How does VA assistance work and what is required?

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I just went through this whole process for my mom who has Alzheimer's. What I would recommend: educate yourself on the process. I went to a few seminars that explained the process - a few assisted living facilities in the area hosted VA benefit information sessions.

I personally did not find it to be a breeze. I applied in August 2016 and mom was awarded benefits in March 2017 (that is I heard pretty good in the Wash DC area) it usually takes a year. Yesterday (September 2017) I just got appointed a fiduciary to get her back pay - that took over a year.

First you have to see if your parent is eligible. The veteran has to have served during a war (time periods are posted) and you are not allowed over 80 thousand dollars in assets. Veterans benefits do apply to the spouse, my dad was the veteran. After I educated myself, I made an appointment at the local VA office. They were very helpful, but you have to make sure everything is accurate yourself. If there are any errors or questions to what you place on the application - it does delay the process. I think submitting the application electronically through the local VA office instead of mailing a paper application did expedite the process.  Also when I did encounter a problem, I could go directly to my local rep, she was very helpful in assisting me and she could contact the VA directly - which was very helpful.
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When my dad passed benefit ended. We reapplied for mom and it took 6 months to the day, and then we just did the fiduciary and received retro money. I truly am grateful for this. We are outside of Cleveland also.
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The VA timeline for claims is now three years waiting but can be expedited based on age. Use a service organization to file like the Purple Heart, DAV or American Legion.
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question: Does the spouse of a covered veteran loose their coverage once the covered spouse dies? Must they apply again for just self? Also, must you re-apply for coverage each year?
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Depending on your parent's status, there are a number of things they may be eligible for. We were able to trace my dad's illness to his time decades ago in the service, for which he then got a disability pension from the VA. We fought for years, literally years, and when he died, he was at 100% disability.

Then there were years of paperwork and fighting to get my mom, as his widow, the VA DIC pension SHE was entitled to. Worth it - it's a nice chunk of change and it pays for all her prescriptions and medical coverage (whatever Medicare doesn't cover).

Once she moved into assisted living, I went back to the VA and got her an additional payment on top of the DIC for aide and attendance - which is very different from getting the Aide and Attendance benefit. It's a lot to slog through, but my experience has been that:
A) the VA is very helpful, even on the phone
B) the local veterans benefits administrators (mostly former vets, mostly men, mostly mansplaining things I knew they were wrong about) are not as helpful for the paperwork involving widows, but presented with the facts, once the paperwork was submitted, we got the additional award immediately. (And after the years of fighting for moms DIC benefit, it was a nice sized check because the payments are retroactive).

Contact your local VA and start by having a benefits advisor speak to you on the phone. You will need the veterans discharge papers in front of you.
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I found it super easy to fill out forms for my 85-year-old dad. He got the aid check deposited into his account within 3 months and the fiduciary assessment happened 3 months later. I delayed applying because everyone freaked me out about how hard it is to get and all the hurdles you have to go through. Basically if you can follow instructions and track expenses properly it is a breeze. I am now baffled at how hard people say it is to apply.
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We used this briefly for my father and mother. There are a few good websites with clear instructions on how to apply. Also the local or regional VA office will help you. It only took about a month for us once we turned in forms. This was in the Cleveland area. My brother drove over to the VA office and handed them in and when he was there one of the people also gave him a nice supply of vouchers to help pay for incontinence supplies which my father has been using for quite some time. So all in all we had a good experience. There are tight restrictions on the eligibility and qualifications but as long as you fit within those the program helps pay for some in-home services. we used it to pay for visiting angels partially that gets very expensive fast and they can't really handle everything. Good luck and peace!  We only used that financing source for a few months because we realized both my mother and father needed 24 seven care so we had to get them on Medicaid and into a nursing facility that took medicaid patients. Medicaid of course is a much different set of requirements for eligibility.
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Just a fyi.....I had to fill out both the Pension and Aid & Attendence apps for my father to be eligible to receive benefits.
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The local office of the Veterans Affairs should be able to help you, for free. We used the county VA resource and were very relieved that the process was less cumbersome with their help on the application. It does take time, but it is well worth it. The Aid and Attendance benefit helped to pay a good chunk of Mom's assisted living fees until she qualified for Medicaid. Absolutely look into this. They have some restrictions and income/asset limitations, but the Veterans Affairs representative should be able to explain these to you.
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We came upon a business in our community to handle the paperwork in getting Aid & Attendance benefits for mom, the widow of a WWII vet. The process took about 5 months. Despite what was mentioned in one earlier reply, we paid this company for it's work.
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