Social Worker at VA discouraged applying

Discussion in 'Share Your Personal Experience' started by Laura k, Mar 7, 2009.

  1. Laura k

    Laura k Newbie

    My 88 year old father has recently moved to an ALF after a series of illnesses and a fall in which he broke a vertebrae. He needs assistance with showering, dressing, and transferring. He walks with a walker short distances but needs standby supervision to ensure that he doesn't fall. He has a tremor in his right hand that also makes it difficult to do many things.

    I recently gathered the info for A&A and submitted an application to the VA. His income is about $1000 per month from social security and he has about 30K in the bank, that's it. The ALF is a little over $4000 per month. So based on all I have read and researched my father would be a good candidate for A&A.

    Within a couple of weeks of receiving the application, the VA responded with a letter asking for medical evidence and providing the physcian's form to fill out. Since we had an already scheduled follow-up visit to the doctor at Hines VA to check on the healing of his back, we took the form with us for the doctor to fill out. The doctor had only heard of A&A and didn't know much about it so he called in a social worker to check over the form to make sure it was filled out correctly.

    I thought, Great! Someone is being helpful. But the social worker came into the room and immediately told my father and I that he is not eligible for A&A because he was not already receiving a pension from the VA. This woman had never met me or my father and did not know anything about our situation. She told me that there was a lot of misinformation being provided in retirement communities and many people were being denied. I briefly explained dad's financial situation and I'm sure she saw him sitting in the wheelchair with his hand shaking from the tremor. She discouraged me from sending in the doctor's form and wanted me to call the VA to further discuss his eligibility.

    I was shocked. I told her other social workers at the VA had previously told me that dad may very well qualify for A&A. She continued to be negative and discouraging. My father and I were both very upset after this.

    Then, later I looked more closely at what the doctor had written on the form and was very disappointed with the level of detail. I sent it it with other information from his recent discharge paperwork from a rehabiliation facility and the assisted living assesment form. I hope this will work out.

    Even after everything I read, I couldn't believe what happened to us. A social worker, who should be helping people apply for this benefit, actually discouraged us from applying without even bothering to get the facts first. I am contemplating complaining to Hines about this experience, but am worn out from both helping my father and working through all the details of this application.

    Any advice?
  2. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member


    I wish I could tell you that your experience with the social worker is not common place, but quite frankly the opposite is true! As ridiculous as it sounds there are more VA employees that don't know about this pension than do, and the ones who do, know just enough to dole out incorrect information.

    The confusion comes in from the fact that there is a BIG difference between "compensation" and "pension". Compensation is when a veteran has been rated for a combat related injury, pension has NOTHING to do with this, nor does the veteran have to have been injury during their service.

    It is a matter of taking something so simple and complicating it. If your dad meets the periods of war, has an honorable discharge, meets the financial criteria, and is in need of assistance, that's the end of the questions.

    I would highly suggest that you take him to a NON-VA physician, print off the form from this site and get it filled out without the VA's assistance. You may also ask for a letter from his ALF stating the services they provide for your dad and include that with the form.

    You could and should bring the matter to the attention of the Administration of this facility, and if your dad gets the pension awarded, I would walk back in there with the letter in hand and personally make sure she read it, and then I would give her a piece of my mind, as there is no doubt she has told others the same thing in the same rude and unprofessional manner in which she did you and your dad.

    We wish you the best and hope you will come back and let us know how things turn out for you and your dad.
  3. Laura k

    Laura k Newbie

    Great news. My dad was awarded the pension for the full amount! He received the letter May 1. The VA had received the application on February 11 and he will be awarded the pension back to that date.

    I have to say in our case everything worked well with the exception of our encounter with the VA social worker. My father received a phone call from someone at the VA reviewing his application and because he is hard of hearing he told the VA person to call me. He did and we clarified some simple information over the phone. About a month later, we received the letter.

    Thanks to Debbie and this website for all the great information. I would not have known about this benefit otherwise. My father's outlook has completely changed. He was very down about the high cost of the ALF. Despite needing the help he just couldn't get over his life savings being so rapidly depleted. Now instead of running out of money in 6 months, his savings should last about 15 months. This at least buys us time for selling his condo in this poor real estate market.

    Thanks again
  4. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member


    What awesome news for you and your dad! So happy that other than the Social Worker things have processed so quickly.

    Thank you for the update and I am glad we were able to be a part of things for you and your dad.

    We wish you both the very best. Please thank your dad for his service to our country for me.

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