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The VA assigned a fiduciary when my mom applied for VA aid and attendance widow benefits in March. When the claim was awarded in October and the fiduciary was too ill to continue her fiduciary duties, the VA is telling me Mom doesn't need a fiduciary. On top of this, when before, they told us there would be restrictions on what the benefit could pay for, now they say there are no restrictions. Does this sound right? Should I just accept this change in the rules?

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Our recommendation is to call the VA benefits helpline and invest that hour on hold. Explain your situation and see what kind of advice or assistance you get. Seems like you didn't get much help with the county National Service Officer, which isn't all that unusual from what we've heard. You are clearly uncomfortable with your mom handling her own money, plus the rest of the family for that matter, and you are the one to know. There could be a remedy. See if you get the same answer from the VA helpline as you did from your mom's county.
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I feel so frustrated by this process. I spoke to the county VA counselor for my Mom's county. He confirms that the VA has ruled Mom does not need a fiduciary. He kept asking if Mom could handle her own affairs. Well CAN and WILL are two different things. I don't trust my mother to take care of her own affairs, she never has. And I really don't trust some of my relatives who I am afraid could get access to her bank accounts.

The VA counselor said Mom should open a bank account at the bank on her independent living campus. She has no checks from her current bank account at a different bank in the city where she used to live, so she will have to use her ATM card to get cash to open an account, I guess. Then she has to call the VA with the routing and account number or give me the numbers and I can call the VA. I don't know if Mom CAN call the VA and get through the system. I don't know if the VA will accept the information from me.

She is 3 hours away from me, so getting someone on the phone who then wants to speak to my Mom to confirm things isn't possible.

I wish I could just stop worrying that something will go wrong but I feel this situation is getting out of control. I was hoping no one in the family, including my Mom, would even know she received the claim because many of them are vultures and she has no concept of money. I hope that the fact that the VA says she must give an account of her medical expenses will be enough of a deterrent from any misuse of the funds. Am I crazy to think that might work?
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Thank you runragged! Will certainly check out those sites. I knew the application would be long and frustrating but naively thought that once the claim was approved, everything would be fine and simple. Silly me!
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We're not very familiar with A&A and slightly more with pensions, but can tell you from personal experience that the VA can be a challenge. Your county National Service Officer may be able to help you, but they are considered to not be the best resource as a whole just in general, although some are great. You may want to check whatever answer you get from your county with one of the big organizations like DAV, VFW, AMVETS, American Legion, etc, etc. It likely won't matter if you go to your county rep rather than the one who services your mom's county UNLESS there is a boundary for the geographic responsibilities of two neighboring VA Regional Offices. (Regional Offices process claims for disability and pensions as well as A&A we think.) Either way, the NSO should be able to give you some insight, but may not have the best access and will have no influence if outside the geographic boundary of the Regional Office servicing your mom's application and file.

If you have an hour to kill, mostly on hold, you can always try the VA's benefit help line at 800-827-1000. Even still, you will likely need to check the answer you get against something or someone else authorative to ensure you got the right answer. There is a way to send an email through the VA's website but you can wait up to a month for a response.

Wish there was an easier answer to the VA questions. Google is one of your best friends in this work. Two forums that have a lot of experienced people with the system are hadit.com and vets.yuku.com, and you might want to visit those for some ideas or to gain further advice from experience.
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I've gone through all of the paperwork and application and nowhere do I find a fiduciary agreement. There is a request by my mom to make Ms. B the fiduciary but I don't see anything from the VA agreeing to do so or assigning anyone as fiduciary. Ms. B may have just been a designated representative as BrendaLynn mentions.

Also, the benefit applied for was pension and not A&A, so that may also change things? Not sure.

I am meeting with the VA office in my county this week and hope to get things cleared up. Even though Mom is in a different county.
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Regarding the DPOA, you are right...(The below is from the senior care for vets webpage.) My mother signed, but her signature is very poor. When we had the medical paperwork filled out, her Dr. and a nurse signed as the witnesses. She has been receiving benefits for a few months now. There is a paper she later signed allowing me to have contact with them---it was the Authorizations for VA to Release Information to Designated Representative.
We never heard from an assigned fiduciary. I printed out the forms online, sent in all of her paperwork, filed an appeal (change due to her moving from my home to assisted living, etc. We did all of this from home, with the exception of the Dr.s visit, and never spoke to anyone. She was approved this past summer.

Is a Power of Attorney (POA) or legal guardian allowed to sign the application in place of the veteran or surviving spouse?

Answer: NO ONE is permitted to sign the application for the claimant, unless they are currently receiving a VA benefit and a legal custodian has previously been appointed to them by the Veterans Administration. The VA does not recognize a POA in this process. Even if the signature is very poor, it will be accepted. The claimant may mark with an “x”, but it must be witnessed by 2 people.
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I do have DPOA. But the VA doesn't go with DPOA, they assign a fiduciary and it is often not the person who is DPOA. Am still researching the issue.
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Sounds as if there is some confusion. If your mom is not capable of handling her own financial affairs do you have a Durable Power of Attorney? If you do not it would be wise to get one regardless. You will need it eventually.
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If she is competent to handle financials, she does not need a fiduciary.
If she has dementia, find another person willing to be the fiduciary.
The Aid & Attendance is to be spent for the care as specified in the application and there will be an annual recertification to prove that is where it went. Keep records of all the payments related to mom's care.
If you have lost the copy of the award letter, have the VA send another so you know what the funding is for.
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