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M21-1, Part V, Subpart iii, Chapter 1, Section G – Pension – Deductible Expenses

Overview


In This Section

This section contains the following topics:

1.  Overview of Deductible Expenses


Introduction

This topic contains an overview of deductible expenses for income for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) purposes (IVAP) in current-law pension cases, including

Change Date

November 27, 2015

V.iii.1.G.1.a.  Two Types of Deductible Expenses

There are two types of deductible expenses:
  • those that are allowed as deductions from total countable income, and
  • those that are allowed only as deductions from specific income.
Reference:  For information about deductions from specific income, see M21-1, Part V, Subpart iii, 1.G.11.

V.iii.1.G.1.b.Reporting Deductible Expenses to Reduce Overpayment

There is no time limit for submitting a report of deductible expenses to reduce or eliminate an overpayment in a pension account.  However, the deductible expenses must have been paid during the same reporting period during which the overpayment was created.
It makes no difference whether the overpayment was created because of a change in income or a change in the maximum annual pension rate (MAPR).  If the overpayment was previously repaid or recouped, deductible expenses can be used to issue a retroactive payment if the retroactive amount does not exceed the amount repaid or recouped.  Otherwise, apply the time limits in 38 CFR 3.660(b) if the report of deductible expenses is submitted for the purpose of getting retroactive benefits.

V.iii.1.G.1.c.  Example 1:  Deductible Expenses

Example:
  • A Veteran was paid pension during the initial period June 16, 2011, through June 30, 2012, based on reported income for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) purposes (IVAP) of $0.
  • In 2013, an overpayment is created because the Veteran actually earned $9,000 during the initial period.
  • In 2015, the Veteran submits a report of medical expenses paid during the initial period.
Result:  Accept the report of medical expenses solely for the purpose of reducing the overpayment.  No retroactive benefits can be paid because the medical expense report was not submitted within 38 CFR 3.660(b) time limits.  (The time limit in this situation was December 31, 2013.)

V.iii.1.G.1.d.  Example 2:  Deductible Expenses

Example:
  • VA discontinued a Veteran’s pension award in 2010 and created an overpayment of $2,000.
  • VA later recoups $1,000 of the $2,000 pension overpayment when the Veteran started receiving compensation from which the overpayment was recovered.
  • During 2015, the Veteran reports payment of previously unreported 2009 medical expenses.  If accepted, these expenses would eliminate the $1,000 overpayment and generate a $500 retroactive payment.
Result:  Use the medical expenses to eliminate the overpayment and issue a $500 retroactive payment because the amount of the retroactive payment will be less than the amount previously recovered.

2.  UME Deductions


Introduction

This topic contains information on medical expense deductions, including

Change Date

March 21, 2019

V.iii.1.G.2.a.  Rules for Deductibility of UMEs

Unreimbursed medical expenses (UMEs) paid by a claimant (or by a claimant’s dependent(s) for VA purposes) may be used to reduce the claimant’s countable income.  A deduction under 38 CFR 3.272(g) for medical expenses is permitted ifall the conditions in the table below exist.
Condition
Description
Expenses actually
paid by a claimant
or dependent(s) for VA purposes
The claimant or claimant’s dependent(s) for VA purposes has actually paid the expenses. Unless medical expenses can be allowed prospectively, no deduction is allowed for expenses which are due, but not yet actually paid.
Expenses are unreimbursed
The claimant or claimant’s dependent(s) for VA purposes has not received, and will not receive, reimbursement for the medical expenses from insurance or any other source. In other words, deductible medical expenses must be paid out-of-pocket expenses.
Expenses for
claimant or relative
who is a member of household
The expenses were incurred on behalf of the claimant or a relative of the claimant (not necessarily a dependent for VA purposes) who is a member or constructive member of the claimant’s household.
Note:  “Constructive member” means that the expenses can be for a spouse in a nursing home, a child away at school, or a similar situation.
Paid on or after date
of pension
entitlement or date
of Veteran’s death
(if after date of
pension entitlement)
The expenses were paid on or after
  • the effective date of entitlement to pension, or
  • the date of the Veteran’s death, when the date of the Veteran’s death is later than the date of Survivors Pension entitlement.
Reference:  For more information on a Veteran’s last illness expenses paid by a surviving spouse before or after the Veteran’s death, see M21-1, Part V, Subpart i, 3.D.3.
Expenses exceed
five percent
deductible
The unreimbursed expenses must exceed 5 percent of the applicable MAPR. (This is also called the “5 percent deductible.”) When VA calculates the 5 percent deductible, it
  • adds additional amounts for dependents to the applicable MAPR, but
  • does not add additional amounts for aid and attendance (A&A) or housebound.
Reference:  For more information on the applicable MAPR, see the pension rate tables.

V.iii.1.G.2.b.  Example:  Rules for UME Deductibility

Example:
  • A married Veteran who is entitled to A&A claims payment of unreimbursed medical expenses of $3,000.
  • Effective December 1, 2014, the MAPR for a Veteran with one dependent is $16,851. The Veteran’s entitlement to A&A is disregarded.
Calculation:  The table below outlines the calculation for determining the deductible medical expenses.
Step
Calculation
Description
1
$16,851
x 0.05
$842
MAPR
Five percent
Five percent deductible (rounded down)
2
$3,000
– $842
$2,158
Gross medical expenses
Five percent deductible
Deductible medical expenses
Important:  It is rarely necessary to go through the process outlined in the example above. When gross medical expenses are entered in the medical expense field in the payment system, the system performs the necessary calculations.

V.iii.1.G.2.c.
List of
Common Allowable
Medical
Expenses

The list below shows some of the common allowable medical expenses.
Important:  This list is not all-inclusive.  Allow all expenses that are directly related to medical care.
Common Allowable Medical Expenses
  • adaptive equipment
  • care by a health care provider (Payments to a health care provider for services performed within the scope of the provider’s professional capacity are medical expenses.  Cosmetic procedures that a health care provider performs to improve a congenital or accidental deformity or related to treatment for a diagnosed medical condition are medical expenses)
  • health insurance premiums
  • institutional forms of care and in-home care
  • medications, medical supplies, medical equipment, and medical food, vitamins, and supplements
  • smoking cessation products
  • transportation expenses (payments for transportation for medical purposes)
Notes:  The deductible transportation expense for medical purposes is
  • 58 cents per mile from January 1, 2019
  • 54.5 cents per mile from January 1, 2018
  • 53.5 cents per mile from January 1, 2017
  • 54 cents per mile from January 1, 2016
  • 57.5 cents per mile from January 1, 2015
  • 41.5 cents per mile from January 1, 2009, through December 31, 2014
  • 28.5 cents per mile from January 1, 2008, through December 31, 2008,
    and
  • 20 cents per mile before January 1, 2008.
Reference:  For more information on medical expenses for VA purposes, see 38 CFR 3.278(c)(1) through (c)(7).

3.  Sources of Medical Expenses


Introduction

This topic contains information on the sources of medical expenses, including

Change Date

October 18, 2018

V.iii.1.G.3.a.  Definition: Nursing Home

For the purposes of the medical expense deduction, a nursing home means
  • any extended care facility which is licensed by a State to provide skilled or intermediate-level nursing care, or
  • a nursing home care unit in a State Veterans’ home which is approved for payment under 38 U.S.C. 1742.
Reference:  For more information on nursing homes, see

V.iii.1.G.3.b.
Definition:  MFH

medical foster home (MFH) means a privately owned residence, recognized and approved by VA, that offers a non-institutional alternative to nursing home care for veterans who are unable to live alone safely due to chronic or terminal illness.
For pension purposes, an MFH that VA has recognized and approved under the MFH Program is equivalent to a nursing home.
Reference:  For more information on the MFH Program, see

V.iii.1.G.3.c.  Definition:  Care Facility Other Than a Nursing Home

Care facility other than a nursing home means a facility in which a disabled individual receives health care or custodial care.  A facility must be licensed if facilities of that type are required to be licensed in the State or country in which the facility is located.  A facility that is residential must be staffed 24 hours per day with care providers.

  • The provider does not need to be a health care provider, and payments for assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) are medical expenses, if the disabled individual is receiving health care or custodial care in the facility and
    • the disabled individual needs A&A or is housebound, or
    • a physician, physician assistant, certified nurse practitioner, or clinical nurse specialist states in writing that, due to a physical, mental, developmental, or cognitive disorder, the individual needs to be in a protected environment.
  • Payments for health care provided by a health care provider are medical expenses
  • Payments for meals and lodging (and other facility expenses not directly related to health care or custodial care) are medical expenses if
    • the facility provides or contracts for health care or custodial care for the disabled individual; or
    • a physician, physician assistant, certified nurse practitioner, or clinical nurse specialist states in writing that the individual must reside in the facility (or a similar facility) to separately contract with a third-party provider to receive health care or custodial care or to receive (paid or unpaid) health care or custodial care from family or friends

Reference:  For more information on care facilities other than a nursing home see38 CFR 3.278(b) 6-7 and (d).


V.iii.1.G.3.d.  Definition:  Licensed Health Care Provider

For the purposes of the medical expense deduction, a licensed health care provider refers to a person licensed to furnish health services by the state or country in which the services are provided.  Licensed health care providers may include, but are not limited to
  • a physician
  • physician assistants (PAs)
  • psychologist
  • chiropractor
  • registered nurse
  • licensed vocational nurse
  • licensed practical nurse, and
  • physical or occupational therapist
Reference:  For more information on licensed health care providers see 38 CFR 3.278(b)(1) .

V.iii.1.G.3.e. Facility Type
and Medical Expenses

The medical expense deduction should be contingent on the sort of care the disabled individual is receiving in the facility and the necessity for the individual to be there, not the name of the facility.  However, if the facility type is unclear or the facility contains different housing options and it is unclear in which part the claimant or relative resides, call the facility to verify facility type.  Document the call on VA Form 27-0820Report of General Information or VA Form 27-0820b, Report of Nursing Home or Assisted Living Information, if more information is needed.
Note:  If unable to reach the facility, send the claimant a 30-day development letter requesting proof of facility type.

