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Father is 88 and never tapped into his benefits. Now he is in need due to Dementia, heart disease and being a fall risk. His wife is 78 and she too uses a walker. They need care in home but very costly. So I am attempting to apply for his benefits. Realized as I went through papers I am going to need help, because he cannot remember things.


Is there an agency that can help me with the paperwork? I heard the area agency for aging could be of help but no one returns calls or emails.

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Hi, I just went through the process for my Dad. You can contact the Veterans Service Organization in your area, or the Regional VA Center for help. In my area, the VSO was booked for months and was not even taking appointments any more! So I did it myself. You can apply online, and my 93 y/o dad didn't have to go anywhere, except to the MD to fill out one of the forms. When I applied, there was absolutely no assistance that I could find to help with this cumbersome process, and it was sooooo confusing and stressful, but I did it! So I made this video to help other people, I hope you watch it. It will take you through step by step how to prepare, what you need, and provide you with all the forms and how to apply online. I wish there was a video like this when I went through the process, I think it will help you. However, I only applied for my dad alone. I'm not as sure about applying for the spouse. I think they call it survivors benefits, so she may not qualify until after Dad passes away, but I'm not positive about that one. Here is the link to the video, I'd be glad to answer any questions
http://bit.ly/2nuAFUy
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Diva, I think you might be able to avoid a trip to a VA office.  You would have to meet with them, provide data they need, including an ID, and take the papers home for your father's signature, then return them.

I would think someone would want to call him to confirm everything is legit, and that might be the issue that would require him to appear, if for only a brief period of time to confirm his identity.   And I'm sure they'd need to do that.  

He'd also have to have a photo taken for his VA ID card.    

I don't recall w/o checking the benefits if there are still any home visits for homebound people, but that would be an issue to be raised, including whether or not he'd have to go to a VA office.    Perhaps the best thing to do is call the local VA office and raise the issue with them.   There may be other options of which I'm unaware. 

If you get to the point of wanting in home care, there's an agency I discovered with two Veterans on staff.  They were the most flexible in terms of contract terms (agencies require the client to execute contracts, some of which are very restrictive), but they weren't comfortable with food prep for someone with dysphagia.    So I couldn't hire them, as dysphagia support was critical.  Let me know if you're interested though and I'll dig up the contact info.  

Michigan also has a Veterans' agency; I spoke with a Veteran employed there; he was very, very knowledgeable and helpful.
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Diva, there may be a way around having your father have to go to the VA Office, but I have some things to do this morning  and won't be able to get back to you until later this afternoon.  

Also  thought of some other issues that might be of help in your area.
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Agree with Steelers; try the American Legion or VFW as well.   In my area, both have offices in the regional VA hospital.   AL helped my father get his disability benefits.

I see you're in Michigan as well.   We've gone to the Ann Arbor facility; there's another in Detroit, but this one seems to be the closest to you:

42621 Garfield Rd, Clinton Twp, MI 48038
Phone: (586) 412-0107

Macomb County may also have a regional Vets' office; Oakland County does; in fact we went there to get started.  Papers were prepared and e-mailed to the American Legion, which took it from there.

And it's all done for free.   Whatever you do, don't pay any of the so-called legal Vets' specialists; they'll charge you an arm and a leg.  

And I totally agree with Steelers' comment about the AAA.    It used to be helpful; it no longer is and has even D'C'ed the excellent caregiving expos that have been held for 18 years.    The stay-at-home program used to be helpful; when I last called for an estimate, the guy who responded insisted on doing the work himself, and far more than needed to be done.  I found a much more qualified contractor who did it for $350 less, and did a good job.

Once your father's qualified, be sure to learn what "team"(green team, etc.)  is treating him, and speak with the Caseworker or Social Worker about assistance for caregivers.  

Some helpful links:

For Veterans, families, caregivers and survivors:
www.VA.gov/VetResources

VA Quick Start Guide, to help locating his DD214 and anything else you might need:
https://www.va.gov/survivor-quick-start-guide.pdf

Sign up here for VA newsletters (frequent, sometimes every other day, with good information in a range of topics):
https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USVA/subscriber/new?topic_id=USVA_185

Hope this helps; post back if you have further questions.
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DDiva78 Oct 3, 2019
Thank you for all the information. Question: Will my dad need to visit the VA office with me? I ask because he cannot walk much, and is home bound due to bladder issues. His Dementia and hearing loss also make things a challenge. It would be easier if I can get someone to visit his home.
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Go to a Veteran's Affairs Officer. I can tell you from personal experience that the Area of Aging is only concern is getting all the money that your father has.
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DDiva78 Oct 3, 2019
Thank you for the response.
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