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My dad will soon be moving from independent living to either assisted living or skilled nursing/ nursing home but has so many health issues that I think it will be the latter. He is a veteran and we’ve encouraged him for a couple of years to apply for his pension so that aid and assistance would be easier if we needed to go that route, but he did not.


I’m realizing now that his nest egg that he had created won’t last long and that soon his cost of care will exceed his retirement plus social security.


Military veteran pension was denied based on him being just over the asset limit. What is the best course of action to appeal this knowing that he will be within the asset limit soon when we have to start paying a lot more in living expenses.


I know they have the new look back rule and worry about things like him paying me back during Covid when I started having a laundry service and sitters come help him out and I was doing all of his shopping for him. He doesn’t do online things so I paid and he was just paying me back. It certainly wasn’t gifting his assets though.

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There's great info in this feed! Also keep in mind that if he goes into a nursing home, and he might qualify for long term medi-caid, then the VA may change his monthly benefit to around $50/month. But if he plans on privately paying using the A&A funds, then he should continue to get the full amount that he is entitled to.
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The VA Pension or VA Aid and Assistance is just like Medicaid. Very strict guidelines. Unfortunately, those with just enough money have to go through everything they have before they can get help.
If your Dad served even one day during a War period, he will qualify for VA Aid and Attendance. You have to be below the government approved assets which I think is around $130,000.
A Elder Care Lawyer can help you put his house if he has one into a Lady Bird Deed, which keeps Nursing Homes or the State coming after the homestead.
A trust might help with other assets. However, the government considers all monthly income. If your Dad gets Social Security plus some type of Pension monthly payments, he will probably not qualify.
If he served during an actual War, I would consider finding a Certified Lawyer or Representative to help with the filings. Legally, they can't charge for helping with filing but they can charge for ways to get through the system. Patriot Angels is one of these VA Aid and Attendance reps. On the VA website, you can look up by State and zip code, Representatives around you. I told my sister to use Patriot Angels to help file for her as a Spouse of Vet. They are helping her with all paperwork. Once, they establish you are in a residence like Assisted Living etc., usually 3 months, you can start getting assistance. It's worth the upfront money with The Lady Bird Deed, Trust and or VA Representation costs to help you navigate through it all.

Good Luck!
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first, keep track of everything, receipts, etc.  secondly, depending on how much time you have before the appeal period ends, you might be able to appeal it once he has spent down enough of the asset money.  Check with an Elder attorney as they will be able to help you with this process. good luck
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Imho, you should make an appointment with the Frisco, TX VA office closest to there. Have on hand the DD-214 document. Btw, "the look back period" is not new when applying to Medicaid.
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If you dad served on a ship with asbestos, he would have been exposed to asbestos. Also, every soldier that served on the ground in South Vietnam is presumed to have been exposed to agent orange. It's just the VA still says you have to prove it. I don't know if the problems your dad is experiencing are related but highly likely they are. The VA denies every claim the first time just for the hell of it. If he and his doctors can show a relationship to these two things, he is entitled to at least some portion, if not the entire, VA disability benefit. There are NO income or asset limitations on that benefit and a 100% disability qualifies a veteran for the maximum which is now just over $3,300/month (tax-free). If there's any chance at all he qualifies for some this benefit, don't give up. He deserves it. It took my husband a full year to get approved but other friends are still not approved after 3 years. I guess it depends on what kind of proof you have, his doctor's support, what state he's in, etc. There are also websites that assist in the process. Good luck.
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worriedinCali Jul 25, 2020
The VA doesn’t deny every claim the first time for the hell of it. My father and uncle were never denied.
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YI did not state how long
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Contact you local Veterans Assistance Commission office.
Bring in any paperwork you have (DD214, any medical records if any from the service and if your dad wrote letters to your mom while he was in the service that might help) Depending on where and when he served he might be eligible for more than just the Aid and Attendance. Several of the conditions he has could be related to chemical exposure and that would give him what is called a "Service Connected Disability"
There are people that will charge to file an appeal but please start with the Veterans Assistance Commission, their services are free and their goal is to help Veterans get the service, care and benefits they deserve.
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My understanding of VA benefits closely matches Southern Sun. Those who work 20+ years get a pension and get health insurance coverage through TriCare. Like Taarna said, if a veteran can prove that they received a wartime injury then they can receive a disability pension. The Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit is for housebound veterans that need assistance with their daily living. The Aid & Attendance benefit rules were changed not that long ago and the transfer and gift rules more closely align to Medicaid. I thought I read once that Aid & Attendance won't be added if the veteran is receiving the disability type of pension; it was either or. But I couldn't point to the rule and that may have changed.

