Application Process for A&A for Surviving Spouse

Discussion in 'Surviving Spouse Application' started by pattyclarke, Apr 6, 2010.

  1. pattyclarke

    pattyclarke Newbie

    I was fortunate to come across this site two months ago where I have learned so much. (Thank you Debbie) I am hoping to have all of the paperwork together to file the A&A application by May 1st. So I thought it would be helpful to others to ask questions about the application ordeal and get answers that will assist others in the future. I started researching the A & A benefits after visiting many local assisted living facilities to choose a final home for my wonderful 91 year-old mother-in-law. I’ll refrain from commenting on that process with the exception of advising you to do your homework and to be aware that there are sleazy companies out there that want to take advantage of the elderly.

    Now on to the application process.

    Documents I will include with application (21-534) are:
    Marriage certificate
    Death certificate of veteran
    Surviving Spouse SSA award letter
    Form 21-0845 Authorization to disclose information to a Third Party
    (At first I thought I was supposed to include form 21-22a with the application but have since learned not to do that.)
    Physician Statement (I have learned that I should have done form 21-2680, but I was given a form titled “Physician’s Report for Residential Care for the Elderly (RCFE) by the ALF so I’m crossing my fingers on that one.)

    There are other VA forms I printed out while reading through the threads, but I’m not sure what else I should include.

    Questions about application form 21-534.
    1. Item 17 and 18 asks for telephone numbers and email address. (I would prefer to put only my information here because my MIL can get confused.) Would that be okay because I will include the 21-0845-authorization form?
    2. Item 32a asks “Are you now in a nursing home?” I have read conflicting information on this. Cross out nursing home and write-in assisted living facility and answer “yes.” Other information said to answer “no” to nursing home but write in that you live in an ALF. What’s best?
    3. In Section VII where it deals with net worth—this is such a confusing area about what the VA accepts, but the clarification that would be helpful to me is that you report your financial condition as of the date of the application. Is this correct?
    4. In Section VIII that deals with monthly income and expected annual income, I’m confused.
    Monthly Income
    38a. I assume you would put the gross amount of the SSA amount, not the net after deductions for Medicare insurance deducts. Correct?
    38g. Other income received monthly—Would this be only cash actually received per month that is deposited in your account that is regular amounts, or are you supposed to try to figure out things like interest income from money market accounts and small stock holdings?
    39a-d that deals with expected annual income—Would the best way to deal with this section be to estimate based on the previous year’s activity? Stock accounts are unpredictable.
    5. Section IX about medical, last illness, burial or other unreimbursed expenses is totally confusing for me. In our situation, my MIL will be contributing her total income per month of approx. $1,000 towards her ALF cost of $4,700 and hopefully the VA benefit of $1,056 per month will be received and the balance of the cost will be contributed by the family. I’ve read that money paid by the family to the facility is not considered income for the claimant, but it does reduce the amount of unreimbursed medical expenses to report. Guidance on this please.

    Thank you,
  2. jpez

    jpez Full Member

    question 2. This question is a trigger. If you are in a nursing home for REHABILITATION, the answer is NO.
    If you are in an assited living , the answer is NO.

    THe nursing home question triggers the $90 monthly benefit.
    A nursing home is NOT an assited living. By trying to force your interpretation on the question you are asking for a delay. The note on the side actually is clear. If you are NOt in a NH then you need the Doc note explaining your disabilities.

    Question 3. Net worth is the value at time of application. It really cant be anything else. 2 months back? 1 yr back? there is no policy for asking for any think else.

    question 4. the first line of the instructions says: report the TOTAL amount before deduction...
    so all income is GROSS, not the amount deposited.
    38g is not for interest earned on accounts. 39b is.

    Question 39 ONLY applies if somebody has a job or recieves farm income soraticly. The monthly entries in 38 are considered as ongoing thru the next 12 months in 38. don't duplicate in 39. you do use 39B to report interst and dividends. As a note I have had the most problem when reporting 1% earned interest. They sent it back twice!!!!!. THE va ASSUMES - GET THIS 3%!!!!!

    question 5. there is alot of explination on the form because the form is used for a lot of different situations. focus on just your MIL. 1. IGNORE ANY POTENTIAL AWARD. it does not matter in this section. SHe is paying 97 for medicare part B and 903 for her assited living. that's it.

    good luck
  3. Max

    Max Hero Member

    Stating that she is in a nursing home does not trigger the $90 rate, it would just indicate that we would not need to do a rating decision to grant A&A. The $90 rate only kicks in if it is a nursing home and is covered by Medicaid.

    As far as the cost for the medical expenses go, if you do what I suggested earlier in that you have a joint bank account with her and report the full amount. The only time that a family member helping pay for the expenses causes a problem would be if there was an accrued claim issue (let's hope that doesn't happen).

