Veterans Benefits

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The downside of Veterans Annuities the salesperson won't tell you about


Florida Certified Elder Law Specialist
Nationally Certified Elder Law Attorney
Florida and New Yokr Bar
The pitches are everywhere in Florida: So-called Veterans Benefits experts offer free seminars to condo associations. They advertise on radio and in newspapers. The companies they represent have patriotic-sounding names. They distribute glossy brochures stuffed with red, white and blue.
So what are these folks selling? Veterans Annuities. The pitch is this: If you are an otherwise eligible veteran who cannot get Aid and Attendance benefits because of excess assets, all you need to do is buy one of these annuities with the excess assets, and voila: instant access to benefits to help you pay the costs of long-term care nursing home, assisted living or home care. It is true enough that the V.A. does not "look back" at asset transfers, but there's a lot more to this issue that you need to consider before taking the leap. 
First, tying up money in an annuity is almost never a good idea for an elderly person. If you ever need the money, you'll incur substantial penalties when you withdraw it.
Second, people need more intensive help as they age, not less. So if you're a veteran or surviving spouse in need of Aid and Attendance benefits, somewhere down the line you may want to apply for Florida Medicaid benefits for long-term care to help you with your more extensive needs. In Florida, if the veteran purchases an annuity and then has to apply for Medicaid for long-term care, the state of Florida MUST be designated as a beneficiary of that annuity for Medicaid expenses. That's the part that the annuity salesperson doesn't tell you, and may not know himself. One thing is for sure: the commission to the salesperson on these products is quite handsome.

Iif you are a veteran or a veteran's surviving spouse and need help, DO NOT purchase an annuity without consulting with a Florida Bar Certified Elder Law Attorney who is also accredited by the V.A. to give benefits advice. Your attorney will help you fully understand the pros and the cons  and explain alternatives  to buying an annuity. All the attorneys of The Karp Law Firm are V.A. accredited.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Veteran Receiving Non-service Connected Pension and Aid and Attendance Benefits – VA Demand for Overpayment

By Susan M. Graham, Certified Elder Law Attorney, Senior Edge Legal, Boise, Idaho

Are you a veteran receiving benefits for non-service connected pension and Aid and Attendance?  Has the VA made a demand to be paid back for overpayment to you?

What can you do?

The VA can forgive any debt if there was no indication of fraud, misrepresentation, or bad faith on the part of the claimant and recovery of the debt would be against equity and good conscience.  [38 USC § 3502 and 38 CFR § 1.963(a)]. 

You can request that the debt be forgiven or ask that there be a “waiver of the debt”.  The request must be in writing and received by the VA within 180 days of the VA’s decision.  If you fail to request that the debt be forgiven within the deadline, the VA can garnish Social Security benefits, stop your VA benefits and garnish any tax return you may be receiving.

What is the bottom line?  Pay attention to your mail.  If you have been receiving VA benefits and you get a letter stating you have been overpaid, do something.  Take action!  If you don’t act in a timely fashion, you will be on the hook for the overpayment.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Are You a Veteran? Do you qualify for a ‘Presumptive Disability Benefit?”

by Susan M Graham, Esq.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has a list of “Presumptive” Disability Benefits for Certain Groups of Veterans.  What does it mean to have a “presumptive” service connected disability?  According to the VA they presume “that specific disabilities diagnosed in certain veterans were caused by their military service.”

This means if you are a veteran and have been diagnosed with one of the identified conditions you may be eligible to receive a military service connected disability.  

I have attached the list prepared by the VA.

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