The Aid & Attendance benefit is a monthly flat dollar benefit. Where the Medicaid long-term care benefit is comprehensive and pays for necessary services that the beneficiary cannot pay for themself. You should consider getting professional advice on both so you have a comprehensive plan. I agree with Garden Artist that you should check with the VFW or the American Legion first. They may have trained volunteers. For the Medicaid portion you would need to seek an attorney. It's counter intuitive, but the Special Needs Alliance is a good resource. The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys search tool can be refined by "practice area", one of which is "Veterans Benefits" and another is "Medicaid Planning".
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Even though you paid and he was paying you back, those payments may still be looked at as gifting. That is a question to ask directly to the VA on how they count payments to children. If you have the receipts for what you paid out of pocket and proof of his payment to you that matches what you paid out, they may not count it. Ask the people who dispense the assistance - they know the answers.

His current issue is being over the asset limit. So an appeal right now would not change the eligibility rules. Start paying and spending down his money and then reapply. Keep receipts for every cent you spend of his money for his care so you don't have any issues when you reapply. And do NOT move any of his money without having a receipt to back up what the money was used for. It will just create more problems...and so many people try to do that.
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I would re appy for the VA's Aid and Attendance through American Veteran's Aid. This is a third party that for a fee will assign a case worker and an attorney to process your dad's case. My sister and I are almost through the process. It is well worth it due to all the red tape with the VA. In the middle of our case my dad died so now we are processing the benefits due my mother. My dad had a disability pension and served during wartime as a marine.
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JoAnn29 Jul 23, 2020
She has applied its now an appeal.
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SoutherSun, OPs Dad applied for Aid and Attendance which is considered a pension for those Vets whose cost of care is more than the income they bring in. Those who served during wartime are elligible.

You can appeal. Dad is now going into an Assisted living so his assets will be going down fast. If Dad reimburses you, you should have receipts showing that. I was Moms POA and on her bank account. Once a month when I paid her bills, I reimbursed myself for any out of pocket. I kept all the receipts for the month in an envelope with the check number written on it. I don't do spreadsheets but you could.
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I am retired military with 30+ years in, Army/Air Force, unless your father served 20 or more years, there is no retirement pension for him to apply for, and he is ineligible for Tricare for life health coverage. There are some programs where if worked in federal jobs, one can "buy back" military time but it is complicated and expensive, if he would even qualify. If you can reallocate all of his assets, check if Medicaid is an option, but they have become more strict, also. They denied coverage for my polio paralyzed brother due to interest balance on a $15,000 life insurance policy, his only asset.
As your father is covered by insurance, receiving a civilian retirement, plus social security, he should be fine. If the time comes to place him in a care center, if he has residential property or other tangible assets, that can be sold and put in a trust strictly for his health care costs. You may check on VA sponsored care centers, but like the medical clinics, fully retired veterans get priority. Have you considered live in care for him? I wish you the best in the unknown future, you are smart and loving to try and prepare for your dad's care. Fortunately, with his assets you have some choices.
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Great advice here and you can always appeal a first decision. Get the the VA Office and make an appt with a VA counselor.
My suggestion about getting paid back for services for a loved one --- keep receipts and make a journal. Without that, it can be difficult to prove that amounts were not "gifted". Best of luck to you and your Dad.
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disgustedtoo Jul 23, 2020
Hopefully you saved the receipts for anything you paid for. The laundry service and cleaning would be easier to prove, given the services are provided at your dad's home. BUT, it never hurts to keep ALL receipts, so that you can prove his payments to you were legit.

