Accrued benefits entitlement

Discussion in 'Share Your Personal Experience' started by Flyer66, Feb 7, 2014.

  1. Flyer66

    Flyer66 Newbie

    My father received A&A for four mos., and was due six mos. of retroactive A&A that was not paid before he passed away because of VA foot-dragging in fiduciary appointment. He is survived by me, the son, and a spouse. In applying for accrued benefits on form 21-601, am I interpreting the succession preference correctly when it appears that regardless of whether she or I applies (both relatives of the deceased), a lump sum would be payable to the spouse in this case? I was hoping I could use 21-601 to receive reimbursement because I paid for much of his recent assisted living and caregiver costs out of pocket, while she paid nothing. But it appears to my reading that would be irrelevant because his living spouse can simply apply for the lump sum. Am I on or off course with my interpretation? Would assisted living and caregiver expenses be countable as "last illness" expenses?
  2. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    Our condolences on the loss of your Dad.

    You would want to file it in your name only with documentation of care expenses you paid on his behalf from your personal funds. Your Mom can't claim those expenses as she is his spouse and would not be eligible to do so.

    You can only be reimbursed for what you paid and not the entire 6 months that was never received. Any care, assisted living expenses you paid from the date of application can be claimed. Date of "last illness" is not just final expenses. It includes from the date of application.

    If Mom is in need of care, you will need to do a new application 21-534 for her as the Surviving Spouse.
  3. Flyer66

    Flyer66 Newbie

    Thank you for your kindness. Can you explain you interpretation further? Respectfully, multiple other sources express a different view. They indicate that a claim for accrued benefits on the basis of relationship (spouse, children, parents in that order) takes precedence over a claim based on having paid last illness expenses. I hope there is a twist that makes your interpretation the correct one. Here is a snipet of what I'm finding elsewhere:

    The order of precedence of claimants for accrued benefits based on relationship to the veteran is: (a)
    the surviving spouse; (b) the veteran’s children (in equal shares); and (c) the veteran’s dependent parents (in equal shares). So
    long as there is a claimant (or potential claimant) of higher precedence, accrued benefits may not be paid to a claimant of lower
    precedence, even if the preferred beneficiary never files a claim, unless the person in the higher class dies.

    If there is no eligible claimant for accrued benefits based on relationship to the veteran, then any accrued benefits available may
    only be paid as reimbursement to the person(s) or entity, including the veteran’s estate, who actually bore the expenses of the veteran’s final illness, funeral, and burial.
  4. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    Spouses cannot be compensated for acting as caregivers to one another. If Mom paid for his care, it is considered "joint" funds meaning both she and the veteran had access to those funds and are considered joint assets.

    Since you paid expenses out of your own personal funds, you are out-of-pocket, and entitled to file against the accrued amount for reimbursement.

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