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Is it best to file for benefits on your own or get an attorney to file for you?

Patriots Angels is an organization that first establishes whether your Veteran/Veteran's spouse is eligible for any benefits then will refer you to their legal representative ($750). This organization was wonderful to work with and cut down the qualifying time to merely months!! They walk you through the documentation needed and get everything submitted for you, navigating through a very complex system. It took us 4 months and we recently got Mom Aid & Attendance benefits (retroactive to our intent to apply date) Check out their website and decide for yourself. $750 is a small investment to get the benefits sooner than months/years later...
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Reply to tharris
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I assume you are talking about a VA pension and you should be able to go to a local VA office , however; to qualify his total assets not counting his home must be less than 80000. Additionally, in order to qualify he must be getting some sort of medical/ assistance either at home. On the other hand it is much easier to qualify if he is in assisted living or a nursing home. It will take approximately 5-6 months but after the initial filing the payments are retroactive. There are companies which will gather all the info and submit the paper work for you; in my case I did it all myself, but you can get assistance from an outside source who undoubtly knows the ropes better than me so hopefully it would get done faster. Good Luck
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Reply to piper2104s
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The military service separation document DD214 is where you should start.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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AnneChung, Am curious why you said to join USAA ?
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Reply to Myownlife
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Definitely best to get a elder law attorney to help you. I found it very complicated. But either way, the sooner you file the better. Start at home by gathering all your important papers. Most important is you dad's discharge papers. Treat those discharge papers like they are gold. When our lawyer had to send those in, he send someone who was bonded to hand deliver, and they never leave them out of their hands. Cannot be mailed. Before that, i never realized how important they were.
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Reply to DoingbestIcan
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1. Make sure you have a copy of the DD-214. It can be requested for free here: https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records. I just did this "emergency status" to get the 21 gun salute and burial flag for a veterans passing. Turn around time was about two days. The DD-214 was sent via postal mail. I did not have a way to scan the completed request so I took a photo and sent via e-mail.

2. Find your local VSO, this person is trained by the VA to assist with the process, it is also free: https://www.benefits.va.gov/vso/ Find one that you get on with their personality and they seem motivated to work on things. These are volunteers that will help you with the process, review paperwork and that sort of thing.

3. Find your state representative: https://www.benefits.va.gov/vso/ and here: https://nvf.org/veteran-service-officers/ They can also provide you with the state contact at your state governments office. You may need this later if things don't get moving quickly, services are free.

4: Find my local VA: https://www.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp in case you need their assistance or for local homes, hospice options, caregiver benefits, volunteers to assist/relieve you, death benefits such as the forms for a headstone, burial locations and so on, services are free. Keep good records as it may become confusing and calling back keeps things moving along.

This FB page is run by Veterans/VA employees and is a good resource if you run into problems.https://www.facebook.com/groups/626936820727015/ A motivated VSO and VA social worker and you'll be fine. Don't be afraid to go to the VA on the veteran's behalf to discuss things w/ the social worker of if they have a coordinator that works with family members.

If you are not already a member of USAA you might want to do now as it is sometimes difficult to get membership later. Even if not used it is good to have the membership option. Sadly we didn't take care of this with my mom re. her veteran hubby.

There may also be a local veteran support group or chaplain which is also helpful for you and the veteran.

