Senate Bill Calling for Three-Year Look-Back on VA Pension Applications Is Reintroduced

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has reintroduced a bill he first presented last year requiring the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to look back 36-months for any uncompensated transfers that a veteran, spouse, surviving spouse or child otherwise eligible for a pension may have made. 

S. 748, the Veterans Pension Protection Act, appears to be identical to S. 3270, which Sen. Wyden introduced in the 112th Congress.  The new measure, which has five co-sponsors and bipartisan support, would require the Secretary to look for any resource that was part of the “corpus of the estate” of the veteran and of the veteran’s spouse that the Secretary considers would be “reasonable” to be consumed for claimant’s maintenance.  The look-back period would commence on the date of the pension application or the transfer, if it is later. 

The legislation calls for the imposition of a penalty period if an uncompensated transfer has been made, and the penalty would be calculated by dividing the value of the transferred resources by the amount of the monthly pension the claimant would otherwise be entitled to.  The penalty could not exceed 36 months.

A pension will not be denied if transferred assets are returned or if the denial or discontinuance of payment would work an undue hardship.  The legislation would take effect one year after enactment and apply to pensions applied for or redeterminations after that date.  It was referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

As ElderLawAnswers reported, the original bill came on the heels a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that found abuses among a small group of attorneys and financial planners who help veterans transfer assets in order to qualify for VA pension benefits like Aid and Attendance.

For the full text of S. 748, click here.