“Do I need a lawyer or can I go to the VA directly about VA Pension?”

We talked about this a little bit, but I just want to focus in on one part. You certainly can go to the VA directly. They can give you the forms. My experience is they’re not going to give you advice on how you get your assets to a level that you qualify and how you get your income to a level that qualifies because they’re not supposed to give you legal advice.

Here’s the typical way it works according to clients that have approached me about this. They say, “I called the VA and I said, ‘Hey, what’s this thing about the VA Pension?’”

A few of them have been told “We don’t have that. You have to be injured while you’re in service.” But that’s not correct.

The VA may tell you, “Yes, we have this program. Let me ask you, how much money do you make – Social Security, retirement, pension?” This may be somebody living in an assisted living facility.

They say, “I have $3,500 of income.”

The VA says, “I’m so sorry. You make too much money. You’re too rich to qualify.”

But they don’t say, “What are your unreimbursed medical expenses?”

It’s the same thing with assets. “How much do you have in assets?”

“I do have a $200,000 investment property.”

“Well, you’re too rich, too wealthy.”

They don’t say – and they really cannot say because this is legal advice – “You can do things to transfer that.” There’s also typically a county VA officer or representative and these people are very nice and very helpful. The problem is a lot of times they do not know about this benefit. Or if they do, they’re still in that same situation where they can’t give you legal advice. They can’t say, “You could set up a Personal Services Contract that complies with Medicaid. That will reduce your income for VA purposes.” They can’t tell you that.

It’s the same thing with the assets. They typically do not say, “By the way, you can transfer these assets but be aware of the issue with Medicaid.”

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