Tell your dad a Marine veteran says thank you for his service.
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Reply to AnneChung
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My dad fought in Korea so my mom is eligible for VA benefits. She has not yet used any Medicaid benefits, as she had long term insurance which lasts one more year. Would you recommend applying for VA or Medicaid? I understand that one can't get both. I'll be moving to where she lives prior to the time her LTC is up, and she will live with me. But neither of my sibs are willing to help provide any care (altho' they are both local) and I know I will need help. I'm getting worn out now taking care of her in AL. Do either VA or Medicaid help pay for home health aides? thanks!
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Reply to Teri4077
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I went to our local VA office and they walked me through it. They were so helpful and though it took time and multiple trips it really took away the stress of it for me. I was applying for aid for my mom who is a widow of a veteran.
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Reply to anereus
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Thanks for all the good info. I am POA for a veteran who is in a memory care apartment. I called the local VA office to ask how far ahead I should apply for benefits since he still has a lot of money for me to pay his own way. I was told when I get down to the last $100,000 I should begin the application process. By the time it is complete, I will have used up his money and the public benefits will kick in. I had already sold his town house and am using that money for his care. I will need to look into the VA power of attorney process, since it is different from the state one. So far, they are talking to me since I have all his records, discharge info, social security info, etc., but that does't give me any authority. I can also bring him with me to the VA office if that will simplify things. He served 12 years in the Navy before and during the Korean war, so he qualifies. It doesn't sound too complicated, just takes time for things to kick in. Good luck to everyone dealing with this! I hope this will be as easy as it first seems.
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Reply to JohnnyJ
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I haven't looked into it but I've been told of a program called Aging Warriors. Though my research showed it to be the same as Aid and Attendance, I was told by someone who did it that it was different. I suspect, however, that it was a front for applying for Aid and Attendance, because the person who told me about it said they paid the first "paycheck" to the agency who got the money flow starting. I've also read that's not legal. In short, just be careful about which org or agency you use, and ask up front about fees. Personally, for our situation, I wouldn't mind someone going through the rigmarole for us because we three siblings all have other pressing family issues that preclude any of us from diving into the possibility of getting this aid for our mother (my dad served during the Korean War). We did find out that she earns too much now to qualify, but at some point in the near future as her Alzheimer's progresses, that will change. Leroy, good luck to you and your dad.
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Reply to shb1964
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Start as soon as possible, it takes forever but my understanding is they go back to when you originally filed. I would not recommend an attorney. Just call or go by a local office and start the process. They have a web site, but it can be intimidating sometimes. Good Luck and blessings and peace to you and your Dad.
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Reply to WAECare
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LeRoy...
Call the VA and start there.
Also if you have a Veterans Commission Office near you make that your first stop. They will point you in the right direction.
The area I live in is VERY Veteran focused and I had great luck getting the info that I needed from the Veterans Commission Office.
(If you are not sure just a thought you might want to stop in to the local VFW and ask there if any one has any suggestions)
When you call the VA ask to talk to a Social Worker they will be able to help you and get you the names of the people that you should contact.

Through the Veterans Commission Office they can request all his records so it would be easier to determine where he served, what injuries he may have had, what he came in contact with. All this would help in determining if he has a "Service Connected Disability" and what "level" is the disability. There are MANY conditions now that have been traced back to contamination from various chemicals. (No longer is it called exposure to "Agent Orange" but "Agent Rainbow" as there were other chemicals that were used. All of them may be responsible for may conditions, diseases. Cancers, Diabetes, and others)
You do not need to pay anyone for the service that the Veterans Commission Office does. You do not need to pay anyone at the VA for the service that they do to help determine qualification.
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Reply to Grandma1954
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Contact Patriot Angels in Knoxville, TN. You pay them about $700 upfront, and they get you VA BENEFITS IN 90 days! 99% success rate! Worked for us!!!
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Reply to stenotype1
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Go to PatriotAngels.com They were truly a Godsend for me. My dad is 94. He refused to get VA benefits because he didn't need them as much as other vets do. Patriot Angels will walk you through each step to get benefits. There is no charge. They will help you align everything. From start to finish, it took me 4 months to get my dad's VA benefits approved through them. He now receives all VA benefits.
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Reply to c47090
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You may want to consult an attorney well versed in Medicaid. If veterans aid plus social security or retirement funds go over the income limit then dad may not qualify for Medicaid when he needs it. Once you look in that direction and see if he is eligible, do the math.
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Reply to MACinCT
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You could also get some guidance from a local veterans service organization, American legion,VFW, DAV, etc. Most have a trained person that can help with the process.
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Reply to OldSailor
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Leroy, your profile doesn't indicate where you live, so I don't know what VA facilities might be available in your area. You have a few options:

1. Do you have your father's DD 214? You'll need it to enroll him for basic medical benefits, which is the initial step before getting additional benefits.

