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 CRITICAL INFO re: VA Aid & Attendance benefits 
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Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2007 8:38 pm
Posts: 712
Location: CA
Post CRITICAL INFO re: VA Aid & Attendance benefits
If you have applied or plan to apply for VA pension or compensation benefits (incl. Aid & Attendance pay), be sure to submit the paperwork at the same time to have yourself appointed as your LOs fiduciary (the one who gets the check).

I learned the hard way that the very diagnosis that qualifies our LOs for A&A benefits -- dementia -- also means the VA will propose to designate your LO as incompetent. That then qualifies them for the benefit. However, once you get the VA letter telling you they propose that finding, they will take no action to get the pension rolling until after a 60-day due process period during which you and your LO can contest the finding of incompetency -- which of course you are not going to do becasue your LO is incompetent and that's what qualifies you for the benefit. Circular enough for you?

So, as soon as you get the VA letter saying they are considering an incompetency finding, IMMEDIATELY send or fax them a letter FROM YOUR LO stating that they waive the 60-day due process period and do not contest the incompetency finding. The LO must sign this letter, even if it just an X or scrawl or whatever they can manage to mark on the letter.

This allows the VA to continue processing the A&A payment immediately.

HOWEVER, since your LO is now incompetent (i.e. incapable of managing their own financial affairs), someone has to be appointed by the VA to be the fiduciary who gets the check on behalf of the veteran. So you need let them know on a proper form that you want to be named the fiduciary. In order for the VA to name you -- and POA does not have any bearing on this even if you have it -- they will have to come and do an in-person interview of you and eyeball your LO. It can take up to a month or more, depending on where you live, to get the VA guardianship department to send a fiduciary interviewer out to you.

By sending the 60-day waiver on the proposed incompetency finding, and by getting yout fiduciary application right away when you apply for the benefits, you can cut an additional 90-day wait period before receiving your first payment.

Also, if your LO is under hospice care while their pension application is still being processed, let VA know right away. Send verification of hospice status and ask to have claim expedited immediately on a hardship basis.

If you get the run-around, call your local US Congressman's or Senator's office and ask to speak with their constituent services rep who handles VA issues. They can cut through much time-consuming red tape, even though they cannot influence the final outcome or pension finding.

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Renata (and Jerome-in-Heaven)


Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:19 am
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Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2008 10:30 pm
Posts: 976
Location: Henderson, Nv.
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Renata- You certainly did your homework! The VA messed around with us..in my last letter to them I stated that I think they kept requesting more paperwork hoping he would die before they approved pension benefits...that in fact is what happened. We got nothing! Nothing but a run around and requesting more paperwork. Asking I and family members fill out statements and then telling us they didn't count as we were not doctors...and on and on. They should have put him in the catastrophic illness category but didn't. When I hear about the backlog of paperwork at the VA I laugh...its because for every paper we filed they requested 6 more things...and then more and more. They have created their own paperwork demise. lts their way of legally getting around not paying benefits. If it were not so sad it would be laughable. I even wrote Shinseki and the President. We did get the health care benefits after that but no pension or A&A.

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Dianne C.


Tue Oct 20, 2009 3:19 am
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Joined: Sat Oct 06, 2007 4:28 pm
Posts: 756
Location: LA
Post Aid and assistance/ another option
My experience has been different and, who knows, it may come back to bite me someday but I wanted "in home" care aid and assistance rather than medical help. It has been quite a journey getting everything in place and at this time, things are looking good. I had completely dismissed VA for any help because of the paper work and changing doctors keeping records of every penny spent, etc. I just did not think I could add that to my work load.

One day there appeared from my Home Health a new male nurse. He came for the evaluation which must be done periodically. After observing everything here, he announced, "Mrs. P. you need help!". Then he asked if he could send a Social Worker. She came and suggested sending a rep. from Hospice as one possibility and also someone from Veteran's Add On Care. ...Okay...

The nice Hospice lady was ready to move in quickly but we could not agree on several things such as hospital bed {Mr B. loves his big bed]. They wanted to train him for diapers. [Its true, his aim in his little bathroom is rather wide and the spray soaks the exrta towels I have around the commode but who cares?]. He still walks to his bathroom and back under his own power. At this time only three or four times has he soaked his bedding. I would have been required to change his doctors, something I am not ready to do just yet. I asked the nice lady to please keep Mr P. on file for the future.