V.iii.1.G.3.f.  Custodial Care vs. Skilled Nursing Care

If a claimant claims room and board expenses in a facility other than a nursing home, or another facility that does not qualify as a nursing home or MFH, then custodial care must be reviewed.
Custodial care means regular
  • supervision because a person with a physical, mental, developmental, or cognitive disorder requires care or assistance on a regular basis to be protected from hazards or dangers incident to his or her daily environment, or
  • assistance with two or more ADLs.
Custodial care differs from skilled nursing care.  Skilled nursing care is the provision of services and supplies that can only be given by or under the supervision of a skilled or licensed health care provider.
Note:  Mental, developmental, or cognitive disorders encompass a wide range of mental health conditions that affect thinking and behavior.  Examples include schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.
Reference:  For more information on custodial care, see 38 CFR 3.278(b) .

V.iii.1.G.3.g. ADLs and IADLs

ADLs are basic self-care activities, consisting of
  • bathing or showering
  • dressing
  • eating
  • getting in or out of bed or a chair (transferring)
  • toileting, and
  • ambulating within the home or living area.
ADLs do not include IADLs.  IADLs are activities other than basic self-care that are needed for independent living.  Examples of IADLs include
  • shopping
  • food preparation
  • housekeeping
  • laundering
  • handling medication
  • managing finances
  • using the telephone, and
  • transportation for non-medical purposes.
Note:  Pull cords, 24-hour staffing, and locked exterior doors are not considered either ADLs or IADLs, although they may be indicative of a protected environment.

V.iii.1.G.3.h.  Eligibility for A&A and Housebound for Medical Expense Deduction Purposes

Certain medical expense deductions require distinguishing persons who are and who are not eligible to be rated for A&A or housebound.
For pension, the following persons
  • may be rated for A&A or housebound
    • Veterans, and
    • surviving spouses.
  • may not be rated for A&A or housebound
    • spouses of living Veterans
    • children, or
    • any other relative who is a member or constructive member of the Veteran’s or surviving spouse’s household.
Exception:  A living Veteran’s spouse may be rated for A&A (but not housebound)if the Veteran is dually entitled to compensation of at least 30 percent.
Note:  For Parents’ Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), parents may be rated for A&A, but not housebound.

V.iii.1.G.3.i.  A&A or Housebound   Effective Date     vs. IVAP

A decision regarding the IVAP amount is separate from a decision regarding the effective date from which the A&A or housebound rate is payable.
If a medical expense deduction requires a claimant (or spouse) to be in need of A&A or housebound, then VA may deduct the expense during the initial year or calendar year in which VA determined the claimant (or spouse) to be in need of A&A or housebound.
Note:  This block generally applies to claimants who are in a care facility or who are receiving in-home care.

V.iii.1.G.3.j.  Medical Expense Deduction for Nursing Home Fees

Allow a medical expense deduction for nursing home fees if a responsible official of the nursing home certifies that the claimant or relative is a patient (as opposed to a resident) of the nursing home.
Verify nursing home fees if/when one of the following situations exists:
  • nursing home fees are first claimed
  • the claimant or relative transfers to a new facility, or
  • the nursing home-related expenses increase substantially more than the cost-of-living increase compared to the expenses allowed during the prior reporting period.

Examples of verification include

Notes:
  • Do not request verification of nursing home expenses if written verification of substantially the same nursing home expenses (from the same nursing home) is already of record.
  • If a documented call on VA Form 27-0820b is used to verify expenses, the decision notice to the claimant must make reference to the call.
References:  For more information on

V.iii.1.G.3.k.  Medical Expense Deduction forCare Facility other than Nursing Home

Payments for health care provided by a health care provider are medical expenses for all pension beneficiaries to include those receiving special monthly pension or those that need to be in a protected environment.
Payments for assistance with ADLs and IADLs are medical expenses, regardless if the provider is a health care provider, if the disabled individual is receiving health care or custodial care in a facility and either
  • the disabled individual is determined by rating to require A&A or housebound
  • a physician, physician assistant, certified nurse practitioner, or
  • clinical nurse specialist states in writing that, due to a physical, mental, developmental, or cognitive disorder, the individual needs to be in a protected environment.
Payments for meals and lodging (and other facility expenses not directly related to health care or custodial care) are medical expenses if
  • the facility provides or contracts for health care or custodial care for the disabled individual; or
  • a physician, physician assistant, certified nurse practitioner, or clinical nurse specialist states in writing that the individual must reside in the facility (or a similar facility) to separately contract with a third-party provider to receive health care or custodial care or to receive (paid or unpaid) health care or custodial care from family or friends.
The claims processor must review VA Form 27-0820b, to confirm claimed medical expenses.
Exception:  Provider proof verification is not required if VA Form 21-0779, is of record and was received within one year of the date of claim.
Notes:
  • Payments to hospitals, nursing homes, medical foster homes, and inpatient treatment centers (including inpatient treatment centers for drug or alcohol addiction), including the cost of meals and lodging charged by such facilities, are medical expenses.
  • Verification from other care facilities is not required unless the adjudicator finds reason to question a claim based on care facilities.
  • If it is established that a claimant or relative in a governmental institution is participating in a program of therapy or rehabilitation supervised by a physician, or a physician, physician assistant, certified nurse practitioner, or clinical nurse specialist states in writing that the claimant or relative has a medical condition that makes such a level of care necessary, allow the entire amount paid as a deductible expense.
  • A physician, physician assistant, certified nurse practitioner, or clinical nurse specialist’s statement specifically addressing the issue of whether an individual who is not entitled to A&A or housebound needs to be in a protected environment must be of record, even if the individual’s diagnosis is known.
References:  For more information on

V.iii.1.G.3.l.  Example:  Custodial Care for a Dependent

Example:  A child of a Veteran is placed in a State school for those with special needs.  VA has rated the child as incapable of self-support.  The child participates in a program of therapy supervised by a physician.  The Veteran reports that the child’s Social Security goes to the state to pay for the child’s care.  In addition, the Veteran pays the State $200 per month.
Result:  Do not allow a medical expense deduction for the Social Security payments because this money is not paid from the Veteran’s funds.  The child’s Social Security would not be counted as income of the Veteran.  Allow a medical expense deduction for the $200 per month the Veteran pays to the State out of the Veteran’s own funds, because there is evidence that a physician has stated the child needs the level of care that the State school provides.
Reference:  For more information on deducting medical expenses, see M21-1, Part V, Subpart iii, 1.G.2.a.

V.iii.1.G.3.m.  In-Home Attendants for a Disabled Person

Payments for assistance with ADLs and IADLs by an in-home attendant are medical expenses as long as the attendant provides the disabled individual with health care or custodial care.  Payments must be commensurate with the number of hours that the provider attends to the disabled person.  The attendant must be a licensed health care provider unless
  • the disabled individual is determined by rating to require A&A or housebound, or
  • a physician, physician assistant, certified nurse practitioner, or clinical nurse specialist states in writing that, due to a physical, mental, developmental, or cognitive disorder, the individual requires the health care or custodial care that the in-home attendant provides.
Notes:
  • Examples of medical and nursing services are physical therapy, administration of injections, placement of indwelling catheters, and the changing of sterile dressings.
  • Examples of custodial care include assisting a person with ADLs and may include assisting a person with IADLs alone when the person has a physical, mental, developmental, or cognitive disorder.
All reasonable fees paid to the attendant for personal care of the disabled person and maintenance of the disabled person’s immediate environment may be allowed.  This includes such services as cooking for the disabled person, housecleaning for the disabled person, and other IADLs.
It is not necessary to distinguish between medical and non-medical services. However, services that are beyond the scope of personal care of the disabled person and maintenance of the disabled person’s immediate environment, may not be allowed.
Example:  A Veteran is rated in need of A&A by VA.  The Veteran pays an attendant to administer medication and provide for the Veteran’s personal needs.  The attendant also cooks the Veteran’s meals and cleans house.
Allow the entire amount paid to the attendant as a deductible medical expense.  It makes no difference whether the attendant is a licensed health care provider.
References:  For more information on

V.iii.1.G.3.n. Documentation of In-Home Attendant Fees

If the fees for an in-home attendant are an allowable expense, receipts or other documentation of this expense are required.  Documentation includes
  • a receipt bill
  • statement on the provider’s letterhead
  • computer summary
  • an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form W-2
  • ledger, or
  • bank statement.
The evidence submitted must include the
  • amount paid
  • date payment was made
  • purpose of the payment (the nature of the product or service provided)
  • name of the person to or for whom the product or service was provided, and
  • identification of the provider to whom payment was made.

V.iii.1.G.3.o.  No Annual Verification of In-Home Attendant Fees Required

Annual verification of in-home attendant fees is not required.  The claimant is required to submit documentation of expenses
  • when in-home attendant fees are first claimed, or
  • when the person/company providing the service changes.

V.iii.1.G.3.p.  Medical Insurance Premiums

Premiums paid by the claimant or/spouse for health, medical, long-term care, or hospitalization insurance are allowable medical expenses.
Example:  Social Security Medicare premiums
Premiums paid for life insurance or burial insurance are not allowable medical expense deductions.
Note:  Some hospitalization policies pay the beneficiary on admission to a hospital even if the beneficiary incurs no out-of-pocket expense, for example, beneficiary is admitted to a charity hospital.  Premiums paid for such a policy are deductible medical expenses.  Amounts received by a beneficiary from such a policy are countable income if they are not paid to cover the costs of the hospitalization.
References:  For more information on

V.iii.1.G.3.q. Medicare Premiums

Premiums for Medicare Parts A, B, and D and for long-term care insurance are medical expenses
Allow a deduction for Medicare Part B premiums as a continuing medical expensewithout a specific claim from the claimant, if information obtained from a Share SSA inquiry or submitted by the claimant indicates that the claimant pays the premium.
This is an exception to the general rule that all deductible expenses must be specifically claimed.
Important:
  • A claimant may be paying Medicare premiums even if he/she is not eligible for Social Security monetary benefits.
  • Use care when interpreting information obtained from a Share SSA inquiry.  Do not allow a deduction for Medicare Part B premiums, if theSSA BASIC INFO screen shows
    • “Pd by State” in the SMI OPTION CODE field, and
    • a date in the SMI START DATE field.
Reference:  For more information on using Share, see the Share User Guide.