    Other than that, I think you're on track!
  4. pattyclarke

    pattyclarke Newbie

    Thanks jpez and Max. I'm still "chewing" on the information (slow digestive system), but I'd like a little more clarification. Max when you say the only problem with a family member helping to pay expenses would be if there was an accrued claim issue. I'm not familiar with that term, but I'm assuming it means that she passed away before the pension was granted. If that would be the case, then she would be in heaven dancing with the angels and the family would have no need to pursue unpaid benefits. So is that what an accrued claim issue is? I want to make sure I understand the joint bank account deal. We would open up a new checking account with the MIL and a family member that her SSA checks would be direct deposited to and the family will deposit money in that account that is not considered income to make up the difference needed to pay the ALF. MIL will write check for full amount.

  5. jpez

    jpez Full Member

    I realllyyyyy don't understand the 'Joint account think". Why would creat some elaborate scheme when the truth works perfectly well (at least for the last 3 yrs).
    When family members pay,they pay. the facility gets two checks. one from mom and one from the family member.

    I don't understand why the VA 'recreates' systems.
    first, any money deposited into an account with moms name is concidered income under all other programs. so (while you may not care now) you could be setting yourself up for a fall in the future. Which is exactly what everybody complains about w/ the third party buggymen!
    second, someone can deduct paying for mom's care on their taxes. They can't deduct GIVING mom income.
    third, joint accounts create a liability to the new person. If the new person is sued, then that joint account is sucked in to the lawsuit. But fourth why can't the rules and instructions be followed? Could the instructions not be any more clear on the form?
    report ONLY nonreimbursed expenses.

    Max, you want to report people who follow the code on gifting
    You want people with an opinion on the size of government not ot file a claim
    and now you are suggesting that someone disrgard the instructions!!

    I have a great idea, there is a federal agency that draws almost as much ire as the Va....the IRS. But at least w/ the IRS the client can hire a professional to help file. Why don't you break that rule and tell you supervisors that the RIGHT think to do is allow us to hire proffessionals and not have to slink around on the internet to try to understand the ever changing rules.
  6. KarenO

    KarenO Jr. Member

    "second, someone can deduct paying for mom's care on their taxes. They can't deduct GIVING mom income"

    I looked into this last year when I was doing my taxes and was told I can't deduct for expenses I paid for my mom's care. Can you point me in the right direction to the IRS publication or something? Thanks.
  7. vbcoder

    vbcoder Jr. Member

    This is not a "definitive answer", but from all that I can find out is that she has to be a dependant of yours in order to count her expenses on your taxes.
  8. pattyclarke

    pattyclarke Newbie

    jpez said, "I have a great idea, there is a federal agency that draws almost as much ire as the Va....the IRS. But at least w/ the IRS the client can hire a professional to help file. Why don't you break that rule and tell you supervisors that the RIGHT think to do is allow us to hire proffessionals and not have to slink around on the internet to try to understand the ever changing rules."

    jpez, I respect and appreciate your knowledge that you share with people on this forum to help them. What bothers me is when you pick on Max. He is an employee of the VA who contributes to this forum on his own time out of the goodness of his heart, and certainly doesn't have the authority to change this messed up system. jpez, could you please not make this personal against Max? Thank you for your consideration.

  9. magnumpi28

    magnumpi28 Jr. Member

    I can understand jpez fustration with the VA and its nightmare. When i applied i called the VA and asked should my mom file on her first husband who served 20 plus years or her second husband that only served 6 months?
    The Va Rep said i could file on either but should go ahead and file on the first one because he had more service time.
    Four months later im getting a deniel letter from the VA. Had i not talked with Debbie i would have thought it was the end because they didnt mention to reapply on the second husband.
    To make a long story short I should have filed on the second husband. This bad information the VA cost me about 5,000 dollars worth of benifets when all was said and done.
    I dont remember the exact number but i think some bad information from the VA cost Debbie over 100,000 dollars!!
    So trust me, I completly understand jpez fustration toward the VA.
    However, with that said, Max is a great guy and helps a lot of people on here and I think jpez knows that. While they may never become drinking buddies jpez is just fustrated with the VA in general like a lot of us on here are and im sure does not blame Max for the messed up VA.
    One more thing, the VA apears to be getting a little better and a little faster with a few recent changes so while they may have a long way to go at least its a step in the right direction.

    Patty, As far as your aplication make sure the VA recieves it by the end of this month NOT in May because the month you apply is not counted....Someone can correct me if im wrong on this.
  10. pattyclarke

    pattyclarke Newbie


    I can empathize with your pain and others with the VA system, although I don't yet have any personal experience because I haven't filed yet. The point I was trying to make was that Max isn't responsible for how screwed up the system is, and just happened to stumble across this forum where he extended himself on his own time to try to help. It probably doesn't matter at this point, because I don't believe Max will be back to the forum to contribute. A HUGE LOSS IMO.

