Article 43-Estate Planning Series: How the VA is Changing the Rules for Veterans to Receive the Improved Pension Benefit – Part 3

Written by Wright Law on . Posted in Estate Planning, Improved Pension Benefit, Veterans

In recent columns I have explained the improved pension benefit available to many veterans or to spouses of veterans.   However, the qualifications will be changing. This is the last of three columns explaining what I expect the most significant changes to be.

I previously explained that unreimbursed medical expenses can be deducted from the income of otherwise qualified veterans to help establish the financial need to receive benefits.

When the new rules are adopted, I expect the VA to explain in greater detail the type of medical expenses that it will allow veterans to deduct.  For the first time, definitions will be provided for terms such as “activities of daily living,” “instrumental activities of daily living” and “custodial care.”  Whether expenses fall within these definitions will directly impact whether those expenses can be deducted.

The definition of “activities of daily living” will not be a surprise to those familiar with the term.  These activities address basic needs such as bathing, dressing, toileting and mobility.  I expect the costs of receiving help for these activities to be deductible from the veteran’s income to help establish financial need. 

However, there are other activities for which many need assistance but which will not be considered as necessary.  These are called “instrumental activities of daily living” and the costs for assistance will likely not be deductible.   Examples include assistance with paying bills, medication and meal preparation.

Similarly, the costs for independent living facilities will likely not be an expense that a veteran can deduct.   However, if there is a need for greater supervision, called “custodial care,” those costs should be deductible.  “Custodial care” includes the cost of care for a person who requires assistance with two or more activities of daily living or who has a mental disorder that requires regular supervision.  

For those who feel they may qualify for the improved pension benefit, I encourage you to locate a veteran’s service organization to see if they can assist.

© 2015 Steven J Wright  

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