V.iii.1.G.3.r. Nonprescription Drugs, Medical Supplies, Vitamins, Food Supplements, and Herbal Remedies

If a health care provider authorized to write prescriptions directs a claimant or relative to purchase nonprescription drugs, medical supplies, vitamins, food supplements, and/or herbal remedies, the cost of such items is an allowable medical expense deduction.
Develop to the claimant for proof that a health care provider, authorized to write  prescriptions, instructed the claimant or relative to purchase nonprescription drugs, medical supplies, vitamins, food supplements, and/or herbal remedies if the amount claimed is over $1,500 per household member per calendar year.
If the claimant does not respond to the request, allow a medical expense deduction up to $1,500 (per household member per calendar year) for nonprescription drugs, medical supplies, vitamins, food supplements and/or herbal remedies.
Example:  A Veteran reports calendar year 2015 nonprescription drugs and medical supply expenses of $2,000 for herself, $800 for her spouse, and $400 for her son.
Result:
  • Develop for evidence that a health care provider authorized to write prescriptions instructed the Veteran to purchase nonprescription drugs and medical supplies for herself only.  (The reported expenses for the spouse and son are $1,500 or less.)
  • If the Veteran does not respond to the request for evidence, allow $1,500 and deny the claim for the remaining $500.
Notes:
  • Medical supplies include such items as incontinence supplies, bandages, thermometers, heating pads, back braces, compression stockings, and first aid kits.
  • Once a health professional has verified the need for a particular item, do not require the claimant/beneficiary to furnish a statement regarding this item again.
Reference:  For more information on medical expenses for VA purposes see 38 CFR 3.278(c).

V.iii.1.G.3.s. Adaptive Equipment

Payments for adaptive devices or service animals, including veterinary care, used to assist a person with an ongoing disability are medical expenses.
Do not allow a medical expense deduction for equipment that would normally be used by a nondisabled person, such as an air conditioner or automatic transmission.
Note:  Medical expenses do not include non-prescription food, boarding, grooming, or other routine expenses of owning an animal.
Reference:  For more information about medical expenses for VA purposes see 38 CFR 3.278(c).

4.  Processing UME Deductions


Introduction

This topic contains information on processing UME deductions, including

Change Date

October 26, 2018

V.iii.1.G.4.a.  General Rule on Allowing Medical Expenses

An award should not be adjusted to allow recurring or nonrecurring medical expenses without a statement from the claimant or the claimant’s fiduciary, if applicable, stating the
  • amount of UMEs the claimant has paid, or
  • estimated amount the claimant expects to pay.
Medical expense adjustments may be made on the basis of information submitted orally, by e-mail or fax, or by other electronic means under the provisions of 38 CFR 3.217.
Notes:
  • If a hard copy (including faxed) VA form is submitted, either the claimant must sign it him or herself or under the provision of 38 CFR 3.2130, concerning signature by mark or thumbprint), or the claimant’s fiduciary must sign it, if applicable.  If the signature is missing, then
    • return the form for signature or
    • telephone to receive the information orally as provided in 38 CFR 3.217(b).
  • A medical expense statement signed by a power of attorney is notacceptable unless that person is also the claimant’s VA-recognized fiduciary.
  • Do not adjust an award based solely on statements of nursing home officials unless the claimant is incompetent and the nursing home administrator is the fiduciary.
  • Ensure documentation of calculations made to determine the rate of benefits (such as calculations of medical expenses, net worth, and waived overpayments) are included in the electronic claims folder (eFolder).
Exception:  Medicare Part B premiums are an exception to the general rule that a statement is required.  VA does not require a claim or statement to deduct Medicare Part B premiums for pension purposes.
Reference:  For more information on including documentation of calculations in the eFolder, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 2.A.2.c.

V.iii.1.G.4.b.  Requirements for a Medical Expense Deduction Claim

A claim for a medical expense deduction that will result in increased benefit payments must be supported by a
Reference:  For more information on medical expense reporting, see M21-1, Part V, Subpart iii, 1.G. 4.a.

V.iii.1.G.4.c.  Information Required for Itemization of Expenses Related to Transportation for Medical Purposes on a VA Form 21P-8416

Use the table below to determine what the claimant must list for the itemization of expenses related to transportation for medical purposes on a VA Form 21P-8416.
Itemization of Related to Transportation For Medical Purposesblock names…
The claimant must list …
Medical Facility to Which You Traveled
the specific facility he/she traveled to for medical purposes.
Total Roundtrip Miles Traveled
personal conveyance only.
Amount Paid By You
the amount paid for transportation.
Examples:  Taxi, public transportation fares, tolls, parking fees, etc.
Date Paid
the year in which the expense was paid.
Exception:  If there is an overlapping calendar year period, the day, month and year must be shown for the initial month of entitlement, and the month and year must be shown for the other months in the overlapping period.
Example:  A claimant’s initial year is July 14, 2017, to August 1, 2018, and the claimant submits UMEs for calendar year (CY) 2018.  Allow the 2018 UMEs for the CY (subject to 38 CFR 3.31).  Inform the claimant that VA can allow medical expenses paid during the initial year if they are properly itemized and dated.
Reference:  For more information on initial year calculations, see M21-1, Part V, Subpart iii, 1.A.3.g.
For Whom Paid
self, spouse, child, etc.
Note:  If the claimant does not have dependents, this field may be blank.  (No change if the claimant has dependents.)

V.iii.1.G.4.dInformation Required for Itemization of Medical Expenses on a VA Form 21P-8416

Use the table below to determine what the claimant must list for the itemization of medical expenses on a VA Form 21P-8416.
Itemization of Medical Expensesblock names
The claimant must list …
Medical Expense (Physician or Hospital Charges, Eyeglasses, Oxygen Rental, Medical Insurance, etc.)
the specific purpose for which the payments were made.
Examples:  Doctor’s appointments, prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, mileage, and so forth.
Note:  If the claimant lists a healthcare provider, assume the purpose was an appointment.
Amount Paid By You
the actual out-of-pocket amount that the claimant paid and for which no reimbursement is expected.
Examples:  Taxi, public transportation fares, tolls, parking fees, etc.
Date Paid
the year in which the expense was paid.
Exception:  If there is an overlapping calendar year period, the day, month and year must be shown for the initial month of entitlement, and the month and year must be shown for the other months in the overlapping period.
Example:  A claimant’s initial year is July 14, 2017, to August 1, 2018, and the claimant submits UMEs for CY 2018.  Allow the 2018 UMEs for the CY (subject to 38 CFR 3.31).  Inform the claimant that VA can allow medical expenses paid during the initial year if they are properly itemized and dated.
Reference:  For more information on initial year calculations, see M21-1, Part V, Subpart iii, 1.A.3.g.
Name of Provider
the name of the provider to whom the claimant (or spouse) paid the expense.
Note:  This block may be blank if the claimant lists the provider in the Medical Expense block.
If prescriptions or over-the-counter drugs are shown in theMedical Expense block, the provider field does not need to list the specific provider(s).
It is acceptable for a claimant to list Part CPart D, orMedicare in this block instead of  specifying the name of an insurance company.
For Whom Paid
self, spouse, child, etc.
Note:  If the claimant does not have dependents, this field may be blank.  (No change if the claimant has dependents.)

V.iii.1.G.4.e.  Allowing Medical Expenses Prospectively

Normally, medical expenses are deducted from an award after the fact, based on the claimant’s report of expenses actually paid.
However, under 38 CFR 3.272(g), medical expenses may be allowed prospectively if the claimant is paying recurring nursing home fees or other reasonably predictable medical expenses.
Notes:
  • Do not select an arbitrary amount for a prospective medical expense deduction.  Accept the amount claimed (less any identified expenses that do not meet medical expense criteria or do not appear to be reasonably predictable), or disallow the claim for prospective medical expenses, and calculate benefits on actual expenses reported at the end of the reporting period.
  • Deduct an estimated actual amount of recurring medical expenses unless a claimant specifically requests zero prospective medical expenses.
Reference:  For more information on calculating an estimated actual amount of recurring medical expenses, see M21-1, Part V, Subpart iii, 1.G.4.d.

V.iii.1.G.4.f.  Example of Annual Amount vs. Calculated Estimated Actual Amount

A surviving spouse is a patient in a nursing home for long-term care because of disability from October 2015.  The survivor is paying $2,000 per month for nursing home expenses beginning in October and requests this recurring expense be deducted from her income prospectively.  Therefore, the
  • annual amount the surviving spouse expects to pay is $24,000 ($2,000 x 12 months), and
  • calculated estimated actual amount the surviving spouse will pay during calendar year 2015 is $6,000 ($2,000 for October, November, and December).

V.iii.1.G.4.g.  Dates for Allowing Medical Expenses Prospectively

When first allowing prospective continuing medical expenses, deduct the estimated actual amount from the beginning of the reporting period in which the expenses began.
Allow the annualized amount as a continuing medical expense from the beginning of the following calendar year subject to 38 CFR 3.31.

V.iii.1.G.4.h. Medical Expense Amount to Allow
Prospectively

When first allowing prospective continuing medical expenses, deduct the estimated amount that the claimant will pay during the initial year or calendar year in which the continuing medical expense is first allowed, increased to the annual amount on February 1 of the following year.

