On this first day of autumn, the Stone Law Firm is launching a new series of blogs on Recent Changes in Elder Law.
Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension
Proposed new rules for the Veterans Aid and Attendance Pension could make sweeping changes to the pension, if implemented. The proposed new rules would add a 36-month look-back period and a penalty for gifting property, similar to Medicaid. Another goal of the new rules is to clarify the maximum amount of assets that the veteran or widow can have in order to qualify. Medical eligibility criteria may also be tightened. The rules may be implemented as soon as October 1st or later in February, 2016. We do not know what the final rules will be or whether pending applications will be grandfathered.
With the legalization of same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Texas Medicaid Nursing Home program has extended spousal impoverishment protections to all married couples, including same-sex married couples. Spousal impoverishment protections are designed to protect the finances of the beneficiary’s spouse by providing a minimum monthly income to the spouse and allowing the spouse to keep one-half or more of the couple’s assets.
A Medicaid rule change has occurred in regard to Applied Income, or the co-payment that a beneficiary pays to the nursing home. Medicaid will no longer exclude as an expense the withholding of taxes from Social Security and pension checks.
Estate Planning, Advance Directives, Guardianship
The Texas Legislature has enacted changes to the Statutory Durable Power of Attorney, Directive to Physicians, and Appointment of Agent for Disposition of Remains. In addition, the Legislature added certain patient protections to the controversial futile care law by providing a medical standard for the withdrawal of pain medication and artificially administered nutrition and hydration.
The Legislature also approved statutory changes that emphasize the use of less restrictive alternatives to guardianship, which deprives an incapacitated person of many legal rights.
Future blogs will provide additional details and updates on changes in elder law. For more information contact Nancy Stone at 713.434.6310.