On September 18, the Veterans Administration (VA) published new rules that make it more difficult to qualify for this important benefit. For example, any gifts made in the past 36 months, either to a family member or to an irrevocable trust, would be penalized. Likewise, an investment in an annuity would also be penalized. This means a Veteran or surviving spouse could be prohibited from qualifying for VA pension benefits for up to 5 years, depending on the amount of the gift or transfer. There are other requirements to the new rules, but the above are the most impactful to any wartime Veteran or surviving spouse wishing to pursue these benefits and receive a monthly cash benefit to help with care costs. The good news is, anyone wishing to qualify can still take advantage of the current rules where there is no penalty for making gifts or transferring funds to an irrevocable trust. But they have to act quickly. The new rules go into effect on October 18, 2018, and we must have all planning done by that date. If you or a loved one might qualify for VA pension benefits, it is important that we set up a meeting or phone call as soon as possible so that we can take advantage of the current rules. Please call me at (805) 201-2552.