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f so, is it complicated?

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what's a name: I had a similar experience with VA rep in Louisiana. This is why I finally searched out a reputable service to help me file A & Attendance. Dad paid them but it worked out and he was awarded 3 months after claim submission Good luck
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Got a call from the VA fella processing Mom's claim last week. Ours are normally handled in Philadelphia, but a lot were sent to Wisconsin to help take up the slack. He said he had everything we needed, but we got a letter today asking for just a bit more info (more like an opportunity to supplement in case we forgot anything. I guess the heat is on to get them pushed through quickly since all the recent flak. We sent letter of intent in March, and submitted all the docs mid May. I'm hopeful that we'll get a decision soon!
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May 7th turned my father's application in for Pension/Aid and Attendance. Sent in as a FDC (Fully Developed Claim). He has been awarded and first check has been already deposited. Has only taken two months. He is a Korean Veteran,82 years old with COPD.
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Unfortunatly I have contacted the local VA person here and he hasn't answered my emails or returned my calls. I was told he wasn't very helpful with much. When I contact the VA in other ways they just always refer me back to this same person. :(
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We have a Department of Veterans Affairs at our county courthouse...they also indicated there are other local volunteer groups who could help with the paperwork. I would call my county courthouse for starters and just ask them who there might assist you or answer some questions regarding the VA Aid and Attendance benefit. if all else fails, if you can't find someone you could call THE Dept of Veterans Affairs and ask them for a local contact...I was told the local VFW groups were very helpful....American Legion, etc....if you call one and they have not heard of the benefit, that should be a good indicator they would not be the one to use to help you....pm me as to where you are located if you wish and I will see who I can find...
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hope22, you said you contacted your 'local office'. Who was that? That's my whole problem, I can't find anyone around here that can answer my questions.
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After I answered this question I became concerned I was doing something wrong and so I called my local office with whom I have been dealing since finally finding someone who knows what they are talking about...I probably need to say my comments are based on my particular situation..More specifically, I am Mama's 24/7 caregiver. I had to leave my job and lose all my benefits to care for her. Therefore, I could count myself as her caregiver and in applying for the benefit could allow up to the going rate in our area ...here it is $10.00 / hour. I figured mine based on a 40 hours week, even though I am here 24/7. But doing that, literally eats up Mama's monthly income, there in effect ALL the money we get from the VA goes towards caregiver expenses, and that is why I can use it to do things like buy groceries...pay utilities. Hopefully that makes sense...I think they more I post the more confusing I am sounding...hopefully that clarifies what I said...
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The way it was explained to me was that the medical expenses and such are used to determine the eligibility and the amount you will receive, but the money you receive is to be used for the care of the loved one...this would include grocery and living expenses, but you must be able to account for it..ie to show that it is being used for the care and comfort of the veteran or surviving spouse.
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When I filled out the forms, and when the VA rep came to our home, she confirmed the medical, insurance, etc. and also asked about groceries, gas, etc. She told me I had to be able to show that the money was being used for the care of my parent. It is my understanding that you can use the money to care for your loved one in whatever their needs are....my Mama is on a total liquid nutrition diet so that is included.
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whatsaname,on the VA Aid & Attendance application you specify what the money is for and can only use the funding for that purpose. And you do an annual report certifying that is what you used it for.
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Hope22 are you saying you can use the Aide and Attendant monies to pay for groceries? I was told it was only for medical/heath related purchases or things like lift chairs, etc.
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I def agree with mozingo...I think the volunteer veterans orgs are the best.....and most of the folks with those truly care that your loved one gets the help they need asap.....
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As far as managing the money, I use the separate account to pay ONLY for Mama's medical, her grocery, bills, etc. it is pretty easy to have a detailed accounting of where the money goes that way...
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A clarification to Nansacola: You are correct that it is against the law to pay a service to do the actual filing for Aid and Attendance. The service I used made that clear in their contract. However, it is not against the law to pay a service to look over your parent's situation and determine if they are even ELIGIBLE for the pension to begin with. This was invaluable to us because some people file and then are denied because they are not even eligible. It is not illegal to pay a service for pre-filing advice and guidance and consultation informing you of what to expect from this long and detailed process, what papers and records you will need and what doctor's reports you'll be expected to provide. Look for a firm that specializes in VA Aid and Attendance and is accredited by the VA. It worked for us. CAUTION: do your research and compare prices of these various services. Any reputable service should offer you a free phone or in-person consultation for you to provide them with the necessary information to determine the Veteran's eligibility. There should be NO CHARGE for this consultation. You agree to pay only if the Veteran qualifies and you have decided to go ahead with filing. It should be a ONE-TIME fee and there should be a written agreement of some kind explicitly explaining what services they provide and what they don't. You should ask as many questions in the free consultation as you need to (my husband was on the other line when I called). Beware of the one-time fee. We paid $850 and it was well worth it. But the first service I tried wanted $2500! I looked around a lot before deciding. Use your brain but also check in with your "gut" when you interview these services. And check with the BBBureau too. Good luck!
