You might be saying to yourself, “what’s a VA Annual EVR?
If you have been approved for the VA Improved Pension also known as “Aid and Attendance”, then the prior year’s you were required to file on or before March 1 a report known as the EVR. This report would affirm your income and out of pocket medical expenses for the prior year and if you were not receiving the maximum benefit you would also be able to claim a refund of those expenses up to the maximum amount you would have been eligible to receive.
On December 20, 2012 the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that they are changing the verification process for annual Eligibility Verification Report (EVR). Though this appears to be to advantage of the Veteran community, it may not be as good as it appears. There are issues that have yet to be addressed.
The intent of this change is to free the workers that would be needed to process the 150,000 EVRs that would be sent to pension beneficiaries in January 2013.
The VA felt that by eliminating these annual reports, the VA would reduce the burden on Veterans, their families, and survivors because they will no longer be required to return these annual reports to VA each year. This will avoid the consequence of
suspension of benefits if the report is not returned by March 1st of a given year.
The VA believes this action will allow them to re-direct a workforce of 100
employees who would normally process EVRs to work on eliminating the claims
The IRS has agreed to work in close partnership with the VA and the Social Security Administration to provide needed data quickly and effectively to move this effort forward.
So why should I be concerned?
This could cause more confusion and loss of benefits for claimants due to the lack of specifics of how the issues are going to be addressed.
The VA will not be able to free up as many employees as they expect due to:
(1) The need for processing claims for reimbursement of medical expenses for claimants that are not getting the full pension and,
(2) To deal with the questions from claimants as to why their pension was decreased (due to increase in income). If the past is any indication, it will take the VA many months to realize there is a problem and even longer to recommend or create a solution.
So, what can I do?
In the past, a Veteran couple, single Veteran or widow could reach the maximum
pension by filing additional miscellaneous medical expenses on an EVR. However,
the EVR is no longer available. This would result in claimants missing out on some of their pension benefits.
What you can do is file a new medical expense form (21P-8416) to show your additional out of pocket medical expenses that have not been previously reported to the VA.
If you are already receiving the maximum pension benefit, you have one less thing you need to worry about. Just remember the VA will check with the IRS to see what 1099’s were filed, and with the Social Security Administration to verify you Social Security payment, which usually goes up each year. So if your medical expenses previously reported do not exceed these new income amounts, then the VA could reduce the benefit received.
This should be done after January 1 of a given year and before March 1 of that same year, providing the VA with the prior year’s increased medical expenses. This is the same time period for filing the EVR.
This change has not been formally addressed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. There has been no policy statement issued to give guidance concerning the additional medical expense forms. So, be patient but persistent when dealing with the VA and the best way to communicate is on the VA forms, usually a “Statement in Support of Claim” and sent to the VA by certified mail return receipt requested, and keep a copy of all correspondence sent to the VA for your records.
Happy New Year!
Barron Law Firm