The nice little man from Vereran's Add In came and explained he could fill out the paper work, I could sign for Mr P. and he could send a rep from an agency who would get me help for the hours I decided up to the amount of the VA award, which in our case is 83 hours per month. I can make my own schedule. I have chosen Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:30 to 2:30. Tuesday and Thursday 10:30 until 3:30. Veteran's Add In have begun the agency's pay and they will be repaid when the wheels of finance finally turn over the award. The checks from VA will be deposited in my bank account and the Agency will do an automatic withdrawal, just like other businesses such as insurances and electric bill. However, I did open a separate account just for the VA award. I was then assigned to a lady, Nancy, who is fast becoming my phone BFF, She is completing all the paperwork Renata and Dianne were talking about. Nancy is in an office somewhere up north and this is what she does all the time, acting liasson for veteran's [[and spouses]. I am able to keep everything I have already in place... my doctors, my local Home Health agency. And if I should need to place Mr B. under Hospice or a nursing home, the award would follow him.

Having said all that, the first "help" the agency sent me was a disappointment and after a month, the stress was too great... Immediately the agency replaced her with someone who is perfect. This lady thinks like I do, Mr B. has totally accepted her and while she is still new and sort of shadowing me at this time, the promise is for everything I could have asked for and more. She is a self starter and so pleasant to have in my home. I feel so cared for... How many years has it been since someone watched out for ME? She is here to devote her every waking second to caring for us. Soon I will be able to make doctor's appointments for myself. Heck, I could walk around the block if I decide to. I can already go outside with my little puppy dog.

Along these same lines, for you who are caring for your mothers. If your father is/was a veteran, your mother can apply for aid and assistance. The award will be only half the amount of the veteran but that would still give you much needed relief.

DrP


Tue Oct 20, 2009 4:37 am
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Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2008 10:30 pm
Posts: 976
Location: Henderson, Nv.
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Dorthea- how fortunate to have someone help you fill out the mountains of paperwork. That was a true blessing. What truly galls me about the whole VA is this: my husband had a catastrophic disease...he should have qualified under those terms yet we were constantly denied. We only got medical benefits if we signed a paper stating we would not seek compensation. Also, we only "qualified" for two hours a day three days a week for in home help. Nobody knew...due to what I deem negligence...that he had terminal cancer in addition to LBD and Parkinsons. Had they known that we could have qualified for many more benefits...but the VA doctors and the private physicians never found the cancer...it was found by a staff physician at a rehab hospital he was sent to because none of the others could find anything wrong with him other than the LBD and Parkinsons. His end of life...and mine with him..could have been so much easier together if we had the help. While our experience was bittersweet, I am glad that you and Mr. B are getting all that you have coming to you. You deserve anything and everything they have to offer. And a big thank you to the lady who is helping you with all of this. Thats wonderful!

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Dianne C.


Tue Oct 20, 2009 5:21 am
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Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2007 8:38 pm
Posts: 712
Location: CA
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What's frustrating is that federal VA benefits vary from state to state -- makes no sense. In CA we were approved for four hours care seven days per week. Here in IN, had to fight for two hours twice per week.

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Renata (and Jerome-in-Heaven)


Tue Oct 20, 2009 5:55 pm
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Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2008 10:30 pm
Posts: 976
Location: Henderson, Nv.
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Same here. But when they found out he had the cancer...which THEY didn't find...they gave us about everything we needed...seems like he had to be dying first!!!!

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Dianne C.


Wed Oct 21, 2009 5:18 am
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Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 1:46 pm
Posts: 4811
Location: SF Bay Area (Northern CA)
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We find this in all the disorders in our local support group and with all hospice agencies -- if you say you have cancer, they know what to do. If you say you have LBD (or PSP, CBD, MSA), they haven't a clue.


Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:28 am
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Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2008 10:30 pm
Posts: 976
Location: Henderson, Nv.
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If that isn't the truth!! We were fortunate that the VA doctors here were familiar with LBD and did offer SOME help but Renata is right...it depends on the state, their funds, etc. I was surprised the hospice RN and CNA did not know about LBD. I gave them the Dr. Boeve papers to read.

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Dianne C.


Wed Oct 21, 2009 12:02 pm
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Joined: Sat Oct 06, 2007 4:28 pm
Posts: 756
Location: LA
Post Qualifying factor
I do believe Mr B. being totally blind had a lot to do with his being given help. They also took note of my age as being the only one in the home to care for him. And, of course, we all know an 87 year old woman cannot be competent! Okay, I'll take it.

DrP


Wed Oct 21, 2009 3:18 pm
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