CALL TO ACTION AND TIME SENSITIVE

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by vetadmin, Mar 1, 2015.

  1. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    Behind Closed Doors, the VA is silently working without the approval, consent, or awareness of Congress to rewrite regulations that will have dire consequences for all veterans, but mostly impacting those who can no longer manage their day without the assistance of others.

    After two bills failing in Congress to get approval, the VA has elected to act without authority to impose a 3- year look-back on a benefit that the VA has remained silent about for 64 years.
    For those who have the least amount of time left on the clock, the VA plans to bury this benefit under the guise of “protecting” senior veterans from “Pension Poachers”.

    Poachers who would have never had the opportunity to exploit and monetize senior veterans or their widows, had the VA been forthcoming in the past 64 years in their efforts to inform and educate veterans about the Aid and Attendance benefit and their eligibility.

    The VA knows that they do not have the “authority” to independently impose this look-back, and that they have no plans to allow for a “grandfather” clause, but if Congress is unaware and they can keep them at bay, they will implement, and play the “We Didn’t Know” card.

    Impacting all veterans is the VA’s plans to do away with the ability to file “informal claims”, and they plan to implement that change as of March 24th, 2015. This will do away with benefits accruing during the application process.

    The VA relies on their covert actions that go unnoticed by the general public let alone the veterans who will be impacted by these types of changes until it is too late to do anything except feel even more betrayal by the agency who is failing our veterans daily with their delays and denials.

    Congress needs to be made aware of what the VA is currently doing, and I am asking you to take 5 minutes out of your busy day to either call or email your State Senator and Congressperson to make them aware with the hope of holding the VA accountable for acting independently and without authority.

    You can Google your state representatives and find their DC phone numbers, fax numbers and email addresses. Let them know you are desiring to make them aware of the VA’s “AO73” - Proposed Rule - Net Worth, Asset Transfers, and Income Exclusions for Needs-Based Benefits.

    If you are interested in reading in VA convoluted language that is intended for no one to understand, see this link on the proposal. http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=VA-2015-VBA-0003-0001 Deadline for comments on this matter is March 24th, 2015, so time is of the essence.

    I’m also asking that you share this information with all of your contacts, and ask them to do the same.

    It is going to take a full blown effort to bring this matter to the attention of Congress, and to allow them to STOP the VA on this measure.

    People often say, “I am just one person, what could I possibly do to make a difference?” Well here’s your opportunity to say that you did!

    Thanks in advance for standing up, and speaking up for those who make the sacrifice.
     
  2. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    My hope is that folks are acting, and calling their state reps as the clock is ticking on this issue.

    Was very pleased to see that some progress is being made. Senator Pat Toomy of PA commented on the open comment section. My hope is he is sharing with others what the VA is trying to do.

    If PA is your state, please let him know you appreciate him stepping up!

    His comments are as follows:

    February 16. 2015
    Stuart Weiner
    Congressional Liaison Service
    U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
    By email: sruart.weioer@vago\'

    Dear Mr. Weiner,

    Re: RlN 2900-A073, Net Worth. Asset Transfers and Income Exclusions for Needs Based Benefits.
    I have been contacted by a number ofmy constituents who are very concerned with the V A's proposed
    rule changes in RJN 2900-A073. Specifically, these constituents disagree with the V A's assertion that
    the rule changes are the intent ofCongress, and in fact, many of them view the rule changes as an
    attempt on the part of the VA to circumvent Congress. In an effort to bring some clarity and,
    understanding to the issue,l would appreciate your consideration and review of the following
    questions:

    1) Has the V A given consideration to the possibility that these rule changes may cause a veteran
    to avoid seeking care because they fear running out offunds?

    2) Has the V A thoroughly reviewed Medicaid asset limit rules as it compares to the proposed
    "bright line .net worth limit" ?

    3) Why is the V A now implementing a 36 month look back period thai Congress did not move out
    of committee?

    4) Has the V A considered the possibility that the proposed language regarding grandfathering of
    current claims may actually cause elderly veterans to become homeless?

    5) Does the V A believe that it is the intent of Congress to make veteran pensions more restrictive
    than Medicaid by disallowing the use of trusts and annuities as legitimate long-term care needs
    planning tools? Medicaid allows such planning.

    I would appreciate' any ~assistance you can provide in seeing that these questions are reviewed by the
    appropriate officials. If you require any further information please contact my Deputy State Director,
    Sue Zimskind. Sue can be reached by email at Sue_zimskind@toomey.senate.gov, by fax at
    610 434-1844. 'Or by phone at 610-434·1444.

    I am grateful for your time and consideration in this matter.
     
  3. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

  4. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    My response to open comments on the VA's proposal to implement a 3-year look back are as follows:

    I am not an Elder Law Attorney, nor am I a Financial Adviser, but I do come before you with a fair amount of credibility and a lot of insights on the topic of this pension and your failings.

    You can point to me as a direct resource as to why this pension has become so well-known and applied for in the past 10 years after sitting on your books for decades underutilized and unknown. I am the daughter of a WWII veteran, and the Founder of VeteranAid.org, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization.

    I more than most know the extent you have gone to in your efforts to keep this benefit out of the very hands it is intended for. My parents, their struggle, and your failures to honor the sacrifice of service resulted in me doing the job you would not do.

    So here you sit behind closed doors without the "authority" of Congress to essentially try and by pass the process, and impose more restrictions based on your "assumption" that the veteran or widow restructured assets to qualify financially for this pension rather than address the real issues that have led to this point.

    Your silence is what created this "issue".

