A&A Maximum Monthly Award

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by tishy, Apr 1, 2008.

  1. tishy

    tishy Newbie

    Hi. Does anyone know if the VA automatically reduces someone's monthly A&A benefit by 5%? The reason I am asking this is that my Dad (WWII vet) has multiple medical problems, very low income, and lives in an assisted living facility. He was approved (thank goodness) for a monthly benefit of $1,474 and the advocate said that means he was approved for the maximum monthly amount. At the time he was approved, the maximum monthly amount was $1,520. She said that the VA automatically reduces the award by 5% because that's what the VA expects the veteran to pay for his/her medical expenses. My father's medical expenses and assisted living expenses exceed his limited income, and we (children) are subsidizing the difference between the A&A benefit and his monthly Social Security benefit. The ratings letter that my Dad received said that he could write to them and explain how he is paying his expenses (since his income if well below his expenses) and they would reevaluate their decision. I am preparing such a letter but the advocate said that he is receiving the maximum benefit, that the VA always sends a form letter and that the comments about sending additional information do not apply to my father's situation. I have looked at the VA webite and haven't been able to find anything in writing about the 5% automatic deduction. I called the VA and asked about it and the VA employee told me that the maximum benefit is currently $1,554/monthly and that she has never heard about a 5% deduction off an A&A award. I called another county agency and asked the same question, and they said that it's true. I'm so confused and frustrated that I can't find this in writing anywhere in VA info. Sorry for the long message, and thanks for any insight/info. that anyone can send my way.
     
  2. veteranadvocate

    veteranadvocate Full Member

    I will try to keep this short; sweet and to the point. There is no automatically 5% reduction of someone’s monthly A&A benefit. Let me know if you need additional info.

    The 5% is referring to the issue that if a veteran is entitled to non-service connected pension with aid & attendance, they would be entitled to $1,554 per month ($18,654.00 effective 12/1/2007) if they had no countable income. Unreimbursed medical expenses can reduce income. That means that the first $932 of medical expenses cannot be counted. If the veteran has at least $19,587 in unreimbursed medical expenses, his income would be reduced to 0 and the veteran would be entitled to the full $1,554 per month pension.

    I hope this clarifies your questions. It is unacceptable that people who are paid to know this stuff are giving out so much misinformation. Unfortunately, the veteran/widow and or families are paying the price for this misinformation.

    See attachment for copy of VA's regulation on this issue.

    The Veteran Advocate
     
  3. tishy

    tishy Newbie

    Thank you so much for your help. I told my Dad and he was so impressed that a complete stranger takes the time to share their knowledge about the A&A program. We are so grateful to finally have an answer to this question. I now have to decide if we will write to the VA directly (as suggested in the ratings letter) or if we should go back to the county office. The American Legion is officially representing my Dad (at least they did for the initial appilcation). The county office was very upset when they thought that we had already sent a letter to the VA; They said that they are his advocates. I explained that we were in the process of preparing a letter and that's when I was reminded that, in their opinion, my Dad was awarded the maximum benefit... I can't imagine why it would be problematic to correspond directly with the VA if the VA suggested that. Do you have any suggestions? The other wrinkle in this is that my Dad has relocated to another assisted living facility (different county). The monthly medical expenses still significantly exceed his income, so I am confident that the VA wouldn't reduce his award. In other words, we have been able to reduce the unreimbursed medical to approx. $13,000 annually, including the A&A benefit. We (kids) were losing our shirts with the previous assisted living location. My Dad is still getting the care he needs, but at a lower cost in an upstate county near where my brother lives.

    I know that we have to advise the VA of my Dad's change in address, and I had planned to do that at the same time that we ask the VA to provide the maximum monthly A&A benefit. I'd be grateful for any suggestions you may have. Thanks again from my Dad and me.

