Government Accountability Office Recommends Changes to VA Pension Program
June 7, 2012
A report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) calls for stricter oversight by the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) of its non-service connected pension program and for a penalty period for claimants who transfer assets in order to become eligible. According to the report, the VA's design and management of the program "do not adequately ensure that only veterans with financial need receive pension benefits."
The GAO recommends Congress consider a look-back review for the VA program, similar to that of Medicaid, to determine if an applicant has transferred assets prior to applying in order to qualify. In the case of Medicaid, applicants who transfer assets are generally subject to a penalty period during which they are not eligible to receive benefits. The GAO highlights one case in which a veteran was granted benefits after transferring more than a million dollars out of his personal account.
The GAO calls for the VA to "request information about asset transfers and other assets and income sources on application forms, verify financial information during the initial claims process, strengthen coordination with VA's fiduciary program, and provide clearer guidance to claims processors assessing claimants' eligibility."
For the full GAO report, go to http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-540.