The benefits available from the VA help many veterans through difficult periods of their life. The benefits may help veterans obtain a college education, transition to the civilian workforce, compensate for a disabling injury, or pay for home care during old age. However, the nature of most benefits is that they are time-sensitive; the veteran in need of the benefit cannot wait indefinitely to receive it without diminishing the effect. Over the course of the last several years, the VA has been faced with an increasing backlog of disability claims due to outdated systems and application processes, among other problems.
The continuing and growing backlog has persisted due to a number of factors. Most recently, the government shutdown ceased most VA functions, including claims processing. The mandatory overtime VA workers were facing prior to the shutdown in order to finally make headway on the backlog ceased. Additionally, veterans benefits were in jeopardy of going unpaid on November 1 due to the shutdown because the VA expected to run out of funds to pay the benefits! Ironically, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill that, among other things, reduces bonuses for VA employees as a result of the poor progress on the backlog. What’s more? They passed it unanimously! The new bill, if passed by the Senate and signed by the president would decrease available funds for VA bonuses by 14% even though the most recent backlog increase was caused by Congress.
In addition to the cuts to bonuses, however, the bill contains a number of additional provisions. The bill allows the VA to appoint fiduciaries to individuals who are incapable of making their own financial decisions. Veterans will be able to pre-designate their fiduciary , as is the case for a regular Financial Power of Attorney. However, the VA may override your choice and notify you of the reason. If you have named a Financial POA, that person is allowed priority for appointment by the VA, along with relatives and conservators. This person may receive your VA benefits on your behalf.
The House bill further requires that benefit denials be sent with an appeals claim form. By sending the forms, it is more likely that those who wish to appeal an adverse decision will know the appeal is possible and avoid missing any deadlines that apply. Finally, the bill would recognize the service of reserve military members as honorary veterans, without changing their benefit status.
If you have not reviewed your plan for VA benefits, including your QVap Trust, in the last few years, it may be time to verify that your goals will continue to be met, even as the law changes. It is particularly important to verify that you have chosen an appropriate trustee, executor, financial POA, and VA fiduciary. Further, to the extent that your various fiduciaries differ from each other, it is important to regularly reevaluate the relationships among your various choices!
VA Aid & Attendance–How Can I Correctly Choose Help for my Application Process? FREE REPORT: This complimentary report focuses on the various kinds of people one can consult when applying for the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit. Who one chooses can mean the difference between success and failure. Remember, if you are denied, you may not be able to reapply for up to a year or longer. Download our complimentary report for a behind the scenes look at the different types of people you can consult and the dirty underbelly of the Veterans Aid & Attendance industry.