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I applied around February 1st of 2013 and it was initially denied. I appealed and we won as they had not counted my 24/7 caregiving. They do not include your home as part of your assets but as Garden said, it may be your Dad has too many assets to qualify. We had a ton of medical expenses as Mama did not have Medicare Part B at the time of her accident and all of those copays etc could be deducted from her income...she was finally approved around the end of November 2013 and got her first payment the end of December 2013. In addition to that, she was due a retro payment that is calcualted from the original date of when you applied for the benefit and we are STILL waiting on that.

They kept telling me to continue stressing the age of your loved one..(Mama is 90) and I finally found that the VA rep who came to our home to interview me to be the fiduciary was most helpful in checking on what is going on...I think one reason it took forever for us to get approved was the lady who initially assisted us did not truly know what she was doing. We kept having to fill out forms we had not been told about and each forms receipt to their office delayed the process at least a month or more.....for us, it was and continues to be kind of drawn out, but the extra assistance is a LOT of help...it is totally doable, and I think a lot of the folks who try to assist you are not very informed and from what I have seen, some of the law offices are the WORST at handling....I did it on my own, with the help of the local VA Department ...it is aggravating but helps to keep calling and calling and calling. I always just called and got my number in there to get a callback as I did not have time to wait thirty minutes or more on the phone....good luck
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I worked with the bank to streamline what I pay for. I would not pay for anyone else to manage the paperwork, forms. You can simplify things and manage the money so all of it goes to your relative and not to a management company.
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I worked with a volunteer organization. They helped me fill out all of the forms correctly. They said if all is correct, it will take a shorter amount of time to be approved. If it's not correct, it could take up to a year. The organization was American Patriot Service Core at www.apscnp.org 888-726-1772. It was a free service and they were very helpful. Mom had benefits in 3 months.
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My answer should be clarified - I should have written it's illegal to request payment for assisting and/or preparing the VA application. It's the issue of compensation that addresses the legality of the action.

My apologies to any who read my post and thought it was accurate.
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Those of you that are saying you manage the money. Are the benefits your parent is getting the Aide and Attendance Benefit? This is what my mom is getting. We are using a service to take care of the paperwork and make sure she is in compliance with all the regualtions. The problem I am having is that mom only gets a few hours of help a week and the helper is not making much more than minumn wage. Therefore over 1/2 of what mom is receiving is going to the company that is handling the paperwork.
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It don't believe it's illegal to have someone help prepare the paperwork, but you have to designate someone via a release of information form (I believe it's VA form 21-0845, which can be obtained via the VA website). It is illegal for someone to charge you for doing so. A visiting nurse care coordinator told us about a fiduciary service that was supposedly non-profit and got their money by paying all the care bills for us and charging a little extra like $2/hr more for home health aides. Sounded shady to me, so I just filled out the forms myself. I see no reason to turn over the fiduciary responsibilities to anyone else as long as there is someone competent in the family. It's unfortunate, but scams abound, like the one at vet angels who wanted us to put money in an annuity so that we met the asset requirement because it didn't count against us. Not only would he reap a fat commission, the income from the annuity would disqualify my parent from getting medicaid if the pension didn't come through, and there would be no way to undo it if he or she needed it for care. Please…use only the veterans service center if at all possible. They are paid by a separate entity, so there is no conflict of interest in helping you file the claim. Legit service centers are listed on the VA website www.va.gov, so that should be your first stop when seeking assistance.
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It took 6 months or so to get Dad's benefits, and they paid retroactive to when they received the application. It is deposited monthly into a checking account in Dad's and my name, and from that I pay his bills. Because he doesn't have a credit card and doesn't do well checking out himself, I often pay for things with my credit card and reimburse myself. I keep every receipt and records of everything that his money is used for. I keep him informed about his account and what I'm spending his money on, even though he doesn't really want to bother keeping up on it. With all I've seen on this site and other places, he's lucky to have me (and some of my sibs would be the same) who is honest and doing everything in his best interest. That's the way it should be but isn't always. Before he came to live with me my brother and I were each contributing to his and my step mom's monthly living expenses and it turns out my step-sister who was living in their home and "helping them" was stealing from them via unauthorized credit card charges and unauthorized bank withdrawals as well as narcotic diversion. I make sure I keep good receipts for everything I do for him.
