Have you helped a client become eligible for VA Pension benefits? If so, did you advise them that each year an annual review, EVR, is due on March 1st? So many veterans lose their benefits each year because they did not return the EVR or did not complete it correctly. In addition to losing benefits, they also have to pay back everything paid to them by the VA for the previous 12 months. Don’t let this happen to your clients!
What is an EVR? The Eligibility Verification Report is an annual report due no later than March 1st of each year for beneficiaries who are receiving the Improved Pension. Because eligibility for this program is based on disability status and financial criteria, the VA must ensure that the beneficiary remains eligible from year to year. The EVR provides a report of actual income and dependency status in order to verify that the payment the beneficiary is receiving is correct.
What are the required forms to complete and return to the VA? The VA will send the required forms to the beneficiary in late December or early January. One of the following forms should be completed, based on the type of beneficiary:
- 21-0510 EVR Instructions
- 21-0516-1 Improved Pension EVR (veteran without children)
- 21-0517-1 Improved Pension EVR (veteran with children)
- 21-0518-1 Improved Pension EVR (surviving spouse without children)
- 21-0519s-1 Improved Pension EVR (surviving spouse with children)
In addition to the aforementioned forms, the beneficiary must also complete a Medical Expense Report on VA Form 21P-8416 (NOTE: THIS FORM WAS UPDATED DECEMBER 2011). This form must be completed twice. The first one is to report actual medical expenses paid out of pocket by the beneficiary during the EVR reporting period. The second one is for the beneficiary to report the next 12 month’s projected medical expenses. This form must also be signed by the beneficiary or the fiduciary if one has been appointed.
Where are EVRs Processed? There are three Pension Management Centers (PMC), Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and St. Paul. Whichever PMC adjudicated the initial application for pension benefits will be the same PMC to process the EVR.
Is Anyone Exempt from Filing an EVR? Annual EVRs are not required for Improved Pension recipients who have no countable income, or whose only countable income is from VA or Social Security. However, filing an EVR may be helpful even in this situation if the beneficiary is not receiving the maximum VA pension due to the amount of medical expenses projected at the beginning of the year. If the medical expenses increased throughout the year, or if the beneficiary paid out of pocket for medical expenses that are not considered “recurring” (i.e. doctor co-pays, prescriptions, travel expenses, hearing aids, etc.), then these expenses can be reported on the EVR and the VA will recalculate what the monthly pension should have been.
If the pension amount for prior months should have been higher based on the medical expenses reported in the EVR, the VA will pay a lump sum payment to the beneficiary for the appropriate amount.
Termination of Benefits. If a person does not return the EVR, benefits will be terminated as of the beginning of the EVR reporting period. Because of that, the beneficiary will receive notice that the VA overpaid them and, thus, they will owe the money they received back to the VA. Clients are usually not able to return the money because it has been spent on their high cost of medical care. It is essential that the EVR is returned by March 1st, that it is completed accurately, and that it is signed by either the beneficiary of the benefits or by the fiduciary if one has been appointed (neither a 21-22a representative, a power of attorney agent, nor a guardian can sign the EVR).
For more information, refer to M21-1MR, Part V, Subpart iii, Chapter 7 and 38 CFR 3.277.
Victoria Collier is a nationally recognized expert in VA Benefits Planning and author of 47 Secret Veterans’ Benefits for Seniors…Benefits You Have Earned but Don’t Know About, available on Amazon.com. Victoria established The Elder & Disability Law Firm of Victoria L. Collier, PC in 2002 and has been appointed by Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue to the Georgia Council on Aging Advisory Board. Victoria is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, National Organization of Veteran Advocates, Co-Founder of Veteran Advocates Group of America, Co-Founder of Trust Associates Inc (a non-profit), and creator of “In the Trenches” veterans benefits conference. Victoria frequently speaks at national estate planning and elder care planning conferences and has appeared on radio and television as an authority on veterans benefits. Victoria is an ongoing contributor to the Academy blog. More information on her materials, books and training schedule can be found on her website www.elderlawgeorgia.com.
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