Aid & Attendance ... do I need a lawyer?

Discussion in 'Veteran Application' started by CamofCT, Dec 7, 2015.

  1. CamofCT

    CamofCT Newbie

    My father (97) recently suffered a small stroke which has left him unable to walk, but he is still alert and mentally sound. He is currently undergoing rehab and my sister and I hope in a month or two he will be able to go into assisted living. He was living independently up until the time of the stroke. My father lives in Georgia, I live in Connecticut.

    In starting the application for A&A and to avoid the cost of an attorney, I contacted a VFW officer here in CT to connect me with someone who could guide me through the application process … somebody with fiduciary authority. Apparently I needed to work with someone in GA where my father lives, not directly with someone in CT. The VFW officer said he'd have someone from GA contact me. A week later no one had called so I contacted the VFW officer again, who was very surprised. Within a half-hour I got call from a Pension Benefits officer at the VA office in Atlanta. I outlined my father situation and that he was unable to fill out the paperwork needed for the A&A benefit, so I was doing as much as possible, but needed guidance since I'd heard that the process can be long. He was very nice and said since my father was 97 the process should be expedited. He requested my father's social security number to see if he was in the VA system. My father has never used the VA so he was not in the database. I said I had filled out VA Form 21-527EZ and had what I thought to be all of the necessary supporting documents:
    • Certificate of Birth
    • Social Security Card
    • Form SS-1099 — 2013 Social Security Statement
    • Army of the United States — Certificate of Service
    • Report of Separation
    • US Military Retirement Pay - monthly income
    • Social Security - monthly income
    • Net worth and the value of other property (well under the amount for eligibility)
    • List of doctors and medications

    The VA Officer said to send him the application -- which I did unsigned plus scans of the documents. I asked for confirmation. I assumed he would get back to me confirming receipt and outlining the next steps in the process. I received no reply. Unfortunately I noticed an error on the application so the next day I emailed and left a message on his answering machine to say I'd be sending him a revised application. I asked him to confirm. I heard nothing back. A few days later I tried communicating again by email and leaving a message on his answering machine. No response. Finally after two weeks I emailed to say that since I had not heard back, I would enlist the help of an attorney. Again no response … and that is where things stand now. I have an appointment in a few weeks with a law firm that specializes in A&A applications.

    I am still hoping to avoid the cost of an attorney and therefore request advice on how I should move forward.

    Thank you in advance.
     
  2. Kaylin

    Kaylin Hero Member Staff Member

    CamofCT,

    I have a couple recommendations for you. One, you can call the VA to see if they have your father's application on record yet or are in the process of looking over it. This may not be the best way to get an answer, but it could get you somewhere.

    Two, I would contact the manager of the VA office in Atlanta and see if you can speak to ANYONE at the office about your father's application situation. If they do not get in touch with you, try to contact the Senator's office in Georgia to get them to inquiry about the application.

    If you call the VA or the VA office in Atlanta and they seem to not have even sent in your father's application, you could always do so yourself from your own residence. Make sure to keep a copy of everything and mail return receipt.

    I hope this helps with your situation so you do not necessarily have to hire an attorney.
     
  3. CamofCT

    CamofCT Newbie

    Kaylin,

    Thank you for the reply.

    Following your advice, I called the regional benefits office in Atlanta and of course it was busy. I'll try again at a later time when it's not as busy.

    One glitch is that since I did not hear back from the VA officer confirming receipt and then cancellation of the first application I sent him, I did not send the revised application thinking that further communication with the officer was pointless. But perhaps he did at least start the process of getting my father into the VA system.

    Anyway, I will continue to pursue your recommendations.
     
  4. Kaylin

    Kaylin Hero Member Staff Member

    CamofCT,

    I do hope you can figure this situation out for your father's application. Please keep us updated. You're welcome.
     
  5. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    CamofCT,

    You do not need an attorney to resolve this. Since the application was just submitted, contacting his Senator at this stage would not be the thing to do. It may not even be enter into their system yet.

    You do need to call and speak with someone else in the office to confirm receipt, but the application will not be processed in the GA office.

