My VA Aid and Attendance Story

Discussion in 'Share Your Personal Experience' started by andypitt, Jun 21, 2017.

  1. andypitt

    andypitt Newbie

    Recently my mother was awarded aid and attendance benefits after a 4 1/2 yr process. During that time period, we made 3 filings. We initially opened a claim in 2012. This took over a year to get a decision in which the VA decided she had enough asset to cover her Assisted Living Facility expenses. When we received this decision we immediately updated that claim, since we had been spending her assets for her support, and it took over a year to get the same decision. We then submitted another update and it took 7 months to get any activity even though we asked for "expedited service" since my mother was 92. The first response we got on the 3rd update was a request for another form on Assisted Living expenses, a net worth statement, and some additional information. We supplied that immediately and then 2 months later the VA requested the same forms that we supplied when we started the 3rd update almost a year before. At time we could not understand why they wanted to start the process all over again, as it was fairly obvious from our standpoint that she should have been awarded benefits. We then sent in a letter to the VA showing how over time and using my mothers countable income (which was extremely negative), and VA's own actuarial tables that she would run out of money well before her estimated lifetime. Because we did not get a response we called the VA hotline and got the response that we should just supply the requested forms and wait for the process to run. We then insisted that we speak to the evaluator. They said we couldn't do that so we told them unless we spoke to someone in authority we would call the VA's Secretary's office or whomever in authority we could reach. We also threatened to visit VA Headquarters in Wash DC ( we live close) and find someone to talk to. The person on the phone assured us that someone in supervision would call back. A few days later a supervisor called and asked what the problem was. We explained the above and pointed out that they didn't need another round of paperwork to determine benefits. After some discussion, the supervisor agreed and said we just needed to supply another form from the Nursing Home where my mother had been moved to and the award would be made. The VA took an additional 2 months but finally the award was made along with back payment from when the 3rd claim was filed. We also felt that because it took so long to evaluate the 2nd update on the claim, my mother should have been awarded benefits earlier. so we're putting together another update to the claim, to get the VA to reevaluate when exactly my mother qualified for benefits.

    To summarize for those thinking about applying for this benefit, be advised the VA isn't forthright on what it takes to qualify. When they award you they tell you how they came to that decision in detail. When they reject your application they only say why and provide no details. Throughout this whole process our feeling was that the VA makes it very difficult to get these benefits by not providing enough information to the criteria they are using. If you want to apply for these benefits this site is great. Even though it takes effort supply the VA with all the forms listed on the front page of this organizations website. In addition get a copy of M21-1MR, Part V, Subpart iii, Chapter 1, Section J (Just copy and paste this into a search engine). This tells the decision process and also gives a life expectancy table. When you calculate the countable income and if it's negative then you can figure out using your assets how long your money will last. If if lasts less the life expectancy given in the tables then you have a great case for benefits. Also don't be shy about disagreeing with something the VA asks for if it doesn't make sense. That's it. Feel free to asks questions about anything in this post.
     
    Kaylin likes this.
  2. Kaylin

    Kaylin Hero Member Staff Member

    This is wonderful, @andypitt . Thank you so much for sharing your story. While I am sorry to hear it took so long for your mother to be awarded the A&A benefit I am so glad she was awarded and that you came back to share your story and tips. I will be sure to add that M21-1MR paperwork to my notes.
     
  3. SickofVA

    SickofVA Newbie

    I would recommend that if you have submitted all the required documents and believe your veteran qualifies for A & A, and you have not received a response from the VA within 6 months (which I believe is more than enough time for the VA to make a decision), then you should immediately contact your Senator's office. Do not wait any longer. Your Senator will assign a staff member to your case. Once they contact the VA, the VA MUST respond to their request within 30 days. I found that this was the ONLY way to get action from the VA and wish I had done it sooner. I was already working with a veteran's aid organization that helped me with the documentation, but they have no authority over the VA. Your Senator does.
     

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