty period assessed when a claimant transfers a covered asset has been reduced from a 10-year to a 5-year maximum to provide the appropriate balance of protecting the integrity of the pension program, while avoiding the ‘‘permanent’’ denials that could have resulted with a 10-year maximum penalty (given the age of many pension claimants). Only that portion of assets that would have made net worth exceed the bright line limit is subject to penalty.

Overall, we’re grateful for the changes and believe the final regulations better protect the integrity of the pension program by counteracting organizations that target elderly veterans and spouses with financial schemes.  This is good news for those whose goal it is to provide quality care to veterans in need.

 

If you have questions or are in need of assistance with the VA Pension, please contact the knowledgeable and friendly staff at Veterans Care Coordination™. Call today: 1-855-380-4400

Kyle Laramie, President

President, Founder at Veterans Care Coordination
After working in the field of occupational therapy, as well as various marketing, sales and management roles for both private duty nursing and assisted living providers, Kyle founded Veterans Care Coordination in April 2011. As president and owner of VCC, Kyle is driven by the memory of his grandfather. A World War II veteran, he unnecessarily missed out on essential VA benefits because Kyle’s family simply did not know about the opportunities that were available to assist him in his golden years.

Under Kyle’s leadership, Veterans Care Coordination has become one of the fastest growing senior service companies in the United States. Partnering with health care providers throughout the U.S., VCC serves more than 1000 clients in 45 states. The company currently employs more than 65 professionals.

In January 2014, Kyle was named to the St. Louis Business Journal’s prestigious “40 Under 40” list. The St. Louis Small Business Monthly also named him as one of the “100 St. Louisans to Know” in 2014. In 2015, Kyle was selected as one of ten national finalists for the 2015 Glenn Shepard Leadership Award. In addition, in September 2013, Veterans Care Coordination was honored by the St. Louis Small Business Monthly as one of the “Top 20” small businesses in the St. Louis area, in 2014 the company was honored as a finalist for the Arcus Awards and by the St. Louis Post Dispatch for being a Top Workplace.

Kyle is an accredited claims agent by the Department of Veterans Affairs. He is a frequent speaker on the topic of veterans’ benefits, addressing conferences such as the Home Care Association of America and the Northeast Home care Conference. Kyle currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Mid-East Area Agency on Aging and has been previously involved with the St. Louis Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. He resides in Lake St. Louis, Mo. with his wife and twin boys. In his spare time, Kyle is an avid tennis player.