QUESTION An applicant for assisted housing receives a pension from the VA. In addition to his pension he receives VA “aid and attendance” benefits. The veteran’s representative states that these payments are excluded federally but we cannot find an applicable reference in the HUD regulations. Are we supposed to include this income in the family’s annual income?
ANSWER HUD has issued written guidance on the treatment of aid and attendance funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs. There is also a pending regulatory change which has not yet been implemented.
The current guidance is found in the FAQs for the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program:
4. Should VA Aid and Attendance and VA Housebound allowances be counted as income?
VA Aid and Attendance and VA Housebound allowances may be excluded under 24 CFR § 5.609(c)(4), which excludes amounts received by a family “specifically for, or in reimbursement of, the cost of medical expenses for any family member.” Live-in or periodic medical assistance and services of doctors and health care professionals are among the services that can be counted as medical expenses. The PHA should verify with the VA the amount received by the Veteran for Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits. The portion of the total benefit amount that the Veteran uses for medical expenses must be excluded from income. Any portion of the allowance not going towards such expenses would continue to be counted as income by the PHA when computing the family’s share of the rent.
A new exclusion is awaiting implementation under the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA). Aid and attendance benefits will be excluded in their entirety when HOTMA is implemented, and this may be the basis of the applicant’s belief that the benefits are “federally excluded.” However, this and other HOTMA changes to income and rent determinations cannot be implemented until HUD has completed the formal rulemaking process. HUD has declined to estimate an effective date for the HOTMA changes. Here is an excerpt from a letter to executive directors dated September 26, 2016:
All of the other sections in HOTMA that impact the HCV and public housing programs require that HUD first issue a notice or regulation for the provision to become effective. Until HUD issues the applicable notices or regulations, your PHA may not implement those additional sections. This information will also be transmitted in the near future via a Federal Register notice.
We realize that many PHAs are eager to implement the flexibilities and other statutory changes provided under HOTMA, so please be assured that HUD is working diligently to develop and provide the necessary implementation guidance in a timely manner. If you have any questions, please send them to HOTMAquestions@hud.gov.
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