GAO Calls for Asset Transfer Rules for VA Pension Applicants, Legislation Planned

About 200 organizations are marketing financial and estate planning services to help pension claimants with excess assets qualify for the VA’s Aid and Attendance and other pension benefits, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) concludes after a year-long investigation.

Citing abuses among these firms, the agency recommends that Congress consider establishing a look-back and penalty period for pension claimants who transfer assets for less than fair market value prior to applying for pension benefits, similar to Medicaid. The GAO says the VA agrees that look-back and penalty periods for asset transfers are needed, and the New York Times reports that a bipartisan group of senators plans to introduce legislation giving the VA look-back authority. The Times also notes that a senior official at the VA says the department is drafting new regulations that would clarify the types of asset transfers that might disqualify a pension applicant.

The GAO unveiled its findings in testimony at a June 6, 2012, Senate hearing, where lawmakers also heard from a VA official, veterans advocates and a woman whose father was victimized by one of the unscrupulous “pension poachers,” as Senate aging committee chair Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) dubbed them.

“While these organizations may be legally entitled to operate,” said witness Lori Perkio of the American Legion, “it is unclear as to whether or not they are truly serving the best interests of the veterans and their families.” In Florida, for example, Perkio claimed that “American Legion service officers have run across a growing number of lawyers specializing in elder law who contact veterans directly through assisted living facilities (ALFs) with promises of how to divert income and assets to qualify for VA pension. Many of these attorneys do not provide follow up assistance with the ultimate pension claims process.”

Full Article and Source:
GAO Calls for Asset Transfer Rules for VA Pension Applicants, Legislation Planned

One Response to “GAO Calls for Asset Transfer Rules for VA Pension Applicants, Legislation Planned”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    The GAO does good work and I am glad legislation is planned on this issue.

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