My sister C has taken it upon herself to contact a paralegal for assistance in filing an A&A claim. I have been reading and reading about VA policy and cannot find any reference to a statement my sister C is making. My 91 year old mother (father WWII) has about $160K in a bank account. She also has $18K left in her IRA and has been taking minimum distributions. My other sister J is listed as a joint owner on the bank account, but it the money belongs to my mother. Sister C insists that the VA will divide the bank account by 2 since it is a joint account that has been open a long time. She also said that if the bank account was added to the trust, then the entire amount would count as an asset. This is info she got from her paralegal. She is also paying this paralegal a fee of some unknown amount although I mentioned that the VA website states it is illegal to charge a fee for completing an application. I said if the VA considers half the money to belong to sister J, then can sister J withdraw this money? And if not, can my mother spend the other half when her half is gone? Sister C said I don’t understand how this is computed and I am just wrong. I have tried to find policy in the CFR’s and in the VA manual, but nothing on point. FYI, I spent my career as a claims technical expert in the SSI program at SSA, so I am very familiar with applying public assistance policy.
1. Does the VA divide a joint bank account by the number of joint owners automatically? Makes zero sense to me. Will they contact sister J to find out if she believes 1/2 of the money belongs to her? Is there a policy I can read?
2. Does the VA consider the $18K IRA to be like the bank account and count the remaining value as an asset, or do they count the distributions as income for the year? And is there policy I can read?
3. If a claim was filed by this paralegal, and mom is over the asset limit (all her money belongs to her), will this be a quick denial by the VA?
And yes, there is some tension between family members over this. And mom just had a heart attack, a stroke and afib. Had been living in her own home and we want to keep that as long as possible.