If you have read our website, you already know that one of the statutory requirements to prove entitlement to the Non-Service Connected Pension (aka "aid and attendance,") is proving "limited net worth." Essentially your net worth is the sum total of your net income (gross income less deductible medical expenses) and any asset you own that can be liquidated for your use without without incurring a "substantial loss." Your home, personal furnishings and automobile are considered exempt (non-countable) assets. When it comes to "how much is too much?, the VA admits they will be making a completely subjective decision based on your individual circumstances. This subjective decision is based on whether or not in the VA's sole opinion your estate (net worth) is currently sufficient for your maintenance. In short, should you spend your money before receiving VA money.
Now, other that the regulatory requirement for "limited net worth," the actual interpretation of what "limited net worth" actually means is not in actual statute or regulation. The VA is allowed to create internal policies that interpret regulations. In this case, these policies are contained in the VA's Adjudication Procedures Manual, M21-1MR. When this manual clarifies regulation, it has the force of "dispositive law." This means that although the policy is not actually "law" per se, the VA is going to always use the policy to resolve any questions about how a certain regulation applies. So, it might as well be law because the VA is going to use the policy exactly like law!
In the Administrative Procedures Manual, Part, V, Subpart iii, Chapter 1, Section J, the VA has collected all of its relevant policies pertaining to the evaluation of net worth in a Pension case. The VA says they will take four things into consideration when making their decision: (i) the total amount of the estate; (ii) how many people have to be supported on the funds; (iii) how rapidly the estate is being depleted; and (iv) the life expectancy of the claimant ( Topic 72 of Section J actually contains a handy-dandy actuarial table!) However, there is no formula or bright line. A bright line is a "safe amount."
The relevant topic is Section J states that if you have over $80,000 you have to proceed through an administrative procedure to justify the assets but THAT ANY AMOUNT UNDER $80,000 CAN BE A BAR TO BENEFITS! Further, the adjudicator (the person working the claim at the VA) is instructed that the older a claimant is, the less estate (net worth) they are expected to possess. In our experience a typical claimant is well-advised to seek expert advice about net worth before applying since the VA tends to look unfavorably on net worth greater than $35-40,000. Although we are absolutely against the practice of hiding assets to create artificial eligibility for Pension, we can help evaluate your position and advise how the VA is probably going to react.
Remember, the VA is making a totally subject decision with no formulas or guidelines other than what we mentioned above!