V.iii.1.G.4.i.  Award Action to Adjust After UMEs Allowed Prospectively

Use the table below to determine the award action after medical expenses have been allowed prospectively.
If prospective medical expenses were allowed from …
Then …
the payment date of an original or new award or from the beginning
of a reporting year
if necessary, adjust for the initial year based on the amount of actual medical expenses paid during the initial year.
a date after the end of the initial year
if necessary, adjust at the end of a calendar year based on the amount of actual medical expenses paid during that calendar year.
Notes:
  • Adjust over the duration of the initial year on the basis of actual expenses paid. At the end of the calendar year, determine actual medical expenses paid during the calendar year. During the period of overlap, allow the greater amount of medical expenses, subject to 38 CFR 3.31.
  • It is not necessary to adjust if the actual annual amount paid does not change the pension rate compared to the amount previously allowed.
Reference:  For information about the initial year, see M21-1, Part V, Subpart iii, 1,A.3.g.

V.iii.1.G.4.j.  Reconsidering a Disallowed Claim

In some situations
  • a claim that was disallowed for excessive income is reconsidered within the time limit to submit amended income information, and
  • the basis for reconsidering the claim is anticipated payment of prospective medical expenses.
In such situations, calculate IVAP based on income and expenses projected from the effective date of the award to the date that is 12 months from the first of the month after the effective date.
If the claimant started paying continuing medical expenses after the effective date of the award, or if there has been a change in the level of continuing medical expenses, adjust IVAP 12 months from the payment date of the award or from February of the next calendar year as appropriate.
Example:
  • A 65-year old Veteran claims pension on February 13, 2014, but pension is denied because recurring income exceeds MAPR.
  • In November 2014, the Veteran reports paying an in-home care provider $500 per month starting on October 14, 2014.  The in-home care fees are on behalf of the Veteran’s disabled spouse, and the Veteran submits a authorized health care provider’s statement that the provider fees are necessary.
Result:  Calculate IVAP (including calculated estimated actual in-home care fees) for the period February 13, 2014, through February 28, 2015.  If estimated medical expenses (spread over the period February 13, 2014, through February 28, 2015) reduce the Veteran’s IVAP below the applicable MAPR, pay pension from March 1, 2014.

V.iii.1.G.4.k.  Notice to Claimants for Prospective Medical Expenses

When recurring medical expenses are first allowed, send a notice
  • informing the claimant of the basis of the award, and
  • advising that failure to report a reduction in unreimbursed expenses or an increase in income will result in an overpayment.
When recurring medical expenses are disallowed, send a notice
  • informing the claimant of the basis of the disallowance, and
  • advising that VA will consider all reported actual medical expenses at the end of the reporting period if the claimant submits VA Form 21P-8416verifying that the expenses have been paid.

V.iii.1.G.4.l.  Adjusting an Award for a Reduction in Continuing Medical Expenses

If a beneficiary reports a reduction in the level of continuing medical expenses, adjust the award effective the beginning of the reporting period based on the actual medical expenses paid during that reporting period.
A beneficiary’s report that he/she is no longer a nursing home patient or a resident of another care facility may be accepted as a report that the beneficiary is no longer paying nursing home fees or custodial care fees and the award may be reduced with contemporaneous notice.

V.iii.1.G.4.m.  Nonrecurring Medical Expenses

Most medical expenses are allowed as a deduction after the claimant pays them.  All medical expenses other than those that are allowed prospectively are considered to be nonrecurring medical expenses.
Apply nonrecurring medical expenses against otherwise countable income for the reporting period (initial year or calendar year) during which the expenses were paid.
In an original or new award after a period of nonentitlement, apply medical expenses paid between the award effective date (or date of Veteran’s death in an original Survivors Pension claim filed within one year after the Veteran’s death) and the date that is 12 months after the award payment date against income for the initial year.
If the claimant also reports medical expenses for the first full calendar year after the commencement of the award, determine the total amount of medical expenses paid
  • during the initial year, and
  • during the following calendar year.
Allow the greater amount of medical expenses during the period of overlap, subject to 38 CFR 3.31.
Reference:  For information about the initial year, see M21-1, Part V, Subpart iii,1.A.3.g.

V.iii.1.G.4.n.  Example 1: Nonrecurring Medical Expenses

Example:  In May 2015, a Veteran who has been in receipt of pension for more than a year reports nonrecurring medical expenses paid between January 1, 2015, and May 15, 2015.
The Veteran requests an immediate recalculation of IVAP.  Although the preferred procedure is to defer the medical expense adjustment until the end of 2015, the Veteran has the right to an immediate recalculation.
Result:  Adjust the award from January 1, 2015, subject to 38 CFR 3.31, to allow medical expenses paid between January 1, 2015, and May 15, 2015.  Remove the medical expenses from the award January 1, 2016.
At the end of 2015, adjust the award based on total medical expenses paid during 2015 (including the previously-reported medical expenses).  The adjustment is effective January 1, 2015, subject to 38 CFR 3.31.

V.iii.1.G.4.o.  Example 2: Nonrecurring Medical Expenses

Example:
  • A Veteran is rated with a permanent and total (P&T) disability effective October 28, 2013.  The Veteran is paid pension from November 1, 2013.
  • During November 2014, the Veteran reports paying medical expenses of $1,000 between October 28, 2013, and November 1, 2014.
Result:  Adjust the award from November 1, 2013, to allow a gross medical expense deduction of $1,000 from October 28, 2013, through October 31, 2014.
Note:  The adjustment to allow the medical expense is made from November 1, 2013, because 38 CFR 3.31 has already been applied, in that the effective date of entitlement is October 28, 2013.

V.iii.1.G.4.p.  Example 3: Nonrecurring Medical Expenses

Example:  In May 2015, a Veteran who has been in receipt of pension for more than a year submits a VA Form 21P-8416 showing medical expenses paid between November 2014 and May 2015.
Result:  Adjust the award from January 1, 2014, subject to 38 CFR 3.31, to allow those medical expenses paid during calendar year 2014.  Recalculate IVAP as of January 1, 2015, based on the
  • expected income for 2015, and
  • medical expenses paid between January 1, 2015, and the date the VA Form 21P-8416 was signed.
Include a January 1, 2016, future award line to remove the medical expenses.

V.iii.1.G.4.q.  Overlapping Initial Year and Calendar Year Periods

Overlapping periods occur when the initial year overlaps the first calendar year.
If an overlapping period is involved
  • calculate medical expenses for each reporting period separately, and
  • allow the greater amount of medical expenses during the overlap, subject to 38 CFR 3.31.
Apply this same procedure where overlapping medical expense counting periods result from processing an original or new award.
Example:  A surviving spouse’s initial year is July 15, 2014, through July 31, 2015.
Result:  Compare the medical expenses for the following two periods:
  • July 15, 2014, through July 31, 2015, and
  • calendar year 2015.
For the overlapping period (January 1, 2015, through July 31, 2015) pay based on the higher period of medical expenses.

V.iii.1.G.4.r.  Effect of COLA or Change in Dependency Status on Pension Rate

If a MAPR increase occurs during a period when medical expenses are being allowed, IVAP will usually change on the date of the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) even if there is no change in the claimant’s income.
This happens because there is now a new MAPR from which to calculate the five percent deductible.  The same thing occurs when a dependent is added or removed.
Example:  The five percent deductible for a single Veteran on August 1, 2014, is $632, whereas on December 1, 2014, it changes to $643 due to the COLA.  This change causes IVAP to increase.

V.iii.1.G.4.s.  Reimbursed Medical Expenses

Do not allow a deduction for any medical expenses for which the claimant expects to be reimbursed.
If a medical expense deduction is allowed and the claimant later receives reimbursement for that expense, recalculate IVAP for the applicable reporting period based on actual expenses paid.

V.iii.1.G.4.t.  Renouncement of Claimed Medical Expenses

In some situations, a beneficiary may wish to receive a lower rate of pension to establish eligibility for benefits from another agency.
The table below outlines the guidelines to apply in such situations.
Criteria
Guideline
Not required to claim all medical expenses
A beneficiary
  • is not required to claim a deduction for UMEs, and
  • may claim a deduction for some, but not all, UMEs.
Partial renouncement prohibited
Once a beneficiary has reported payment of medical expenses and VA has reduced the beneficiary’s IVAP based on the medical expenses, it is too late to recalculate IVAP because the beneficiary no longer wishes to claim the medical expenses. This would constitute a partial renouncement of benefits, which is precluded by 38 CFR 3.106.
Recalculation of medical expenses claim permitted
If a prospective deduction was allowed for recurring medical expenses, a beneficiary might always request that recurring medical expenses no longer be allowed.
Consider this a recalculation of projected medical expenses. Adjust the award effective the beginning of the reporting period based on the actual medical expenses paid during that reporting period and remove the recurring medical expenses for the following calendar year.
Note:  The additional pension or Parent’s DIC that VA pays to a beneficiary because he/she incurred UMEs is not countable as VA income for SSA purposes. For more information on how to report VA income for SSA requests see M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 3.B.7

5.  Verifying Medical Expenses


Introduction

This topic contains information on verifying medical expenses, including

Change Date

April 13, 2018

V.iii.1.G.5.a.  When Provider Proof Is Required

Provider proof of claimed medical expenses is required when the claims processor has reason to question the medical expenses claimed on VA Form 21P-8416, or equivalent.

Use VA Form 27-0820b, to confirm claimed medical expenses.

Note:  Verification from other care facilities is not required unless the adjudicator finds reason to question a claim based on care facilities.

Exception:  Provider proof verification is not required if VA Form 21-0779, is of record and was received within one year of the date of claim.


V.iii.1.G.5.b. What Constitutes Acceptable Provider Proof

Provider proof can be in the form of a receipted bill, statement on the provider’s letterhead, computer summary, or other document from the provider showing all the following information:
  • the amount paid
  • the date payment was made
  • the purpose of the payment (the nature of the product or service provided)
  • the name of the person to or for whom the product or service was provided, and
  • identification of the provider to whom payment was made.
Exception:  When the provider is a nursing home, accept as provider proof a statement on VA Form 27-0820b that
  • documents contact with the nursing home administrator or other provider, and
  • shows the amount of unreimbursed expenses paid by the claimant.

