VA, Congress slowly circle regulations to combat gaming of the veterans’ pension system

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In 2012, the Government Accountability Office found more than 200 financial planning firms and estate law offices enticing veterans or their survivors into costly annuities or irrevocable trusts intended to hide or reallocate their assets so they qualify for VA pensions that the claimants wouldn’t be eligible for otherwise.

Since then, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Congress have been crawling toward actions to stop the abusive practices, which twist the intent of the pension benefit in ways to help some veterans, put others in financial binds, and generate fees or profits or streams of residents for the schemers.

The crawl toward reform continues. VA is still working on a draft rule first released for public comment in January 2015. Final publication of the “Net Worth, Asset Transfers and Income Exclusions for Needs-Based Benefits” rule was expected this past summer. However, it remains “in VA’s internal concurrence process,” said a VA spokesman Wednesday.  VA, Congress slowly circle regulations to combat gaming of the veterans’ pension system


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