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It's also my understanding that assisting someone to complete and file a VA application is not legal. I was told this by an attorney with whom I used to work, who left the firm to become involved with preparing VA applications in conjunction with financial planners who could then examine a potential applicant's portfolio and make recommendations for change, presumably ones which would require financial management.
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It was against the law for you to pay someone to assist you with a VA application. I offered to pay the financial service, and he told me that he could go to jail.
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Nansacola is right. Great she/he found a free service. I used a paid service ($850 one time fee) they are VA accredited financial service. Very very helpful with pre-filing information and they provided all the forms and follow-up advice. We got the benefit 3 and half months after filing the formal claim, but started process 2 months before. You have to get all your ducks in a row for the VA and having a service was very helpful. Get an accredited service (I don't think this site allows me to recommend the exact people I used ). I learned of my service through another service that provides short term loans to VA folks to cover bills until they receive Aid and Attendance benefits.
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It took about three months to get my mother's benefits. The free financial consultant included a cover letter with the application stating that due to my mother's age 94 she be put on the fast track. They did, and it is a true blessing. You have to have copies of everything--marriage certificates and the original separation of service letter/form.
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GardenArtist, that may have been the issue...the assets...But we had already spent over $75000 of his money paying privately for dementia care. He IS now qualified for Medicaid and all remaining assets are in Mom's name only as her half of the trust. But mainly hers is the house and the one car left plus perhaps $10,000 total in cash that we are paying bills with. It all goes fast and it's probably good that Dad's dementia is so bad, as he would have a fit that all he worked for and saved is about gone. At 88 and 92, they are simply outliving their assets. I understand that Mom is eligible for VA assist too, but spouses come at the end of the line after everyone else....so likely she will also end up on Medicaid in the end. Then Medicaid gets the house. Getting old is depressing and one lesson all the older people should learn is that they shouldn't go without doing things they want to do...vacations, trips etc....to save for an inheritance for their kids, because their health will eat up all that money anyhow. I kept telling my parents to go do things and not worry about having so much 'saved' up. There was only me left, and as a retired RN, I am pretty OK with my husband and I and the kids grown....but OH MY, it goes fast with dementia treatments.
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I found my local veterans service center to be MOST helpful! Even if you don't have all of the necessary paperwork filled out (yes, it's kind of complicated, but not undoable), have them file a letter of intent to claim for you. That gives you a year to get all of your paperwork in, but any pay once you get it will be retroactive to the date you filed the letter. We filed about 3 months ago, and we just got word that our application was received and they're working on it. Had to get more paperwork in, so not sure how long it will be, but I was surprised to hear from them so soon…I expected 6-12 months from what everyone else says. I think if you have all your paperwork done ahead of time and send it all in at once, they will probably process you faster because they don't have to file it in suspense pending receipt of all the etc.'s.
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Joannes, check the asset levels for your area. It might be that your father's assets exceed the maximum allowed by the VA for Vets in your area and the likelihood of getting benefits is low anyway. That's our situation. It's a waste of time for us to apply.

And remember that the VA has been under a lot of pressure because of the way applications have been handled, and some Vets have in fact ied while waiting for treatment. It wouldn't hurt to reactivate the VA app, but I'd go for Medicaid as a more likely source for payment, assuming that your father meets its qualification standards as well.
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I would appreciate knowing how long ago some of you applied for benefits, because we (from Tucson, Arizona) applied for my Dad's long term care VA benefits about 18 months ago, and were told a year ago that even though he is 92 and a WWII vet, we might as well go for Medicaid approval because the VA system would never get to him on their list before he died! So we applied for Medicaid and dropped the VA application. Is there hope for reactivating it or is it too late? I had a financial manager at the law firm handling this at the time, so I don't know the details past what I was told by her.
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The VA check and SSI are deposited directly into my mother's checking account. I pay the bills from her account that I am also on. Only mother's money goes into the account. My personal banking is at another bank, so no funds are co-mingled. Now that mother is under Hospice care, I do not have to pick up her medications and personal supplies. Things are much easier since I only have to visit her at AL.
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