    One more question, please. I have been reading other questions and answers in this section. I saw discussions about family members filing paperwork with the VA to serve as someone's representative (not fiduciary). My Dad is mentally competent so there is no need for a fiduciary at this time. Howver, he is very hard of hearing and has a tough time talking on the telephone. He could not begin to handle the phone calls that I do and have been doing for him. Would it make sense for me to file paperwork to be his represenative or would that conflict with what the American Legion does? Thanks for your help. This is s great website!
     
  4. veteranadvocate

    veteranadvocate Full Member

    Thank you so much for your help. I told my Dad and he was so impressed that a complete stranger takes the time to share their knowledge about the A&A program. We are so grateful to finally have an answer to this question. I now have to decide if we will write to the VA directly (as suggested in the ratings letter) or if we should go back to the county office. The American Legion is officially representing my Dad (at least they did for the initial appilcation). The county office was very upset when they thought that we had already sent a letter to the VA; They said that they are his advocates. I explained that we were in the process of preparing a letter and that's when I was reminded that, in their opinion, my Dad was awarded the maximum benefit... I can't imagine why it would be problematic to correspond directly with the VA if the VA suggested that. Do you have any suggestions?

    First of all, tell your Dad that we are honored to be of assistance to him. We owe him for his service to our country and this is only a small way to show our appreciation. He is lucky to have you assisting him with his claim.

    I would like for you to read the two articles on the following websites. I could not have said it any better. Keep in mind that this is your Father’s claim and no one is going to care as much about it as you and your Father. If you decide to stick with the County Office and/or the American Legion, be sure you insist on having copies of all correspondence relating to the claim be given to your Father. If the County Office or the Service Organization makes a mistake on the information submitted to the VA, your Father is held accountable. You do not have to be at the mercy of the County Office or the National Service Organization. I am confident by reading your emails that you can easily handle your Father’s claim. Keep in mind that we are here to assist you.

    http://vawatchdog.org/08/nf08/nfAPR08/nf040208-1.htm
    http://vawatchdog.org/08/nf08/nfAPR08/nf040308-1.htm

    You can REVOKE the POA for the American Legion by having your Dad include the following wording on a VA Form 21-4138.

    [size=10pt][size=10pt]Please accept this request as an official notice to revoke the Power of Attorney (POA) for the American Legion (AL) to serve as my representative. This is to be effective immediately[/size][/size].


    The other wrinkle in this is that my Dad has relocated to another assisted living facility (different county). The monthly medical expenses still significantly exceed his income, so I am confident that the VA wouldn't reduce his award. In other words, we have been able to reduce the unreimbursed medical to approx. $13,000 annually, including the A&A benefit. We (kids) were losing our shirts with the previous assisted living location. My Dad is still getting the care he needs, but at a lower cost in an upstate county near where my brother lives.

    I know that we have to advise the VA of my Dad's change in address, and I had planned to do that at the same time that we ask the VA to provide the maximum monthly A&A benefit. I'd be grateful for any suggestions you may have. Thanks again from my Dad and me.

    As long as your Dad’s income is reduced to ‘0’, I would address the issue regarding his monthly entitlement. Your Dad will be provided an annual ‘EVR’ form from the VA to report his income and expenses. I would address his new location and amount of expenses at that time. He will not be creating any overpayments as long as his expenses are greater than his countable income.

    One more question, please. I have been reading other questions and answers in this section. I saw discussions about family members filing paperwork with the VA to serve as someone's representative (not fiduciary). My Dad is mentally competent so there is no need for a fiduciary at this time. However, he is very hard of hearing and has a tough time talking on the telephone. He could not begin to handle the phone calls that I do and have been doing for him. Would it make sense for me to file paperwork to be his representative or would that conflict with what the American Legion does? Thanks for your help. This is s great website!

    You cannot serve as his representative at the same time as the American Legion. If I was in your place, I would REVOKE the POA (Representation) from the American Legion and submit a VA form 21-22a for you to serve as his representative. Of course, your Father will have to sign the 21-22a form to authorize you to serve as his representative.

    The Veteran Advocate
     

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