Applying for VA widow's benefits. Any advice?

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Since I'm caring for my 84 year old mother with dementia in my home, her new elder lawyer suggested applying for widow's benefits through the VA. My father did not serve in Korea (he was on Okinawa) but he DID serve 2 of his 3 years of service during the Korean War years. The lawyer implied that, once all of the paperwork was assembled & submitted, that the approval process would be relatively quick & efficient...like maybe a month or two. I have a hard time believing that since *nothing* the government or VA does is quick & efficient. Anyone have insights into approx. how long it takes between application & awarding of benefits? Also, I'm investigating nursing facilities so that I have my top choice & 2 back-ups shoyld the top choice not have an available bed when we need one. At least one of the local nursing homes will NOT accept VA benefits for payment. Would the VA be depositing money into her bank account that we can then apply to payment for the nursing home or would they want to deal directly with the home and that is it? And, lastly, I reviewed mom's assets with the lawyer & he never said they'd be a problem but some research that I've done suggests that, yes, there is a minimum amount they can possess at certain age levels & still receive VA benefits. True? And, if so, what's the minimum at age 84?

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Information about aid and attendance eligibility is here:
https://www.agingcare.com/articles/veteran-aid-attendance-benefit-long-term-care-156656.htm

Also, search aid and attendance in the aging care.com search box for more articles.
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Most counties have a Veterans office that has someone to help you. My county did and he walked me through the process and actually filled out the application for me. You do have to get a lot of paperwork ie death cert, marraige cert, moms birth cert, discharge papers...but once you get it all together it is just a waiting game. I am still waiting.
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Hi OzarkOlly. Great question. There are two avenues. As the widow of a war time veteran, your mom may be eligible for VA pension benefits to help pay for medical care she receives. Alternatively, if your dad died as the result of a disability/chronic condition/injury that he first obtained in service, she may be able to obtain Dependents Indemnity Compensation.

If your dad was a member of American Legion, VFW, DAV, etc, give that post a call and get some direction to a National Service Officer who can help you sort this out. Alternatively, you can call any of them directly. We have heard good and bad about county offices, but usually they aren't the best. Still, you can find a gem in any entity. If you can, ask around and see who's a good National Service Officer in your area.

As far as the time required once an application or claim is filed, it is usually not quick but does vary very widely depending on where you live in the county and how fast your local VA Regional Office is at clearing claims. Last we checked where we live, it was 9 to 12 months for a pension determination if that gives you any kind of ruler...and our inquiry was a couple of years ago and was for our area only.
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Uh, you really need to contact the VA with these questions. And the one thing I'm sure of is that the longer you wait to apply, the longer the process will take. ;)

Just dive in the pool. It may sound confusing and a little scary, but they'll walk you thru it.
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My mother is 82. The denial in 2014 reflected that her income was over the alloted $1,3XX. (as I type this, I am uncertain of the exact figure). We recently appealed and I have yet to hear any news. Her caregiving costs have significantly lowered her 2015 income.
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Oops, I see my comma typo in the above amount. Sorry. Per the packet, "income limit for a surviving spouse with no dependents is $13,563.00"
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Jabtrb...you indicated that you're still waiting. How long has your wait been so far?

Lillybet...thanks for the income numbers. I had kind of assumed the original number was a monthly figure. Looks from the finall figure that you supplied that it's actually less than $1300/mo. Good clarification to have!
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Olly, we also used the county and service organization assistance. I was reluctant at first, in part because we've always handled legal and financial issues ourselves. But I finally accepted that there might be a better way than for me to repeatedly call, get information, follow up, download forms, call again to clarify confusion portions of forms, get more guidance, etc.

The county Veterans office prepared the application and e-mailed it directly to American Legion, which took it from there. The process went smoothly, I had to provide some additional information, but qualification for service connected disability was granted retroactively to application date about 5 months after application.

There are so many issues to the income level and how it can affect care; at this point, I would refer to the American Legion again or VFW to help walk me through the process. They do this on a regular basis, and it's easier for them to understand and explain than to try and wade through the complicated qualification criteria necessarily established by the VA.

You have a lot of questions; it'll be easier for you to just avoid the red tape and contact a service organization. You don't have to have been a member or have made donations. They serve because it helps veterans and their families.
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