V.iii.1.G.5.c.  Determining Whether Provider Proof Is Required

Request provider proof only when you have a reason to question the medical expenses claimed.
Notes:
  • Only request proof for expense(s) in question.  Proof is not required for all expenses reported.
  • Do not request proof of expenses that were claimed over 24 months before the date of review if VA already deducted the expense(s).
  • Do not request provider proof of expenses if VA Form 21-0779 was received within one year of the date of claim.
Reference:  For more information on provider proof verification see M21-1, Part V, Subpart iii, 1.G.5.a.

V.iii.1.G.5.d.  Obtaining Proof of Expenses

Follow the steps in the table below to obtain proof of medical expenses.
Step
Action
1
  • Print or copy the VA Form 21P-8416 with the questionable expenses.
  • Highlight the medical expense(s) in question.
2
  • Send the highlighted copy to the claimant with a development letter explaining that a special review of claimed medical expenses is being conducted, and
  • advise the claimant
    • which specific medical expense(s) are in question
    • that receipts and/or other documentation of all highlighted medical expenses are required for the period reported on theVA Form 21P-8416
    • that documents submitted to VA become a part of the permanent record and that photocopies should be submitted if the original documents are needed for insurance, tax, or other purposes
    • that he/she must furnish the requested evidence within
      • 30 days if the expense(s) was not already used as a deduction for calculating IVAP, or
      • 60 days if the expense(s) was already used as a deduction for calculating IVAP, and
    • if the expense was already used,
      • VA will remove the expense in question if the requested evidence is not received within the 60 days, and
      • the proposed pension rates if the expense is excluded from the IVAP due to lack of proof of payment of expense.
 Notes:
  • If sending highlighted copies of medical expense claim forms would be unduly confusing to the claimant, send a letter describing the documents needed as provider proof.
  • It is also permissible to contact a provider, such as a nursing home, directly to confirm payment of medical expenses.  If you confirm payment directly with the provider, place a VA Form 27-0820b or VA Form 27-0820 in the claims folder.
3
 Maintain a control for
  • 30 days under end product (EP) 150 if expenses were not already used as a deduction, or
  • 60 days under EP 600 if expenses were used as a deduction.
4
 Follow the procedures in the table below.
If the claimant…
Then…
submits acceptable documentation of all highlighted medical expenses within the 30 or 60-day period
  • process the EP 150, allowing all claimed medical expenses, or
  • clear EP 600 and advise the claimant that benefits will not be reduced.
is unable or unwilling to provide proof of medical expenses or does not respond
go to Step 5.
requests more time to submit the requested evidence
consider extending the control, depending on the reasons given, and go to
  • Step 3 if the request for more time is granted, and
  • Step 5 if the request for more time is denied.
5
If the claimant does not respond or does not provide adequate evidence of payment within the time limit provided and the expenses
  • were previously deducted, make the adjustment effective as of the beginning of the appropriate initial year or calendar year, or
  • were not previously deducted, deny the medical expenses that have not been adequately documented and process the claim.
Important:  Do not remove any expenses that were adequately documented or for which provider proof was not required.

V.iii.1.G.5.e.  Beneficiaries Affected by Natural Disasters

Victims of natural disasters may have lost or misplaced many of their possessions, including personal documents and records.  Such a situation could make it especially difficult to obtain provider proof of their reported medical expenses.
Natural disasters include, but are not limited to
  • hurricanes
  • tornados
  • floods
  • wildfires, and
  • earthquakes.
Note:  If residence in an area affected by a natural disaster is established, VA may concede a claimant’s loss of records to verify his/her reported medical expenses.

V.iii.1.G.5.f.  Verifying Expenses for Beneficiaries Affected by Natural Disasters

Follow the steps in the table below to verify reported expense(s) for an alleged victim of a natural disaster.
Step
Action
1
Determine whether the claimant lived in an area affected by a natural disaster. If necessary, ask him/her to furnish
  • a mailing address within the affected area
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) claim documents
  • U. S. Post Office listing of zip codes affected by mail suspension
  • insurance claims documents
  • landlord or leasing office statements, or
  • other evidence of exposure to the natural disaster.
2
Did the claimant live in an area affected by a natural disaster?
3
Review the medical expenses reported by the claimant. If the medical expense(s) is in question, request an explanation of the purpose of the claimed medical expense(s) and frequency of use to justify the excessive amount claimed.
Note:  Follow the procedures outlined in Steps 4 and 5 of M21-1, Part V, Subpart iii, 1.G.5.d.
Note:  Consider reasonable expenses on a case-by-case basis.  Generally, these would be claimed expenses that are consistent with the nature of the claimant’s or relative’s identified disabilities, age, and amounts reported in previous years.

V.iii.1.G.5.g.  Incidental Medical Expenses

Do not request provider proof for mileage and incidental medical expenses unless the amount claimed or the number of items claimed appears questionable.
Incidental medical expenses are relatively low cost expenses for which the claimant would not normally be expected to have documentation such as parking fees or cab fares.  Whether a particular expense is an incidental medical expense is a judgment call by the claims processor.  Do not routinely request verification of incidental medical expenses when sending out VA Form 21P-8416.

V.iii.1.G.5.h.  Proof Not Required for Medicare Part B Premium

Do not require provider proof from SSA for the Medicare Part B premium.  Insert a copy of a Share Social Security print in the eFolder each time an award is processed to allow an unreimbursed medical expense deduction for Medicare reasons.

V.iii.1.G.5.i.Acceptability of Photocopies

Photocopies of receipted bills, canceled checks, or other documents are acceptable provider proof as long as they are legible and appear regular.
If there is any question as to the validity of a photocopy, request the original document.

V.iii.1.G.5.j.  Provider Proof Maintained in the eFolder

Maintain provider proof of claimed medical expenses in the eFolder.
When requesting provider proof, advise the claimant that photocopies should be submitted if the original documents are needed for insurance, tax, or other purposes.
Use the following table to handle documents submitted as proof by the claimant.
If …
Then …
the photocopies that are submitted
  • appear to have been altered
  • are illegible, or
  • are otherwise unacceptable
  • request that the original documents be submitted, and
  • advise the claimant that the originals will be returned.
unsolicited original documents are submitted and the claimant specifically requests that they be returned
  • make photocopies, and
  • return the originals to the claimant.

6.  Final Expense Deductions – Overview and Definitions


Introduction

This topic contains information on final expense deductions, including

Change Date

September 29, 2016

V.iii.1.G.6.a.  General Information on Final Expenses

Under 38 CFR 3.272(h)(1) and 38 CFR 3.272(h)(2)(i), deductible final expenses include amounts paid by a
  • surviving spouse or child for the unreimbursed expenses of a Veteran’s last illness and burial as well as the Veteran’s just debts
  • Veteran for the unreimbursed expenses of a spouse’s or child’s last illness and burial, but not amounts paid for the spouse’s or child’s just debts, and
  • Veteran’s spouse or surviving spouse for the unreimbursed expenses of the Veteran’s child’s last illness and burial, but not amounts paid for the child’s just debts.

V.iii.1.G.6.b.  Definition: Last Illness

For the purposes of the final expense deduction, the term last illness means the period from the onset of the acute attack causing death to the date of death.  Generally, expenses incurred more than one year prior to date of death should not be considered expenses of last illness.
If death resulted from a lingering or prolonged illness instead of an acute attack, the period of last illness is considered to have begun at the time the person became so ill as to require the regular and daily attendance of another person.

V.iii.1.G.6.c.  Burial Expenses

Burial expenses include all normal expenses incident to disposition of the remains of deceased persons.
If an expense is allowable for purposes of paying VA burial benefits under 38 CFR 3.1700, consider it a burial expense for purposes of the final expense deduction.  However, do not deduct any expense for which the claimant will be reimbursed (including VA reimbursement for burial benefits).
Example:  A surviving spouse claims $3,000 in burial expenses.  VA paid $600 toward the burial and plot and $400 in transportation costs, for a total of $1,000.  Therefore, only $2,000 of the claimed burial expenses is deductible for pension purposes.

V.iii.1.G.6.d.
Just Debts of
the Veteran

Under 38 CFR 3.272(h)(1)(ii), deduct just debts only when the debts are those of a Veteran and they are paid by a surviving spouse or child claimant.
Payments of unsecured debts incurred solely by the Veteran and debts incurred jointly by the Veteran and surviving spouse, for other than the purchase of real or personal property, are deductible as just debts.
Payments of secured debts incurred jointly by the Veteran and surviving spouse for the purchase of real or personal property are not deductible as just debts.  This includes payments on home and car loans.
Notes:
  • Just debts of the Veteran paid during the Veteran’s lifetime cannot be deducted as a final expense.
  • If a deceased Veteran’s medical expenses are not deductible as final expenses, consider the possibility of deducting the expenses as just debts of the Veteran.

V.iii.1.G.6.e.Example 1:  Just Debts

Example:  A surviving spouse claims a deduction for payment of just debts of the Veteran.  Development reveals that the spouse has been making payments on a car note.  The Veteran and surviving spouse were joint obligors on the note.
Result:  Payments on the car note are not deductible as just debts of the Veteran because the debt was jointly incurred by the survivor and the Veteran for the purchase of real or personal property (the car).

V.iii.1.G.6.f.  Example 2:  Just Debts

Example:  A surviving spouse claims a deduction for payment of just debts of the Veteran.  The surviving spouse reports having paid for a vacation taken prior to the Veteran’s death.  The Veteran and surviving spouse were joint obligors on the debt.
Result:  Since the obligation was not incurred for the purchase of real or personal property, amounts paid by the surviving spouse to liquidate the debt are deductible.