2. Google VA (your area); if there are VA hospitals within driving distance, contact them, and ask to speak to the department for new benefit enrollees. Typically, the VA has it's own nomenclature for departments, but I don't remember them now.

3. If the VA hospital is quite a distance from you, Google "VA, (your county or a close by county). These county VA offices are staffed by educated and qualified staffers who can assist you in getting a DD 214, and in filing the initial application. Once your father is enrolled, the local VA hospital will contact him to set up an appointment

4. Ask about a VA power of attorney so that you can act on your father's behalf, given that he has dementia (per your profile). That way the notices of appointments will come to you rather than your father.

5. If neither of these options are convenient, Google American Legion or VFW and ask where the closest service posts are (or which VA facility) as they also have knowleldgeable staffers whose responsibility is to assist Veterans.

One of our local VAs has office space for the service organizations, so you could also meet with a rep there. They would handle all the paperwork processing; the only thing you'll need to provide is medical information, probably civilian ID cards (once your father is an enrolled Veteran he'll get a VA ID card.).

6. When I re-enrolled my father some years ago, I also had to get status letters from his doctors, so that the VA is aware of what treatment he was getting in the community.

7. The VA offers a prescription service; it used to be a flat rate for most of the meds, but that was years ago and I typically bought Dad's meds at a very good local pharmacy (not one of the chains). Consider carefully whether or not you want to have the VA provide meds; they're efficient, but you have (a) no choice of certain meds, and (b) no choice of supplier.

I believe the VA contracts with suppliers or companies, and they're the ones who provide the meds. You do NOT have a choice of whether to get meds with final manufacturing in the US, as opposed to what used to be called emerging markets. I didn't want end stage manufactured meds from China or India.

In addition, the VA doctor may substitute one med for another. This happened with my father. His VA PCP doctor was also a VA research doctor. She substituted a cardiac med and I didn't know it until we received the package of meds. Consulting with Dad's treating cardiologist, he said he definitely DID NOT WANT Dad to take that med. It just wasn't appropriate for Dad's cardiac condition.

The VA refused to change the order, refused to take the medicine back, and refused to negotiate on the price for the meds Dad couldn't use. So I was stuck paying for meds which Dad shouldn't be using. At that point I withdrew him from the VA pharmacy program and bought meds again through the private sector.

8. Marcia is right; there are companies that exploit Veterans by offering to enroll a Veteran for free. That aspect might be true, but they need to be able to list your father's assets, and this is where they take their "bite" out of your father's funds. Someone I knew outside the VA realm told me this, indicating also that the company will "consider" reinvesting assets with, guess who? Companies they recommend! And they take a cut of that placement and I believe management of those assets.

The person who told me this said just enough for me to understand how that kind of outfit works.

They use the diversion tactic b/c it's illegal to charge Vets for handling a benefit application.
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Reply to GardenArtist
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The Veterans Administration is where you want to start. Be very careful of services offered by others that say they will help you get benefits even if they say they are" VA approved". There is a lot of money being made by people who are not acting in the best interest of the veteran. The VA should be a good place to start.

I found this site helpful, too 
veteranaid.org/forums/index.php?threads/how-to-apply-for-aid-and-attendance-complete-instructions.4369/
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Reply to Marcia7321
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We just went through this. The actual filing for Medicaid or VA benefits is not too difficult. But it is very helpful to have an attorney review your financial plans before you file. It's very complicated and mistakes-like improperly moving money, or failing to title assets properly- can be extremely expensive.
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Reply to Marcia7321
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LeRoy, what kind of benefits? Medicaid? Sometimes a facility will help file, but you do have to cooperate and stay on top of the process.
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Reply to geewiz
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