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VA Plans to Make It More Difficult to Gain Benefits
April 12, 2017
  

The VA rules and policy for benefits are expected to change drastically in 2017. The changes are specifically constructed to address past issues with veteran applicants who would conceal their personal assets or transfer their assets in order to qualify for VA benefits. The upcoming changes could potentially disqualify millions of veterans who were previously eligible to receive VA benefits. 
 
One of the biggest changes under the new proposed eligibility requirements means that the VA will likely implement a three-year look-back period of a veterans’ financial history to determine eligibility for benefits. The new rule change is very similar to Medicaid’s five-year look-back period.  
 
Moreover, the majority of the proposed changes are dedicated to making it more difficult to qualify for VA benefits. Other changes seek to limit an eligible veteran’s net worth, tighten regulations for calculating assets if a primary residence is sold, and penalize gifting or transferring covered assets within the three-year look-back period. The most serious limitations under the proposed changes are those now defining allowable medical expenses.

Lastly, under the new rule changes, there is a presumption that any transfer made during the three-year look-back period – including donations to places of worship or charity organizations – was done for the purpose of becoming eligible for VA benefits. The proposed rules offer little recourse for appeal to explain the legitimacy of any transfers in the three-year look-back window.
 
Be on the lookout, the new rule changes could be implemented as early as June, July or August 2017.  Therefore, it may be a good idea for all veterans seeking VA benefits to start planning as soon as possible to take advantage of veterans benefit opportunities while they are still more widely accessible.

      

VA Launches New Access and Quality Tool
April 13, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is taking unprecedented steps to increase transparency.  Today, VA launched a new Access and Quality Tool that provides Veterans with an easy-to-use, easy-to-understand way of accessing patient wait time and quality of care data. This tool not only provides Veterans with more information about VA services, it increases accountability and ensures VA is held to a higher standard.

“Veterans must have access to information that is clear and understandable to make informed decisions about their health care,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. David J. Shulkin. “No other health-care system in the country releases this type of information on wait times. This allows Veterans to see how VA is performing.”

The tool allows Veterans to access the average times patients are waiting to be seen in their local area; how Veterans describe their experiences scheduling primary- and specialty-care appointments at specific VA facilities; timeliness of appointments for care needed right away; and the quality of health care delivered at VA medical centers compared with local private-sector hospitals. The Access and Quality Tool is the most transparent and easy to understand wait time and quality data website in the health-care industry.   

“This tool is another example of VA leading the way,” said Acting Under Secretary for Health Dr. Poonam Alaigh. “No one in the private sector publishes data this way. This tool will instill a spirit of competition and encourage our medical facilities to proactively address access and quality issues while empowering Veterans to make choices according to what works best for them and their families.”

VA will continue to make improvements to this tool based on the feedback it receives from Veterans. The Access and Quality Tool can be found at www.accesstocare.va.gov.

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