  11. KarenO

    KarenO Jr. Member

    Thank you Vcoder - I did a little research and and I believe that is the case. I don't think my mother would qualify as my dependent since I don't provide more than half of her support.

    I hope Max stays - he is a huge help. I too don't understand the personal attacks against him.
  12. jpez

    jpez Full Member

    "A parent may be claimed as a dependent if the following applies:
    1) The child provides more than 50% of the parent’s support
    2) The parent must not have gross income (note: not counting SS or Pension) in excess
    of the exemption amount ($3,000 )
    3) The parent must not file a joint return
    4) The parent must be a U.S. citizen or a resident of the U.S., Canada, or Mexico.
    As long as the above requirements are met, the parent does not have to live with the child to qualify as a dependent. Qualified long-term care expenses counts as support. If the support test can be met by more than one person (siblings for example) a multiple support agreement can be filed with the Internal Revenue Service. The person receiving the exemption must have provided at least 10% of the support.
    An unmarried child can file as a head of household if he or she is entitled to claim a dependency exemption for their parent. Filing as a head of household is more favorable than filing as a single taxpayer. Generally, to qualify as head of household, one must have paid more than half the cost of maintaining a home for themselves and a qualifying relative for more than half the year. However, when a parent is the qualifying relative, the child must pay more than half the cost of maintaining a home that was the principal home for the parent for the entire year. Therefore, if a child pays for more than half the cost of an assisted living facility for their parent, it is considered maintaining a principal home.
    If a parent qualifies as a dependent as discussed above, a child can add any medical expenses incurred for their parent to their own when determining a medical expense deduction.
    In conclusion, The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 made significant changes for taxpayers incurring long-term care expenses in non-traditional healthcare facilities. It is incumbent upon the taxpayer and their families to be aware of these changes and to benefit from them."

    If your mom’s income is SS 1000 and VA Pension 1000 then she has 2,000 a month. If the bill is $4700 then someone is paying 2700.
    The SS and the VA DO NOT count as INCOME for point #2
    please read the green section if several sibling are paying together.
    The much better route if there are multiple siblings is to have the sibling that would benefit the most from the additional deduction.
  13. Dori928

    Dori928 Newbie

    According to IRS Pub 502, a person CAN deduct medical expenses of a "Qualifying Relative", even if that person is not a "dependent". So the parent's income limit of $3650 does not apply. What does matter is that the tax-payer provided over half of the support for the qualifying relative for the tax year. So if I pay more than half of mom's total support, I can deduct ALL of her medical expenses on my taxes. If you think this will help you, I strongly urge you to read Pub 502 in its entirely with highlighter in hand. It has saved me a bundle. $$$

    What is a Qualifying relative? Son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, parent, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, in-laws and on and on.....
  14. Dori928

    Dori928 Newbie


    If your mom’s income is SS 1000 and VA Pension 1000 then she has 2,000 a month. If the bill is $4700 then someone is paying 2700.
    The SS and the VA DO NOT count as INCOME for point #2

    Can you give me more detail on this? Are you saying that given the above situation, that the taxpayer can still claim the parent as a dependent, and file as head of household?
  15. jpez

    jpez Full Member

    yes, clearly.

    2700 is bigger than 2000 so it meets the more than 1/2 test.
  16. Dori928

    Dori928 Newbie

    OK, bear with me here. I am trying to understand. Even though my mother "received gross income of $3,650 or more", I can still claim her as a dependent and me as head of household if I paid more than half of her expenses?

    I guess I am getting hung up on the definition of "dependent". The four tests for a person to be a dependent as a qualifying relative are:

    1. Not a qualifying child [yes:mother]
    2. Member of household or relationship test [yes:mother]
    3. Gross income test (must be less than $3,650 for 2009) [no]
    4. Support test.(more than half) [yes]

    My understanding therefore is that since Mom's gross is $27k, I cannot claim her as a dependent, but I can deduct her medical expenses.

    Is this your understanding? I appreciate your asssistance.
  17. jpez

    jpez Full Member

    I have no idea!
    what are you calling gross income???
    Go read the code.
    You are asking for tax advise. The simple example was given to illustrate that SS and VA A&A are NOT counted in gross income. But I have no idea where your mother's income is from.....pension, 401k, interest etc.
    Just like there is a list of items that can be deducted for VA purposes, the tax code has a list for income. THe point of explaning it was so that families realize that there are more benefits than A&A. You need to go to the IRS site to get specific info.
  18. Dori928

    Dori928 Newbie

    You make a good point about the IRS definition of "gross income". I will look that up. thanks.
  19. jpez

    jpez Full Member

    I just reread my post......didnt mean to seem 'pointed'.
    Lord only knows what the IRS counts as GROSS income. I just know that most seniors and their children NEVER use this easy deduction because they think that the SS or the VA count as income. And they don't! The vast majority of seniors ONLY have SS so their children are missing a very easy tax break.

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