2017 Veterans Aid and Attendance Program: Understanding the Changes

Veterans Aid ProgramLast year, following the passing of an emergency bill, veterans saw significant changes to the pension claiming rules set by Social Security. The said changes aimed to prevent US debt default, exclude Medicare from massive premium increases, and extend the life of Social Security’s insurance program for people with disability.

Many veterans and financial planners are still reeling from readjusting their strategies; yet, new eligibility requirement restrictions are being rolled out this 2017 under The Proposed Rule AO73. The Veterans Aid and Attendance (A&A) is implementing changes concerning their pension, which helps them manage in-home care or senior living expenses.

Fortunately, these new changes seem like it will cause less of an upheaval compared to last year’s modifications. They even include a modest monthly payout increment due to a cost-of-living (COL) adjustment. Unfortunately, they also involve a three-year look-back into the senior’s financial history, which can possibly disqualify those who were previously entitled to receive the allowance.

Anticipated Changes to the Pension

Pension Benefit ProgramThere had been no adjustments recorded in 2016, but starting January 2017, Social Security payments will have a 0.3 percent increase, or about $5 a month. Moreover, from $2639 in 2016, the maximum possible payout for seniors retiring at full retirement age (66) will increase to $2,687 this year.

The A&A Pension covers both senior housing and in-home care which can provide a veteran with up to $1,788 per month, $2,120 for a couple, $1,149 for a surviving spouse, and $1,406 for a veteran with a sick spouse. These new adjustments, along with the arrival of companies that offer quality senior care such as the Comfort Keepers of Manassas, can significantly help improve the quality of life of seniors.

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The tax cap, moreover, will be higher in 2017: from $118,500 in 2016, it will increase to $127,200. The change will allow 12 million Americans to pay more into the social security system.

Do You Qualify?

Veterans and their spouses must have $80, 000 or less in total assets, excluding one vehicle and one home to qualify. In addition, the veteran must have been honorably discharged and served 90 consecutive days, with at least one day during an approved period of war.

At present, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) only relies on a veteran’s income, expenses, and assets at the time of application to determine whether or not they are eligible. With the proposed changes in eligibility, however, the VA is likely to look into the past three years of the applicant’s financial records. These new regulations mean that the VA might disqualify previous dependents for the current version of the pension. It, however, also means that more veterans and their families will be eligible for application.