The kids are back in school and it is finally Fall! This month, we discuss the new changes to VA pension rules and we also need your help "bailing out" Helena Mock! The monthly recipe has a few different options along with one for those who may be more thirsty than hungry. Thank you for being a part of our TPC family!
Autumn in Colonial Williamsburg
October 2018 News
Changes to VA Pension Rules
On October 18, 2018, new rules are going into effect involving VA Pension benefits, which are commonly called “Aid and Attendance” benefits.

The purpose of VA Pension is to provide financial assistance to medically-eligible veterans and their widow(er)s. Unlike Medicaid, which pays for the entire portion of an individual’s nursing home costs which the individual cannot afford to pay herself, Pension does not guarantee that the veteran will have sufficient funds to pay for a nursing home. Instead, it provides an additional source of monthly income which can then be used to help the veteran’s assets last longer in paying out-of-pocket for long-term care.

To receive Pension benefits, a veteran need not have been injured during his wartime service, but rather is currently disabled (perhaps, due to age) and in need of assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, toileting, or feeding oneself. Additionally, to be eligible for VA Pension benefits, the veteran has always needed to have a low financial net worth. In other words, the veteran must have less than a certain amount of monthly income, and less than a certain amount of accumulated assets. If the veteran’s income exceeds the eligibility threshold but the veteran has a great deal of medical expenses not reimbursed, the VA will deduct those expenses from the veteran’s income in making its eligibility calculation.

Under the old VA rules, a veteran could, without penalty, give away as much of his accumulated assets as necessary in order to reduce his assets and become financially eligible for Pension. The assets could be given to a trustworthy child as an early inheritance or with the hope that the child would help pay for the veteran’s care by using that gifted money on the veteran’s expenses. Similarly, the assets could be transferred to an irrevocable trust or into an annuity so they were no longer within the veteran’s control (thus, making the veteran financially eligible for Pension), but would still be used for the veteran’s benefit. Therefore, under the old rules, a veteran with substantial accumulated assets could simply transfer all of those assets away one day and qualify for Pension benefits the next day.

The new rules, however, will impose a penalty on assets which have been given away or transferred for less than their fair market value. This is intended as a way to maintain the purpose of the Pension program: to provide assistance to those who are truly financially needy. Therefore, a penalty period is imposed on veterans who have made transfers for less than fair market value within three years of the veteran becoming eligible for Pension benefits. The length of the penalty period is directly related to the value of assets which were given away.

This new policy impacts asset protection planning strategies, then, as a veteran or surviving spouse must now plan to make any gifts or transfers more than three years before expecting to need Pension benefits. However, though this is a new factor to consider in Pension planning, a “look back period” and penalties on asset transfers are very familiar concepts in long-term care planning, as Medicaid has always had these rules. Because Medicaid planning and VA Pension planning often go hand-in-hand, a long-term care planning attorney should already have considered the ramifications of making gifts and risking a penalty period when advising her clients.

The new VA Pension rules make many other changes regarding eligibility and medical expenses, but the look back period will likely have the most significant impact on the majority of prospective VA Pension recipients. If you have previously engaged in any long-term care planning with the intention of qualifying for Pension benefits, you should talk to a VA Accredited attorney to make sure that these new rules will not impact your current plan, and to revise the plan as needed.

"Bail Out" Helena "The Professor" Mock!
Please support Helena Mock in this FUNdraiser for Dream Catchers at the Cori Sikich Therapeutic Riding Center! ( ) She is participating in their Cowboys Uncorked event at the Williamsburg Winery on Sunday November 12th and will need to raise “bail” (donations), so that she can earn her “release” from the Cowboys Uncorked Jailhouse.
Cowboys Uncorked is an annual fundraiser held at the Williamsburg Winery for 275 guests, which is hosted by and which benefits Dream Catchers. Dream Catchers is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to provide life-changing equine assisted activities and therapies to children and adults with special needs. Each year, the Center provides over 4,000 lessons to about 500 students from 4 years of age to senior citizens in their 90’s. We believe in their mission, and we hope you will join us in supporting their important work by making a donation!

Just CLICK ON THE POSTER BELOW and help “Bail Helena Out of Jail”!   

Monthly Mind Game
Letter Garden
Can you clear the entire garden? A unique take on the Word Collapse game style -- spell words by linking letters, clearing space for your flowers to grow. Click here to play.
Recipe of the Month
Apple Cider Glazed Chicken
The perfect chicken recipe for fall. Pair with a grilled peach salad using the rest of your summer peaches and rosemary roasted potatoes . For the chicken recipe click this link .

Thirsty? Use the rest of your apple cider to make these Moscow mules with a seasonal twist.
In case you missed it...
New Alzheimer's Drug Shows Promising Results in Clinical Trial
By Elizabeth Johnson
A large clinical trial involving 856 patients was done to test a new Alzheimer's drug called BAN2401. The drug was developed by a Japanese company, Eisai, and Massachusetts based company, Biogen. Patients in the trial were from the United States, Japan, and Europe, and all had early symptoms of cognitive decline and significant amounts of the amyloid protein that forms plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer's dementia. The drug may be the first to successfully attack both the physical brain changes and symptoms of Alzheimer's and was able to reduce the plaques in the brains and slow the progression of dementia. Currently, Alzheimer's affects 44 million people worldwide and it is estimated that number will triple by 2050. More trials will be needed in order to know if the drug is truly effective before it can be released to patients, but there seems to be a lot of hope that the medical field is progressing to defeat this disease.

To read more about this topic, follow this link to an article from The New York Times.
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Helena S. Mock, Esq.

461 McLaws Circle, Suite 2
Williamsburg, VA 23185 
Phone: 757-969-1900