    His application should have been sent to this address:

    Philadelphia Pension Maintenance Center
    Veterans Administration
    5000 Wissahickon Avenue
    Philadelphia, PA 19144

    There are only 3 pension centers that handle this application, and they are broken down by the states they handle.

    If you cannot get a hold of anyone to confirm receipt, then submit a new application with the corrections, and mail Return Receipt to the address listed above. You also need to keep a complete copy of the application for your records.

    I do not see on your list VA form 21-0845 Approved 3rd Party. You need to have that form included with his packet indicating his approval of you as someone the VA can discuss his application with. They will not speak with you without it.

    I hope this helps clear a few things up for you.
     
  6. CamofCT

    CamofCT Newbie

    Vetadmin,

    Thank you. This information is very helpful. Two questions:

    • VA Form 21-0845. I see that a VA File Number is one of the required fields. Where do I get this number?

    • When submitting the application to the Pennsylvania office, will scans of the supporting documents suffice or do they need originals? (I'm very apprehensive in sending all my father's original papers.)

    I will see my father at Christmas and will have him sign both forms.
     
  7. Kaylin

    Kaylin Hero Member Staff Member

    CamofCT,

    If your father was ever receiving VA benefits before, his file number would be included on those documents. If not, he will not have a file number until the VA assigns one.

    You can submit scanned supporting documents if they are certified copies. I don't blame you on not wanting to send the originals. We recommend people never send the original papers to the VA.
     
  8. CamofCT

    CamofCT Newbie

    Kaylin,

    To the best of my knowledge my father has never used the VA system and when the first benefit officer I spoke to put in his social security number, nothing came up. But he does receive a monthly pension from the government due to an injury during his Army Air Corp training back in the 40s. Would there be a VA File Number associated with this? If so, the only record of this pension are the monthly direct deposits into his bank account.

    The scans are of original documents which I would think are better than "certified copies."
     
  9. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    CamofCT,

    You do not have a file number until the VA assigns one, so leave that blank.

    You can include copies of documents, but on the DD-214 and marriage licence you can go to your local bank and have a Notary make a copy and they will indicate on the copy that it is a "true and accurate" copy, so that you do not send those originals. We do not recommend sending the originals and you do run the possibility of not getting them back.
     
  10. CamofCT

    CamofCT Newbie

    Vetadmin,

    My mother passed away a few years ago, so I would think a notarized copy of the marriage license is unnecessary. ??
     
  11. Kaylin

    Kaylin Hero Member Staff Member

    CamofCT,

    If you are filing for just your father, then yes, you are correct in that you do not need to submit the certified copy of marriage license.

    Best of luck!
     
  12. kwalsh999

    kwalsh999 Newbie

    My brother recently did this for my father. He followed all the instructions found on this website and then went down in-person to the VA Center in Cleveland and spoke to people there to ensure he was following instruction. My dad is 90 so it was expedite.
    The Cleveland VA people also handed him a few hundred $ in vouchers for use for ? grocery and incontinence items to be used at selected stores(walmart, cvs, etc) I don't live there anymore so I didn't see those.

    My dad's application was processed by the Milwaukee processing center. They turned it around in 1 month! Sept submission- the $ was deposited in my father's account October.
    They sent a clearly worded approval document and also suggested trying to claim for more $ for the previous year if in fact we'd been paying out of pocket for home health care and have Dr. notes and receipts/etc. Not the case so we won't but it's nice of them to show that more $ could be retroactively collected.

    Good luck. It may be a good idea to go to the main VA center in CT or GA cities you are in for info if possible.
     
  13. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    kwalsh999,

    So glad to hear that the website was helpful and that you got through this process so quickly.

    They truly is having a complete "Fully Developed Claim" and mailing it to the correct Pension Maintenance Center for your state. Submitting locally will require the packet to be forwarded to where it should have gone. Of course we always recommend mailing Return Receipt, and keeping a complete copy for your records.
     
  14. davidbilly

    davidbilly Newbie

    Great info to know about here .....
     
    Kaylin likes this.

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