V.iii.1.G.6.g.  Final Expenses Paid by Surviving Spouse Prior to Date of Pension Entitlement

Expenses of last illness and burial expenses, for example, prepaid burial, paid before the date of pension entitlement, can be considered final expenses if paid by a surviving spouse.  There is currently no time limit for allowing such expenses.
Expenses of a Veteran’s last illness that were allowed as a medical expense deduction on the Veteran’s pension or Parents’ DIC account during the Veteran’s lifetime cannot later be deducted as a final expense on the surviving spouse’s pension award.
Note:  If a surviving spouse is denied benefits multiple times, and later becomes entitled to pension, the final expenses may then be used to reduce countable income for the surviving spouse’s initial year of entitlement.

7.  Processing Final Expense Deductions


Introduction

This topic contains information on processing final expense deductions, including

Change Date

March 4, 2016

V.iii.1.G.7.a. Period to Deduct Final Expenses

General rule:
Final expenses are deducted during the calendar year (or initial year) during which they are paid.
Exceptions:
The table below shows the exceptions to the general rule for deducting final expenses.
If the expenses are paid …
Then deduct the expenses …
during the calendar year following the year of death
for whichever of the following periods is advantageous:
  • the calendar year during which they are paid
  • the initial year, if the initial year begins during the calendar year of death, or
  • any 12-month period that begins during the calendar year of death.
by a surviving spouse for last illness or burial expenses of a deceased Veteran
  • before the date of the Veteran’s death, or
  • after the date of the Veteran’s death, but before pension entitlement begins
for the initial year of entitlement.
Note:  The delayed payment provision of 38 CFR 3.31 applies to the payment date if the expense deduction results in an increased pension rate for one month compared to the previous month.

V.iii.1.G.7.b.  Example 1:  General Rule for Deducting Final Expenses

Example:
  • A Veteran died on April 19, 2014.  At the time of death, the Veteran was not receiving VA benefits.
  • VA receives the surviving spouse’s Survivor’s pension claim on May 2, 2014.
  • The surviving spouse’s only income is a $2,000 retroactive private pension payment received April 29, 2014.
  • The surviving spouse pays $1,000 in burial expenses (not reimbursed by a VA burial benefit) on December 14, 2014.
Result:  Since the final expenses were paid during the calendar year of death, and the initial year begins during that calendar year, deduct the final expenses for the surviving spouse’s initial year of entitlement.
The table below shows how income and expenses are counted and deducted on the award.
Date
Income Counted
Expenses Deducted
IVAP
05-01-2014
2000
1000
1000
05-01-2015
0
0
0

V.iii.1.G.7.c.  Example 2:  General Rule for Deducting Final Expenses

Example:
  • A Veteran receives Improved Pension based on IVAP of $750 per month from a private pension.
  • On January 24, 2015, the Veteran pays $3,000 in expenses from the last illness of his spouse, who died on December 29, 2013.
Result:  Since the final expenses were paid after the calendar year following the year of death, deduct them for the calendar year during which they were paid, January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2015.
Note:  Because deducting the expenses will result in an increased rate for January compared to December, the award will reflect the deduction on February 1 per 38 CFR 3.31.
The table below shows how income and expenses are counted and deducted on the award.
Date
Income Counted
Expenses Deducted
IVAP
12-01-2014
9000
0
9000
02-01-2015
9000
3000
6000
01-01-2016
9000
0
9000

V.iii.1.G.7.d.  Example 3:  Final Expenses Paid During the Calendar Year Following the Year of Death

Example:
  • The Veteran died on April 19, 2013.  At the time of death, the Veteran was not receiving VA benefits.
  • VA receives the surviving spouse’s Survivors pension claim on May 2, 2013.
  • The surviving spouse has no income until August 7, 2013 when $2,000 retroactive private pension is received.
  • On September 19, 2013, the surviving spouse receives another $1,000 retroactive private pension payment.
  • On March 24, 2014, the surviving spouse pays $2,000 in burial expenses.
  • On October 14, 2014, the surviving spouse pays expenses of the Veteran’s last illness of $800.
Result:  Since the final expenses were paid during the calendar year (2014) following the calendar year of the Veteran’s death (2013), VA can deduct them for the initial year or for any 12-month period that is most advantageous to the claimant, provided it begins within the calendar year of death (2013).
In this case, that means VA can deduct the $2,000 for the period September 1, 2013, through August 30, 2014, and deduct the $800 for the period October 1, 2013, through September 30, 2014.
The table below shows how income and expenses are counted and deducted on the award.
Date
Income Counted
Expenses Deducted
IVAP
05-01-2013
0
0
0
09-01-2013
2000
2000
0
10-01-2013
3000
2800
200
09-01-2014
1000
800
200
10-01-2014
0
0
0

V.iii.1.G.7.e.  Example 4:  Final Expenses Paid by the Surviving Spouse Before the Veteran’s Death

Example:
  • The Veteran’s spouse pays $2,000 in expenses of the Veteran’s last illness and prepaid burial in January through March of 2014.
  • The Veteran dies on April 19, 2014.  At the time of death, the Veteran is not receiving VA benefits.
  • On October 14, 2014, the surviving spouse’s death pension claim is received.  VA determines the surviving spouse is entitled to A&A.
  • The surviving spouse’s only income is $7,000 Social Security per year until January 23, 2015, when a $2,000 one-time private pension payment is received.
Result:  Since the expenses were paid by the Veteran’s spouse before the Veteran died, VA can deduct them for the initial year, April 19, 2014, through April 30, 2015.
The table below shows how income and expenses are counted and deducted on the award.
Date
Income Counted
Expenses Deducted
IVAP
05-01-2014
7000
2000
5000
02-01-2015
9000
2000
7000
05-01-2015
9000
0
9000
02-01-2016
7000
0
7000

V.iii.1.G.7.f.  Example 5:  Final Expenses Paid by the Surviving Spouse After the Veteran’s Death but Before the Date of Pension Entitlement

Example:
  • The Veteran died on September 23, 2013.
  • On October 14, 2013, the Veteran’s surviving spouse pays $3,000 of the Veteran’s burial expenses.
  • On November 14, 2014, VA receives the surviving spouse’s claim for Survivors Pension.
  • The surviving spouse’s only income is Social Security of $7,500 per year.
Result:  Since the expenses were paid after the date of death but before the date of Survivors Pension entitlement, VA can deduct them for the initial year, November 14, 2014, through November 30, 2015.
The table below shows how income and expenses are counted and deducted on the award.
Date
Income Counted
Expenses Deducted
IVAP
12-01-2014
7500
3000
4500
12-01-2015
7500
0
7500

V.iii.1.G.7.g.  Example 6:  Final Expenses Paid by the Surviving Spouse Before the Veteran’s Death and During the Calendar Year Following the Year of Death

Example:
  • On June 30, 2013, the Veteran’s spouse pays $2,000 toward the expenses of the Veteran’s last illness.
  • The Veteran dies on July 12, 2013.  At the time of death, the Veteran is not receiving VA benefits.
  • On July 25, 2013, VA receives the surviving spouse’s claim for Survivors Pension.
  • The surviving spouse’s only income is Social Security of $6,000 per year until October 2013, when a $4,000 retroactive pension payment is received.
  • On February 3, 2014, the surviving spouse pays $4,000 in burial expenses.
  • On September 3, 2014, the surviving spouse pays an additional $3,000 in burial expenses.
Result:  The table below shows how income and expenses may be counted and deducted on the award and the reason for the award action or adjustment.
Date
Income Counted
Expenses Deducted
IVAP
Reason
08-01-2013
6000
5000
1000
  • Entitlement begins on July 1, 2013.
  • Deduct the $2,000 last illness expenses paid before death plus the $3,000 burial expenses paid in the calendar year after the year of death for the initial year.
11-01-2013
10000
9000
1000
  • One-time income of $4,000 is received in October 2013.
  • Deduct the $4,000 burial expenses paid in the calendar year after the year of death for the 12-month period beginning November 1, 2013.
08-01-2014
10000
4000
6000
Remove the $5,000 deduction of final expenses allowed for the initial year.
11-01-2014
6000
0
6000
  • Remove the $4,000 one-time income.
  • Remove the $4,000 deduction of final expenses paid in 2014.
Note: There may be several ways to count final expenses paid during the calendar year following the year of death. Per M21-1, Part V, Subpart iii, 1.G.7.a, use the method that is most advantageous to the claimant.

V.iii.1.G.7.h.  Final Expenses Paid From Joint Accounts

A question may arise as to whether final expenses were paid by the deceased person or the claimant.
If the evidence establishes that payment was made from the claimant’s separate funds or from a joint account with the claimant and another person, consider the expenses to have been paid by the claimant.  However, do not allow any expenses as final expenses if they have already formed the basis of a medical expense deduction on the Veteran’s record.
Example:
  • A Veteran died on October 14, 2013.
  • VA receives the surviving spouse’s pension claim on November 3, 2013.
  • The surviving spouse submits evidence that the Veteran’s burial expenses were paid in advance by regular payments made over a period of time, extending from January 2011 through May 2013.
  • The payments in question were made from a joint checking account owned by the Veteran and the surviving spouse.
Result:  The entire amount paid may be deducted from the surviving spouse’s IVAP for the initial year period.
Reference:  For more information on the initial year period, see M21-1, Part V, Subpart iii, 1.E.7.

V.iii.1.G.7.i.  Reimbursed Final Expenses

If a final expense deduction is allowed, and the beneficiary subsequently receives reimbursement for some or all expenses, recalculate IVAP for the period over which the deduction was allowed to remove those expenses for which reimbursement was received.

8.  Educational Expense Deductions


Introduction

This topic contains information on educational expense deductions, including

Change Date

March 4, 2016

V.iii.1.G.8.a.  General Information on Education Expense Deductions

Allow a deduction for the unreimbursed expenses for a Veteran or surviving spouse pursuing a course of education or vocational rehabilitation, per 38 CFR 3.272(i).
Deductible expenses include amounts paid for
  • tuition
  • fees
  • books, and
  • necessary materials.
Note:  There is no requirement that the course of education or vocational rehabilitation be approved for VA educational benefits.

