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Legislation Introduced to Modify Veteran Affairs Program

A new bill was introduced in the Senate to require the Department of Veterans Affairs to consider past resources when assessing whether a veteran is eligible to receive pension benefits.

Following the hearing held earlier this month on abuses in the VA pension program, Senator Wyden and six other cosponsors introduced S. 3270. The bill provides a look back period of 36 months. If the veteran divests of covered resources for less than fair market value during the 36 months prior to applying for benefits, the Department of Veterans Affairs will deny the claim. This look back period would apply to all pensions provided under section 1513 or 1521.

The bill also requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit a report to Congress every year outlining the number of individuals who applied for program, the number of applicants who received benefits, and the number of those who were denied due to transfer of resources. Details about those who were denied benefits would also be included in the report.

ALFA supports establishing a look back period that prevents unqualified applicants from receiving benefits but also recognizes that this is only one part of the problem. Changes to the program that ensure qualified veterans receive their benefits are also extremely important. Education pertaining to the program’s eligibility standards, simplification of the application form, and reduction of the backlog of applications are all necessary to achieving a pension program that effectively serves America’s veterans.

Read ALFA’s suggestions for improving the VA pension program and view the newly introduced legislation.

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