    If you had been forthcoming in educating veterans and their families about this financial resource, then they would have known about it prior to entering the front door of a facility for a tour when the need for care arises. A sales representative or financial person doing a seminar should not have been the first point of contact and information. That burden is upon you. Your responsibility is to our veterans, which seems to have gone by the wayside.

    Currently 82% of residents in facility care nationwide, are either a veteran or their widow. If you were looking for a "target market", you just found it.

    County Service Officers should have been trained and instructed in out-reach services to contact and work with care facilities on a regular basis to ensure that residents not only were educated, but given competent assistance in making applications. By not doing so, you left the door open here for others to be that point of contact, and to leverage "gratitude" for being made aware of the pension.

    Noteworthy is the fact that most WWII and Korean veterans did not make 6-figures incomes, do not have 401 savings accounts, and on average, have $1100 - $1300 Social Security income to live on. That amount won't even get one person into facility care.

    I worked very closely with the Special Senate Committee on Aging and their "Pension Poacher" investigation in 2012. I have a "Statement for the Record" attached to that hearing, and was present. You were there, and in 3-years’ time, with two failed bills, you have done nothing in the way of corrective actions to shed light on this benefit leaving it still in the hands of those who use this pension as a "calling card".

    For the record, your proposal is not the answer. You will allow for those individuals to regroup and form a different marketing strategy, and the 3-year look-back will be how they close the sale. It will be used as leverage that in fear of not acting now, the applicant won't be able to avoid the look-back period, and therefore not be eligible.

    So you will be beaten at your own game, but at the expense of 99% of those veterans and widows who do not have assets to move, and cannot afford proper care and services without this pension. You have elected to impose limitations and penalties on those who have the least amount of time on the clock for the sake of 1%.

    You have made no allowance for those who gifted or set up Special Needs Trust prior to a need for care. Your recommended penalties go across the board in one fell swoop on the assumption it was all done for the purpose of qualifying for this benefit. How self-righteous of you to ensure that these individuals will not live long enough to see the penalty removed.

    Here's the take away from all this. You need to hold ALFA accountable for their unfettered access to their communities when presentations are not just for entertainment purposes. Many of these residents have impaired mental capacities, and are easily influenced, and often without the oversight of a concerned family member.

    You need to impose fines and penalties on individuals who are found to have deliberately mislead and misrepresented this pension, and who do not act in the best interest of the applicant. That's how you shut this down, and leave this pension intact for those who truly are in need and in keeping with the spirit of the law. There needs to be a consequence for those who cross this line with the sole purpose of monetizing a senior veteran or their widow.

    Accountability is what is needed here, and you are doing everything possible to avoid that it is your failures and your silence that let the fox into the hen house. All you have done is to provide yourselves with additional excuses. This action on your part is an egregious act and a total defiance and failure of the charge you have been given.
     
  5. newpenny

    newpenny Jr. Member

    You certainly know how to tell it like it really is.
     
  6. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks. I am known for speaking my mind, that's for sure.
     
  7. newpenny

    newpenny Jr. Member

    You need to go on the "Daily Show".
    On the Monday show of the "The Daily Show", Jon Stewart highlighted the struggles of some veterans to obtain the health care they needed.
    He was talking about “ The Choice Program.”
    The rule kept many who lived far from hospitals by roads from using the program. But on Tuesday, seemingly in response to what Stewart called his "damning piece of investigative joke-a-lism," the Department of Veterans Affairs changed the rule and will now use actual driven miles based on Google Maps rather than "as-the-crow-flies" miles.
    Jon Stewart pointed out how much money was being saved by this "as-the-crow-flies" miles.
    This is what happened on Tuesday:

    "The Daily Show" has just made a huge difference in the lives of veterans, helping many gain access to a program they were unfairly kept from using.
    The Choice Program, which was put in place to speed access to medical care after it was revealed that some patients had been waiting months for treatment, allows veterans who live far from VA facilities to get out-of-network care closer to home.
    The problem? To be eligible, you have to live 40 miles from the nearest VA facility using "as-the-crow-flies" miles.
    "Because that is the least-meaningful way to judge how hard it is to get somewhere for non-crows," Stewart said on Monday night's "Daily Show" as he highlighted the struggles of some veterans to obtain the health care they needed.
    The rule kept many who lived far from hospitals by roads from using the program. But on Tuesday, seemingly in response to what Stewart called his "damning piece of investigative joke-a-lism," the Department of Veterans Affairs changed the rule and will now use actual driven miles based on Google Maps rather than "as-the-crow-flies" miles.

    As he stated on his show, these changes were in the works long before his show aired but were made public after his show aired. Only wish they could act so quickly! Still, love his holding feet to the fire.

    The change in language will double the number of veterans eligible for the Choice Program.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/25/jon-stewart-veterans_n_6937380.html
     
  8. newpenny

    newpenny Jr. Member

    I forgot to say that" Many Times", Jon Stewart has talked about how badly we treat out veterans!
    This is the web page to watch the Monday show.
    http://thedailyshow.cc.com/full-episodes/aoti6l/march-23--2015---ayaan-hirsi-ali
     
  9. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    He is one of the very few who have stayed on the topic of Veterans and the VA.

    While a comedic delivery, he is on point. I have reached out to him in the past with the hopes of getting him to do a segment, but never got any type of response.
     
  10. newpenny

    newpenny Jr. Member

    Maybe he will now.
     
  11. jeanne68

    jeanne68 Newbie

    So, was this rule passed or not? Or is it still pending?
     
  12. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    Still pending.
     
  13. jlokken

    jlokken Newbie

    Hi, Just read this. Can we still be influential in contacting our State representatives?

    Jim Lokken
     
  14. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    Not sure where they currently are in the process, but I would absolutely still make that phone call.
     

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