I haven't dealt intensively with the VA (as noted elsewhere, I gave up after the first attempt) and have not dealt with Medicaid, but my understanding is they won't focus so much on nickels and dimes, just obvious larger amounts of cash/payments unaccounted for.

Best to have ALL payments accounted for, that way they will know that you are above board for all of it!
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I agree with GardenArtist, please make an appointment for local VA. Remember to bring your dad's DD214, copies of financials, and copy of your POA (financial).

Did your father suffer from any mental or physical problems after his time of service? If so, he may be entitled to a disability pension as well as retirement benefits. The disability pension is tax free, but it does require a medical record review for the time your dad served. VA should be able to guide you with this as well.

The VA does have residential facilities in every state. Your dad may qualify for placement in one of them.
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disgustedtoo Jul 23, 2020
NOTE: as with ALL federal entities, POAs are of little/no use. They don't honor them and have their own form of this.

I know this because SS didn't care (had to go rep payee with them - POA isn't honored) and mom's pension is federal. SS was easy to get done (not so getting the special account set up for it, but that was a bank issue/lack of knowledge.) Pension was much harder as they have VERY specific requirements before they will approve it. The good news with them is once they did approve it, I was able to have her direct deposits continue to her regular account! So far they have not requested any accounting from me (SS does every year, but it isn't hard and can be done online. sadly this last year they sent a letter questioning why all was used for residence/food - really? 1139/m and you think I should be spending this on things she wants, vacations, etc? A 96 yo woman with dementia who no longer stands/walks, and has virtually no hearing? I purposely keep pension and SS going to the monthly MC fee, which is less than 1/2 the total, and the funds coming from a trust cover the rest plus anything she needs. Makes accounting easier for me! The only ones I would have to answer to is my brothers and they never ask. Even the IRS has their own form. I have an Enrolled Agent do the taxes for her and the trust, and he has me sign it with DPOA even though they don't "recognize" it.

Stupidly the forms that these "entities" use are rather useless. It requires the principal signing it, and we all know that someone with dementia isn't really qualified to sign documents, hence why WE have POAs!!!
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Contact the closest VA office to Frisco. TX  and make an appointment to discuss this with one of the counselors.    Or contact the local VFW or American Legion that offers assistance to Vets.   These counselors are very knowledgeable and can advise you on options, including starting the process now for application when the asset levels are reached.

AL helped us; I also got excellent advice from a VFW rep.  

Some states also have offices; I got some good advice from a Veteran working for the Michigan Veterans' department.   

Don't hire one of the outfits that purports to help Vets qualify; you can get better support for free, and if I remember correctly, it's illegal to charge for that advice.   Some companies bundle asset management with "advice" and get around the law.
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disgustedtoo Jul 23, 2020
The one I dealt with didn't charge anything, but unfortunately the forms she emailed to me had expired (they had new forms, really no difference, just the expiration date!), so the application was denied. It wasn't easy to get info from the VA as to why - the letter was incredibly vague and the VA people I contacted had no idea (the last one DID figure it out.) I was given the option to refile, but unfortunately EVERYTHING financial had changed (SS increase, Medicare increase, federal pension increase, cost of facility increase, etc), so it wasn't a simple copy from here to there. A lot of recalculation needed to be done and given so little help from my brothers, I had to let this go. I was juggling too many balls with mom's finances, supplies, medical and dental care, plus trying to get the condo ready for sale.

If you can get help from the VA, VFW or EC attorney, you should be able to resubmit. Keep in mind too that, if needed, Medicaid might be another option, once his assets are nearly drained. It might be good to compare what each would provide and go with the one that might be higher. You cannot have both, so get the most 'bang' for your buck (and efforts!)
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