(Orange, Texas)

February 14, 2013

VA makes new regulations

Angela La Rose-Johnson
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — Many widows and veterans receive pension benefits based on the medical expenses subtracted from their annual income. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs have created new regulations regarding the Eligibility Verification Report (EVR). An explanation on pension benefits is, a veteran must have served during a wartime era to qualify for pension. Pension was set aside by the Department of Veterans Affairs for persons that are below or at poverty guidelines and use the paid medical expenses as a means to qualify for pension benefits. The elderly widows/veterans that are low income should check with their local Veteran Service Office with annual Social Security and IRS forms with paid medical receipts to complete the EVR.

In an attempt to eliminate the VA backlog on benefits the Department of Veterans Affairs announced they would no longer require beneficiaries to complete this form. Due to the technology of computer matching, the Department of Veterans Affairs has access to the computers at the IRS and Social Security Administration. This computer matching allows the VA to look at the yearly income of the beneficiaries of pension benefits. The Department of Veterans Affairs is going back to 2010 on these Eligibility Verification Reports so widows/veterans really need to get into their local Veteran Service Office (10984 FM 1442, Orange TX, 409-745-1535).

In a Department of Veterans Affairs press release, 12/20/2012, the VA spokesperson stated, "Historically, beneficiaries are required to complete the Eligibility Verification Report every year to ensure their pension benefits continued. Under this new initiative, VA will work with IRS and Social Security to verify continued eligibility for pension benefits."

There is a drawback with this computer matching because beneficiaries with income that are on the income cap and without medical expenses to lower their annual income, they will be in overpayment. This means the Department of Veterans Affairs can take Social Security money to repay the debt. For persons on fixed incomes this could be tragic. Therefore, anyone that draws a pension check based on their yearly income, contact your local Veteran Service Office and report the medical expenses. The Department of Veterans Affairs is accepting these reports and the local veteran service office will complete the report and mail it. For persons in overpayment, there are laws for waiving debt (cannot be guaranteed) and the local service office can use these rules to assist with overpayment.

Contact the Orange County Veteran Service Office at 10984 FM 1442 Box A, Orange, TX 77630 or call 409-745-1535.