Do the New VA Pension Laws Encourage Divorce?
By Greg McIntyre, Elder Law Attorney.
I was thinking of the new VA pension rules that go into effect December 18th and I cannot tell you how unfair and inequitable it is to spouses. The majority of people caring for their spouse are women, so I think it’s discriminatory to women, it’s discriminatory to married couples and the question is, does it encourage divorce right there in the rules?
I’m speaking out even though I know sometimes when you stick your neck out, you get your head chopped off, but at least then I’m talking about it.
There are a lot of wives caring for their husbands right now, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are some husbands caring for their wives too, but statistically more women care for men.
I have cases right now where wives are caring for their husbands, and the husbands cannot get their VA pensions because of VA rules that discriminate against spouses as caregivers.
I’m calling a spade a spade. If I get smacked by VA, then whatever, but here’s why I consider this outright discrimination.
VA should change its rules because:
If I needed care, I could bring in any caregiver to give care at my home (such as my daughter) and she could be paid for the care she provides. The payment she receives from the veteran (her father) is counting against his household income. This is for either a single or married veteran because those incomes are counted together.
However, if my wife was caring for me, she cannot count that towards the total income of the household to pay herself. That’s just wrong.
If you get married, it is until death do you part. She is caring for her husband out of loving concern for him, yes, but you should be able to count that against the veteran’s pension.
Why can every other caregiver, no matter who it is, be paid for providing care, but you can’t pay your own spouse and count that off to qualify for your pension?
I do not understand that. I think VA is wrong with these rules.
Where it hits me hard is this:
I’m married, I’m a veteran, I have six children and I value my marriage. That same couple (mentioned earlier) could get divorced and that former spouse give care and count it off against the income they bring in, and then the veteran would qualify for the benefit.
So is VA, through their rules, rewarding and encouraging divorce to obtain a veteran’s pension benefit?
I think it’s wrong.
This affects millions of veterans out there. By not allowing a spouse to take payment and count it off against the care they give, VA is denying many veterans their rightful pension benefit.
They’re saying to the care-giving spouse, you must care for your husband or wife because it’s your job, but you can’t be paid for the care you provide.
The sad thing is I haven’t heard anyone speak out about it. I’ve heard experts in the VA quote that rule with absolutely no feelings about it. I wish some others would speak up because it’s so wrong. It’s discriminatory and denies veteran’s the pension benefits they should receive that would greatly help them and their family.
Perhaps it would allow the wife to get some respite if there was an extra couple of thousand dollars coming in
There are other statistics available that will show you how deep this goes.
Check out the statistics of the life expectancy of familial caregivers. Did you know, a spouse who is the caregiver, is far more likely to become ill or die while care-giving because of the emotional, physical and financial stress they’re under.
So here is a secondary question: Now I’m going to get in trouble.
So, a spousal or family caregiver that lives with someone who is getting care, their live expectancy drastically reduces. This is not spit-balling here. Go google it. This is fact.
The life expectancy of a caregiver who is a spouse or family member is drastically reduced because of the stress, and the lack of sleep. And it’s not their job. But they are expected through VA to qualify for the pension and provide that care free of charge. They are going to die younger and earlier, statistically, because of that role.
(Also, many spouses who provide care to their husband or wife give up their careers to do so because they cannot afford professional care.)
If they were to receive a veteran’s pension, and count that work they’re doing looking after their spouse, then they could pay a professional caregiver to come in with that extra pension. This would allow them to live a more stress free life.
These policies, made at a national level have deep rooted resounding effects, not only on the money coming in to households of veterans, but also on life spans of their care-giving spouses.
When I went to law school, one of the things I keyed on and one of the things I internally hold to is a sense of equity and fair play. I cannot stand corruption, or when the scale of lady justice is leaning to one side and is not balanced. I can’t stand it. It eats away at me. I see this as total inequity and foul play. There is no fair play here.
The rules and the law of equity is actually a theory of law. This doesn’t play under the rules of equity in any way. I can pay a son, daughter, niece, nephew, a stranger, a private agency, but I can’t pay my spouse who has seen me through my life and is now caring for me 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The children may not be close by to help. They may live in a different state and have jobs there or may not have the money to pay for caregivers. That is why they need the pension benefit. If I pay anyone else but my spouse, I could qualify for that pension benefit. How wrong is that?
I’m Greg McIntyre, I am a veteran and certified attorney through the department of veteran’s affairs, however, that doesn’t mean every decision VA makes is correct. My hope is being in the USA gives me the right to speak out and as a representative for veterans and their spouses, I feel it is my heart felt duty to speak up.
I would love to hear your comments on this. If you want to see if you qualify for a veteran’s pension benefit, call my number, 704-259-7040, or visit mcelderlaw.com/vetbens.
Fight the good fight.
704-259-7040 Shelby Office
704-998-5800 Charlotte Office
Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law