Can we sell my Mom's house without disqualifying her A&A benefit?

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It is valued at $65K (based on recent appraisal & tax records). In July, 2012, the house appraised for $65k. Property tax records from our county courthouse show a valuation of $78k. A copy of these county tax records was submitted to the VA representative when we met to establish her fiduciary; however, no copy of the most recent appraisal has been submitted. Market value and therefore selling price would be around $65k. My sister and I are reluctant to place the house on the market because we don't want to risk the sale (which will be considered income) disqualifying her current A&A benefit. Mama receives the maximum monthly benefit for a qualifying spouse of a deceased veteran. She has dementia and moved into an assisted living facility in October, 2014. Realistically, she will never be able to live at home again and our family is certain that selling the house is in her best financial interest, so long as it doesn't affect her A&A benefit. Does anyone have experience with such a situation?

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Why sell the house? If she is getting her A&A then can't she keep it? Better get a copy of Gabriel Heiser's book, Medicaid Secrets, either buy it or check out of your public library. There may be some way to work around things, don't be too hasty with putting it up for sale. It might work that it could be re-titled into a Trust or some other vehicle which generates income for mom, and after she is gone, could be inherited. I'm not an attorney and you shouldn't listen to any of my ideas except that you should read that book, and consult an attorney, an elder care expert. The book will help you prepare for your visit.
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BEWARE:

The case , all cases, is based on the time of the application; There are many misunderstandings!

You MUST understand this $80,000 limit is a deceptive figure; it is SUBJECTIVE at the VA, It is an aged based GUIDELINE, it was used as a starting point for a 65 year old.... Not 75 and 85 aged, so older ages have a much. much lower
"threshold"
It is very likely the house sale ( is ), in her name, since she owned it at the TIME OF APPLICATION, thus may not only disqualify her, but cause a payback demand for benefits paid up to now!!!!

That is why self application is dangerous, I am happy to arrange for a pro bono educational office appointment for those interested in my Georgia office for information. Not be be construed as legal advice.

The link provided by 'whats a name' references a notice in the federal register, which describes a proposed measure to virtually eliminate eligibility for all except those with minimal assets, and unfairly discriminate against a surviving spouse regarding 'penalties'

While the Benefit is helpful, in reality with the cost of monthly care varying from $2,500 to about $5,500 a month for Assisted , and about $8,000 , or more a month for private pay Nursing, the ill thought out proposal will eventually increase MEDICAID costs, and deprive those who protected our freedoms, of promised care.
This can be be seen as an attempt by the VA to appear to have achieved a 'great reform', and while essentially diverting , distracting attention regarding it's bad press. by attacking some low hanging fruit, & still issuing bonuses,

It is going to be asking for excessive personal financial info to be evaluated by the untrained, and may put that info at great risk.
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Some of the 'rules' for A&A are about to change. You might want to take a look at the link I put here and maybe wait for the changes.

https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/01/23/2015-00297/net-worth-asset-transfers-and-income-exclusions-for-needs-based-benefits#h-13
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Normally the sale of the house after benefits have been applied for or received will cause the benefits to stop. You will need to provide a copy of the closing statement to the VA, and they will determine if the benefits will continue.
It is considered income in the month it is received, and will also affect the permitted amount of assets she can have, which is $80,000, but could be much lower depending upon her age, income and care expenses. It usually takes a year before you can re apply for benefits, and bring her back into acceptable income and asset levels. You need to look at her current income and all of her out of pocket medical expenses and what her assets are before the sale, and I would present the VA with all other expenses she has to further justify the higher asset level after the sale as long as it is below the $80,000 benchmark. Present the whole picture to the VA, but remember that any benefits paid after the sale, could result in an over payment and the VA could request they be returned. There is no clear cut answer, since there are so many other factors to consider.
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We had a similar problem.My sister in law who is POA put everything in a trust,I'm not sure of all the details ,she is a manager of a legal firm so they helped her with it.Also I know the VA has a program for Vets and their spouses that helps them with the cost of assisted living,it takes awhile to go through but once it does you will get retroactive from the time you applied .
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