Lessons Learned/Tips

Discussion in 'Tips and Resources' started by Southern Boy, Aug 11, 2017.

  1. Southern Boy

    Southern Boy Newbie

    I recently filed for A&A for my father. Thought I would share what I learned....
    1) Read thru the threads on these forums, take notes where you found good info because trying to find it again from memory is difficult. You can get answers to most if not all of your questions if you spend enough time and effort looking here. If you cannot find an answer then ask, someone will be kind enough to help.
    2) It's really not that difficult to apply. It may seem intimidating but most of the info is easy to obtain and filling out the forms is pretty straight-forward.
    3) The physical exam does not have to be done by a VA Doctor. In fact it is much easier if you have your family Doctor do it.
    4) If you have access to a VA Regional Office go there first!!! The VSO in our area is at least a month behind on calls/emails but you can go right in to a VA Regional Office and get help immediately. HOWEVER- they will not talk specifics with you about your vet unless you have the release of info to a 3rd party form completed and ready to show them.
    5) You can get "certified copies" at the Regional VA Office
    6) Both of the gentlemen I spoke with at the Regional office said my fathers negative monthly income due to the cost of a caregiver was so high that I did not need to include any other expenses to qualify for the max benefit (negative income was close to 1K more than max benefit of $1.7K) Since there were only two other expenses I included it anyway. My impression was they were telling me to keep the application simple and straight-forward as possible.
    7) It took less than 12 days to get a SS Awards letter from the SS Administration website.
    8) Do not mail the application if you live close enough to take it to a VA Regional office. They will look over the application to make sure it is in order, make suggestions, changes, etc. I have also been told by several people that it will be processed sooner if you take it there.
    9) This was a bit alarming. The man at the Regional office used a black marker to cover up all of my father's banking info on the application and told me not to include a voided check or deposit slip. He said that could be provided later after a decision was made. His rationale was that too many people at the VA would have access to that info and could "get in to your father's account without you even knowing it."

    These are just a few tidbits I have learned. Will post again when I hear from the VA.
     
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  2. Kaylin

    Kaylin Hero Member Staff Member

    This is extremely helpful - even some info on here is new to me! Your bullet point number 9 is especially interesting and, I agree, alarming. I will make a note of this myself if anyone asks in the future.

    Can't thank you enough for sharing your insights as you've gone through this application process. We need more people like you on the forums! :)
     
  3. Southern Boy

    Southern Boy Newbie

    I should have know things were going too easy. Received two letters this week from the VA. Apparently on the Third Party Disclosure form you can only designate one person, not three (why do they have three lines for names then?) I corrected that and sent it in. The second letter was worse. "Your unearned income seems too low compared to the net worth you claim" and "due to the amount of net worth you claim we need information concerning your monthly expenses." They wanted form 21-849 completed plus bank statements. I went back to the VA Regional office yesterday and this time the experience was totally different. I got a jerk this time that was no help at all. His response was summarily "just do what the letter says" but when you cannot figure out exactly what the letter is requesting you to do it's kind of hard to comply! Anyway I sent bank statements and a bunch more info in again (most of it was redundant). We will see what happens..... I also sent an email to my Dad's Congresswoman asking her to get involved. I'm not gonna play with some spoiled bureaucrat.
     
  4. Kaylin

    Kaylin Hero Member Staff Member

    Ugh, I hear ya! The Va Regional Officer did have the right idea though. You have to just give them what they ask for at this point. I'm glad you contacted your dad's Congresswoman. Did you ask for a Congressional Inquiry into the status of his claim? You can definitely do that if the applicant is 90 years old or older or if they are facing financial hardship so as to request expedition of the application, too.
     
  5. Southern Boy

    Southern Boy Newbie

    The Congresswoman's Aide told me they informed the VA "there was a Congressional Tag" to his application. She and I exchanged several emails, I kind of got the feeling she half read them because she was telling me to do stuff that I had already told her I had done. I did not get the impression she knew much about the A&A eligibility or process because several things she said contradicted what I have learned on this forum. In any event, hopefully they will approve soon and jut knowing that there is a "Congressional Tag" will help the VA expedite the process favorably.
     
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  6. Kaylin

    Kaylin Hero Member Staff Member

    I'm glad you've made progress. It doesn't surprise me that she had not heard of or knew much about the A&A benefit. It's still very little known even to those who work in the government. Even to those who work at the VA sometimes!
     
  7. Southern Boy

    Southern Boy Newbie

    So my Dad's A&A was denied. They said his net worth was too much. He has about $70K now and thats all. I guess they figure he will die before he spends it all. I am really irritated with the VA. Does anyone have any suggestions?
     
  8. Southern Boy

    Southern Boy Newbie

    So today I have gotten more info. I have to say that I've gotten info from this blog as well as other internet sites, a Senator's office and the VA Regional office. Basically none of it is useful, it appears to me that it depends on who at the VA reviews the Veterans claim and what kind of mood they are in as to whether or not the claim is approved. At the time we applied my dads bank account had $80,190, his monthly income (SS is all he gets) vs. caregiver expenses were in the negative, he has to draw out $1700 a month from savings to pay for his caregiver. I submitted everything I was supposed to the first time, they sent me a letter requesting more of the same info (which I again supplied) then they denied him because "his net worth is $81,190." So contrary to what I've read and been told $80K appears to be a hard cutoff. What is irritating is that based on the info I supplied and on the date I applied they had the information to determine his net worth had dropped below $80K well before the date on the denial letter. Personally, I think the VA is hoping he will die before we reapply. I know some of you on this forum work for the VA and I really believe that you personally want to do the right thing but overall I think the VA System is horrible, corrupt, inconsistent, and disrespectful to Veterans and their families. I will re-apply again, it's been suggested to me to wait until his net worth is in the $60K range. I will say that the woman who handles VA affairs at my dad's Congresswoman's office is gem. I had gotten the wrong impression of her based on emails but she actually called me, listened to me rant, was very empathetic and gave as good advice as I can get. I had hoped to share what I have learned so someone else could benefit from it but I do not have that optimism now. Rant over.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017 at 2:49 PM
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  9. Kaylin

    Kaylin Hero Member Staff Member

    Oh, @Southern Boy I am so so sorry to hear this. But do not give up! This just means that you can continue to reapply by updating the VA with his latest financial info (including any increased medical expenses as well). I wouldn't necessarily wait until he is at 60k, but that is, of course, your call.

    Unfortunately your story is not the only one that we've heard like this. Many do claim that the VA just hopes the veteran and/or spouse dies before they can award the money and sometimes I think that can be the case. It sucks and it's wrong on so many levels. Your dad earned that money. Please don't give up fighting for it for him.
     

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