V.iii.1.G.8.b.  Transportation Expenses

Allow unusual transportation expenses only if the Veteran or surviving spouse is rated in need of A&A.
If the Veteran or surviving spouse is rated in need of A&A, allow transportation expenses that
  • are related to school attendance, and
  • exceed the reasonable amounts that would be incurred by a nondisabled person.
Note:  The entire expense is deductible, not just the portion that exceeds the amount incurred by a non-disabled person.

V.iii.1.G.8.c.  Period of Deduction

Deduct educational expenses for the initial year or calendar year during which they were paid.
When the initial year overlaps the first calendar year, deduct the higher amount of educational expenses during the overlapping period.
Enter educational expenses in the EDUCATION EXPENSE field on the financial screen.

9.  Child’s Income Deductions


Introduction

This topic contains information on a child’s income deductions, including

Change Date

November 27, 2015

V.iii.1.G.9.a.  Deduction From Child’s Earned Income

Under 38 CFR 3.272(j)(1), a child’s earned income is countable only to the extent that it exceeds an amount equal to the lowest amount of gross income for which a single person must file a Federal income tax return.
This amount is adjusted each year by the IRS based on changes in the Consumer Price Index.  The current amount of the exclusion can be found in the pension rate tables.
This deduction applies regardless of whether the child is the person entitled or a dependent on a Veteran’s or surviving spouse’s award.

V.iii.1.G.9.b.  Deducting a Child’s Income

Enter the gross income of a child in the WAGES ANNUAL field on the FINANCIAL screen.  The system automatically calculates the deduction and arrives at the child’s countable earnings.

V.iii.1.G.9.c.  Child’s Postsecondary Education Expenses

A child’s postsecondary education expense deduction applies only when a child has earned income in excess of the amount deducted under 38 CFR 3.272(j)(1).  The educational expense deduction may not exceed the net amount of the child’s earnings after the child’s earned income deduction.
The postsecondary educational expense deduction applies
  • only to postsecondary (beyond the high school level) educational or vocational training programs, and
  • regardless of whether the child is the person entitled or a dependent on a Veteran’s or surviving spouse’s award.
Note:  Do not deduct amounts paid from scholarships and grants since scholarships and grants are not countable income for pension purposes unless they exceed education expenses.
Reference:  For more information on income exclusions, see M21-1, Part V, Subpart iii, 1.I.3.

V.iii.1.G.9.d.  Deducting a Child’s Postsecondary Education Expenses

Deduct expenses for tuition, fees, books and necessary materials.
Enter amounts to be deducted under this provision in the CHILD’S EDUCATION EXPENSE EXCLUSION field on the FINANCIAL screen.

10.  Hardship Deductions From a Child’s Income


Introduction

This topic contains information on hardship deductions from a child’s income, including

Change Date

April 13, 2018

V.iii.1.G.10.a.  General Information on Hardship Deductions From a Child’s Income

Under 38 CFR 3.23(d)(4), a Veteran’s annual income includes the income of each child of the Veteran to the extent that the child’s income is available to or for the Veteran unless, in the judgment of VA, it would work a hardship on the Veteran to count the child’s income.
38 CFR 3.272(m) provides for a specific hardship deduction from child income.  The hardship deduction applies only to Veteran and surviving spouse claimants.  It does not apply to surviving children claiming pension in their own right.
Note:  38 CFR 3.23(d)(5) contains similar language with respect to surviving spouse claimants.

V.iii.1.G.10.b.Considering Hardship Deductions From a Child’s Income

Do not consider hardship deductions from children’s income without first determining that the child’s income
  • is available to the Veteran or surviving spouse, and
  • cannot be excluded under the
Consider the hardship deduction only if a child still has countable income after
  • applying the 38 CFR 3.272(j) deductions, and
  • excluding any child income that is not available to the Veteran or surviving spouse.
References:  For more information on deductions

V.iii.1.G.10.c.Elements of the Hardship Determination

Hardship exists if annual expenses necessary for reasonable family maintenance exceed the sum of countable annual income, plus pension entitlement.
To make a hardship determination compare the sums of
  • annual expenses necessary for reasonable family maintenance, and
  • IVAP plus pension entitlement before applying the hardship exclusion.
Reference:  For a definition of hardship for the purposes of the hardship exclusion for a child’s income, see 38 CFR 3.23(d)(6).

V.iii.1.G.10.d.  Reasonable Family Maintenance Expenses

Annual expenses necessary for reasonable family maintenance include expenses for basic necessities, such as food, clothing, shelter, and other expenses, determined on a case-by-case basis, which are necessary to support a reasonable quality of life.
Exclude expenditures for items that are not necessary to support a pensioner’s reasonable quality of life, such as luxuries, gambling, and investments.  In addition, exclude expenditures used to calculate the claimant’s IVAP.
Whether a particular expenditure is necessary to support a pensioner’s reasonable quality of life is a judgment call for the claims processor.
Reference:  For more information on excluding expenditures used to calculate IVAP, see M21-1, Part V, Subpart iii, 1.G.10.f.

V.iii.1.G.10.e.  How Hardship Must Be Claimed

The claimant must allege that it would be a hardship to count a child’s income before hardship is placed in issue.  Although the claimant does not have to use the word “hardship,” development should be initiated only if there is a clear indication that hardship is being claimed.
Note:  Annual pension entitlement (which is added to IVAP to make a child hardship determination) does not necessarily equal 12 times the claimant’s monthly rate because monthly payments are rounded down to even dollar amounts under38 CFR 3.29(b).

V.iii.1.G.10.f.  Medical and Educational Expenses as Family Expenses

Under 38 CFR 3.272(m), annual expenses necessary for reasonable family maintenance (family expenses) may not include any expenses which were considered in determining the Veteran or surviving spouse’s IVAP.
This means that medical or educational expenses that were deducted from gross income in arriving at IVAP cannot be considered family expenses for purposes of the hardship exclusion.  The same expenses cannot be deducted twice.
However, medical or educational expenses that could not be deducted from gross income in arriving at IVAP may be included in the calculation of expenses necessary for reasonable family maintenance.

V.iii.1.G.10.g.  Medical Expenses for the Hardship Exclusion

Normally, the only medical expenses which qualify as family expenses are those which cannot be deducted under 38 CFR 3.272(g) because they are below 5 percent of the applicable MAPR.
If the claimant’s total medical expenses are
  • above the 5-percent threshold, then only the amount below the threshold can be added to family expenses for hardship exclusion purposes, or
  • below the 5-percent threshold, then all the medical expenses can be family expenses.

V.iii.1.G.10.h.  Example:  Medical Expenses for the Hardship Exclusion

Example:  A Veteran with a running award reports total family income.  The Veteran’s only established dependent is a child.  The child has Social Security income of $9,000 and the Veteran has income of $2,000.  The Veteran reports unreimbursed medical expenses of $400.  The Veteran claims that it would cause a hardship to count the child’s income.  The Veteran reports family expenses of $18,496.  The $18,496 includes the $400 in medical expenses.
Result:  Treat the $400 as a family expense since the 5-percent medical expense threshold for a Veteran with one dependent is $842 effective December 1, 2014.  By treating the $400 as a family expense, family IVAP can be reduced.
Calculation:  The table below outlines the calculation for determining the IVAP after applying the hardship exclusion.
Step
Calculation
Description
1
$2,000
+$9,000
$11,000
Veteran’s income
Child’s Income
IVAP before applying hardship exclusion
2
$11,000
+$5,851
$16,851
IVAP before applying hardship exclusion
VA pension
IVAP plus pension entitlement
3
$18,496
-$16,851
$1,645
Family expenses
IVAP plus pension entitlement
Hardship exclusion
4
$9,000
-$1,645
$7,355
Child’s income
Hardship exclusion
Child’s income minus the hardship exclusion
5
$2,000
+$7,355
$9,355
Veteran’s income
Child’s income minus the hardship exclusion
IVAP after applying hardship exclusion

V.iii.1.G.10.i.Educational Expenses

A child’s postsecondary educational expenses may be deductible from earnedincome under 38 CFR 3.272(j)(2).
However, in many instances, a child’s educational expenses will not qualify for exclusion under 38 CFR 3.272(j)(2) because
  • they do not relate to postsecondary education, or
  • the child who incurred the expenses did not have earned income.
Any educational expenses which are deductible under 38 CFR 3.272(j)(2) should be deducted under that provision.  If educational expenses cannot be deducted under 38 CFR 3.272(j)(2), consider them as family expenses.

V.iii.1.G.10.j.Example:  Educational Expenses

Example:  The Veteran has two children, Rob and Sarah.  Rob is a college student with tuition and book expenses of $1,200 per year.  Rob has no income.  Sarah has no school expenses but earns $12,000 per year; therefore, Sarah has countable income effective December 1, 2014, even after applying the child’s earned income exclusion in 38 CFR 3.272(j)(1).  Rob has educational expenses that are potentially deductible under 38 CFR 3.272(j)(2), but he has no income.
Result:  Rob’s educational expenses cannot be offset against Sarah’s income.  However, Rob’s educational expenses can be treated as family expenses if Sarah’s income is available to the Veteran and the Veteran claims that it would cause a hardship to count it.

