Success - App Filed June 2010 and Lump Sum Arrived September 2013

Discussion in 'Share Your Personal Experience' started by LindaInTX, Oct 27, 2013.

  1. LindaInTX

    LindaInTX Newbie

    We first applied for Aid & Attendance for my father-in-law and step mother-in-law during June 2010. We began receiving benefits for my father-in-law effective May 1, 2012, and the lump sum back payment finally arrived during September 2013. Following is a synopsis of what it took to get the benefits and lessons learned along the way. We live in Texas, and my in-laws live in Oregon. I have omitted a lot of interim correspondence we had with the VA in order to keep this shorter.

    First, I would like to thank Debbie and the contributors to this website for everything. Without this website, we would still be waiting for the benefits to start.

    My father-in-law is now 85 years old, and he has needed full-time care since he was in his mid to late 70s after suffering from numerous strokes. My step mother-in-law provided that care until she was diagnosed with Stage IV lymphoma during February 2010. They had less than $5,000 in savings and a mobile home in an over 55 park that was worth about $18,000. They had given their car to a neighbor when they both couldn’t drive any longer, and the neighbor always drove them around for appointments and shopping. They received about $2,700 per month from my father-in-law’s navy pension and social security.

    They both ended up in nursing homes during May 2010, and we had to fly up to Oregon to figure out the next move for both of them. The State of Oregon Senior Services personnel were wonderful. They helped us sort through everything and figure out the best solution for each of them. They even talked to my in-laws and convinced them we were doing the right thing. My father-in-law went to an assisted living facility, and my step mother-in-law went back and forth between home, the hospital, and a nursing home until she passed away during August 2010. The money from their savings and the sale of their home went fast, and both of them went on Medicaid.

    The Oregon Senior Services told us about the Aid & Attendance benefit that my father-in-law was qualified to receive. We applied during the middle of June 2010. We received a letter stating that the VA had received the application along with numerous requests for information – most of the requested information had already been provided. We then received a denial letter dated March 1, 2011. Since the reasons for the denial were completely erroneous (or bad calculations depending on perspective), we submitted a completely new application with two inches worth of paper during December 2011. I’ve left out some details to keep this short, but basically, the VA was having trouble with the fact that my step mother-in-law was alive when we filed and she was now gone. So, I felt that it would be better to leave her off the application rather than appeal. I also learned a lot based on what they requested and after finding this website, so the second application was way more comprehensive.

    Imagine our surprise when we received a letter back from the VA stating that they had matched up the application with the previous application, after not being able to ever find the previous paperwork when we called or sent additional information, and the case was being reopened based on an error on their part. (Well, they didn’t admit it quite so bluntly, but that was the bottom line.) The benefits finally began May 1, 2012, and as stated above, the lump sum arrived mid-September 2013. From the time we received the letter reopening his claim (around January 2012) until the lump sum finally arrived, my husband called every couple of weeks to find out the status. The lump sum was delayed somewhat because of the need to appoint a fiduciary, but that did not justify the 16 months it took to receive the lump sum. Also, the lump sum payment did not include anything for the two months my step mother-in-law was alive after the application was filed. They did go back to the original application for the calculation, but we left her off the second application since it seemed to be muddying the waters.

    Lessons learned while going through the process:

    • Keep calling and be as pleasant as possible when calling. Make it sound like you are the reason everything is taking forever and not the VA. My husband talked to numerous VA people during his calls. Some of them were helpful, and some of them lied to get him off the phone faster. There were a few that just flat out said there was no claim on file and one needed to be filed before the VA could help. It does not take long to figure out which type of person you randomly received that day. As soon as he figured out he had the latter, he would thank them for their help and hang up. My husband did reach two really good representatives along the way that realized the application was not where it should be, and these representatives moved the process along. Without them, we would still be waiting.

    • Had we known it would take over six months between the fiduciary interview with my father-in-law in Oregon and the interview with my husband in Texas, we would have moved mountains to have my husband in Oregon for the first interview. The VA said it was not necessary, because they would just send a person to each location.

    • This has been stated many times on this website, but I want to say it again. If the VA requests an item, send them a copy of the entire application packet again with the new requested item on top. I left out a lot of details to keep this shorter, but we received numerous requests along the way for more information which had been already provided. Once we started sending everything with every request, the requests for more information stopped.

    • Letters from the VA that say “a few weeks” actually mean several months.

    I would be happy to answer any specific questions anyone has about our experience. I couldn’t put everything in this post, or it would have been a book.

    One other comment I would like to make. My husband and I are fortunate enough to have the resources to pay for my father-in-law’s assisted living facility. My father-in-law would not even think of letting us support him, so he went on Medicaid. Even on Medicaid, there was not enough money for my father-in-law to live comfortably in assisted living without some assistance from us. I’m not sure what people without the resources to help their parents do when it takes over three years to get through this process.
  2. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    Thank you for sharing your experience, and for your kind words regarding the efforts put forth on the site and the forums.

    I always appreciate knowing that we are making a difference, and that our veterans or their widows have this resource to help ensure proper care.

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