V.iii.1.G.10.k.  Making Initial Hardship Determinations

Use the table below when making initial hardship determinations.
If …
Then …
the sum of IVAP plus pension entitlement equals or exceeds claimed family expenses
do not permit a hardship deduction because hardship does not exist.
the claimed family expenses exceed the sum of IVAP plus pension entitlement
  • develop for a breakdown of claimed expenses (if not already of record), and
  • determine if the claimed expenses are necessary for reasonable family maintenance.
An itemization of family expenses is always required for an initial hardship determination.
If all claimed family expenses are necessary for reasonable family maintenance, VA will deduct the amount by which the claimed expenses exceed the sum of countable annual income plus pension entitlement.
  • the claimed expenses exceed the sum of IVAP plus pension entitlement, and
  • it is decided that some expenses are not necessary for reasonable family maintenance
determine if the expenses that are necessary for reasonable family maintenance are adequate to offset all children’s income.
No further development is necessary if this criterion is met.
  • the claimed expenses exceed the sum of IVAP and pension entitlement
  • it is determined that some expenses are not necessary for reasonable family maintenance, and
  • the disallowed expenses are needed to offset all of children’s income
prepare an administrative decision for approval by a senior claims processor. The issue is whether or not the expenses reported by the claimant are necessary for reasonable family maintenance.
Ensure that the decision indicates which claimed expenses are not necessary for reasonable family maintenance and the reason why. In the discussion portion of the administrative decision, cite the definition of expenses necessary for reasonable family maintenance in 38 CFR 3.23(d)(6).

V.iii.1.G.10.l.Award Entries When No Apportionment Is Involved

When the level of expenses necessary for reasonable family maintenance has been determined, enter the total allowed expenses in the HARDSHIP EXCLUSION field on the FINANCIAL screen.
The system calculates the amount of the hardship deduction and reduces countable child income by that amount.

V.iii.1.G.10.m.  Apportioned Cases When IVAP Does Not Exceed MAPR

If there is an apportionment and IVAP (without consideration of the hardship exclusion) does not exceed the “dependency this award” MAPR
  • adjust the entry in the HARDSHIP EXCLUSION field on the FINANCIAL screen so that the system can calculate the correct child hardship deduction.  Adjust the entry by
    • subtracting the “dependency this award” MAPR from the “total dependency” MAPR
    • subtracting the difference from total allowed family expenses, and
    • entering the result in the HARDSHIP EXCLUSION field on the FINANCIAL screen, and
  • send a locally generated letter.

V.iii.1.G.10.n.Example:  Apportioned Cases When IVAP Does Not Exceed MAPR

Example:  A Veteran has a spouse and two children.  One child is out-of-custody and is receiving an apportionment.  IVAP (without consideration of the hardship deduction) does not exceed the “dependency this award” MAPR.
The claims processor determines that total allowed family expenses are $16,000.  The “total dependency” MAPR for a Veteran with three dependents effective December 1, 2014, is $21,247.  The “dependency this award” MAPR for a Veteran with two dependents effective December 1, 2014, is $19,049.
Calculation:  The table below outlines the calculation for determining the hardship expenses.
Step
Calculation
Description
1
$21,247
-$19,049
$2,198
“Total dependency” MAPR (three dependents)
“Dependency this award” MAPR (two dependents)
Difference
2
$16,000
-$2,198
$13,802
Family expenses
Difference from Step 1 above
Hardship expenses
Result:  Enter $13,802 in the HARDSHIP EXCLUSION field on the FINANCIAL screen. The system then calculates the correct child hardship deduction.

V.iii.1.G.10.o.   Apportioned Cases When IVAP Exceeds MAPR

If there is an apportionment and IVAP (without consideration of the hardship exclusion) exceeds the “dependency this award” MAPR, enter the total allowed family expenses in the HARDSHIP EXCLUSION field on the FINANCIAL screen.
There is no need to adjust the HARDSHIP EXCLUSION entry if IVAP exceeds the “dependency this award” MAPR.

V.iii.1.G.10.p.Effective Dates for the Hardship Exclusion

Apply 38 CFR 3.660(b) and 38 CFR 3.31 to determine the effective date of an increased rate of pension based on a change in child income by
  • recalculating IVAP for the calendar year or initial year, and
  • making the adjustment effective the beginning of that calendar year or initial year.
Example:  A Veteran’s only dependent is a child.  The Veteran’s current reporting period is January 1, 2014, through December 31, 2014.  On November 11, 2014, a claim for the hardship exclusion is received from the Veteran.  Development reveals that the Veteran is entitled to have $1,000 excluded from the child’s income.  No other adjustments are required based on a review of the claims folder.
During January 2014, the Veteran received pension of $976 per month based on IVAP of $5,136.  After applying the hardship exclusion, IVAP for the period January 1, 2014, through December 31, 2014, goes down to $4,136.
Result:  Continue the $976 per month rate for January and award $1059 per month effective February 1, 2014, per 38 CFR 3.31.

V.iii.1.G.10.q.  Adjusting for Changes in the Level of Family Expenses

If a claimant reports an increase in family expenses that will result in an increase in the amount of the hardship exclusion, determine if additional development is necessary to justify the increase in family expenses.  Once an initial hardship exclusion has been allowed, the amount of the exclusion may be increased without a new itemization of expenses as long as the reported increase in family expenses appears reasonable.
If it is determined that no additional development is required or if development establishes that the increase is warranted, make the adjustment effective the beginning of the next calendar year reporting period, subject to 38 CFR 3.31.
Use the table below to determine how to make the adjustment for changes in the level of family expenses.
If the report shows …
Then …
a change in family expenses (up or
down) which will not affect the amount
of the hardship exclusion
update the HARDSHIP EXCLUSION field on the FINANCIAL screen.
an expected reduction in family
expenses which will cause a reduction
in the amount of the hardship exclusion
for the next year
make the adjustment effective the beginning of the next calendar year.

V.iii.1.G.10.r.  Example:  Adjusting for Changes in the Level of Family Expenses

Example:  Family maintenance expenses of $16,000 are established for a Veteran.  In April 2015, a Veteran reports additional expenses expected for 2016.
The increased expenses, if allowed, would result in an increased child hardship deduction.  A claims processor reviews the file and determines if the level of claimed family expenses appears reasonable without further development.
Result:  Adjust the award effective January 1, 2016, (or February 1, 2016, due to38 CFR 3.31) to allow the higher exclusion.

V.iii.1.G.10.s.  Verifying Family Expenses

Do not attempt to verify family expenses that have already been allowed.
However, if a claimant reports a change in family expenses for a retroactive period and the change will affect the rate of pension payable, adjust the award, subject to38 CFR 3.31 and 38 CFR 3.660(b)(1), effective the later of the two following dates:
  • the beginning of the reporting period during which the change occurred, or
  • the date the hardship exclusion was first allowed on the award.

V.iii.1.G.10.t.  MAPR Changes and the Hardship Exclusion

When there is an increase in the MAPR, for example, as the result of a COLA, the sum of the IVAP plus pension entitlement also increases.  This means that the amount of the child hardship exclusion should decrease, assuming no change in the level of family expenses.
If this causes a reduction in the rate of VA pension, adjust the award effective the first of the month after the date of the COLA/MAPR increase.

11.  Specific Deductions for Gross Business Income and P&T Disability or Death Expenses


Introduction

This topic contains information on specific deductions for gross business income and P&T disability or death expenses, including

Change Date

November 27, 2015

V.iii.1.G.11.a.  Gross Business Income Deductions

If a claimant has income from rentals or operation of a business, determine countable income by deducting reasonable operating expenses from gross income, per 38 CFR 3.271(c).
Enter the net profit from rentals or operation of a business in the BUSINESS ANNUAL field on the FINANCIAL screen.
Specific Deductions:
  • Amounts expended on supplies that are consumed in the course of the business are deductible.
  • If rental or business property is mortgaged, payments of interest on the mortgage are deductible from business or rental income; however, payments of principal are not deductible.
Specific Items Not Deductible:
  • Do not offset a loss sustained in operation of a business enterprise against income derived from other sources.
  • Depreciation is not a deductible expense.
  • The cost of purchase of a capital asset, such as a piece of durable equipment, is not a deductible expense.  The theory is that the capital asset will retain its value except to the extent it is diminished through depreciation and depreciation is not deductible.

V.iii.1.G.11.b.  P&T Disability/Death Expense Deductions

If a claimant is awarded benefits based on P&T) disability or death, expenses incurred in securing the award are deductible directly from the award, such as attorneys’ fees and medical bills.
Specific Deductions:
  • Awards from SSA, Office of Workers’ Compensation, Department of Labor, and the Railroad Retirement Board are subject to this deduction as are awards pursuant to any workers’ compensation or employers’ liability statute.
  • This deduction also applies to private lawsuits and settlements.  The amount received is countable income but the claimant can deduct an attorney’s fees, medical expenses, and other expenses related to the recovery.
Rationale:  The underlying theory is that the claimant should be charged income only for the amount of the award that is over and above amounts that had to be expended in securing the award.

V.iii.1.G.11.c.  Application of P&T Disability/Death Expense Deductions

This deduction is applied only once when the disability or death benefits are initially awarded.  After this one-time (nonrecurring) deduction, any ongoing medical expenses are deductible only as medical expense deductions, per 38 CFR 3.272(g).
The same amounts of medical or legal expenses that are deducted from P&T disability or death income, per 38 CFR 3.272(g), cannot also be deducted as medical expenses.  Medical expenses paid after the effective date of a disability award should be deducted as medical expenses.
Medical or legal expenses paid prior to the pension effective date can be deducted from an award per 38 CFR 3.271(g), provided the expenses are directly related to the incident or the recovery of an award or settlement.

V.iii.1.G.11.d.  Developing for P&T Disability/Death Expense Deductions

Use VA Form 21P-8416b, Report of Medical, Legal, and Other Expenses Incident to Recovery for Injury or Death, to develop for unreimbursed amounts the claimant has actually paid in connection with a disability/death award.
Do not deduct any amounts that the claimant has not actually been paid.

V.iii.1.G.11.e.  Financial Screen Entries for P&T Disability/Death Expense Deductions

Enter the following information on the FINANCIAL screen:
  • the gross amount of the award in the disability/death claim award annual field, and
  • deductible expenses incurred in connection with an award in the disability/death claim expense exclusion field.
Note:  The amount deducted cannot exceed the amount of the award.  The system calculates net countable income.
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