Discussion in 'Share Your Personal Experience' started by NANAPATOK, Aug 29, 2011.


    NANAPATOK Newbie

    I found this site while looking for assistance for my sister who has moved in with my dad and is his full-time caregiver. My dad is a WWII Vet, and my sisters and I promised him he would never have to go to a nursing home. I cannot tell you how much you all have helped!
    I gathered information from this site, got all my paperwork together, completed the fillable forms online, made copies and saved a file to my computer, put everything into a small binder with tabs...this helped me get organized, and mailed it "Certified Return Receipt". I wrote a Cover Letter and stated the items enclosed:
    VA Form 21-526 Application for Pension
    Copy of Discharge Documents (Notorized)
    VA Form 21-2680 Physicians Report
    Care Expense Statement
    VA Form 21-8416 Medical Expense Report
    Social Security Award Letter
    Retirement Statement
    Prescription Invoice

    6-17-2011 Mailed "Intent To File" Form
    8-10-2011 Received notification that application was received at the St. Paul Pension Center on August 5th, 2011.
    8-16-2011 Received acknowledgement of receipt of application and informed that they were in the process of deciding whether additional evidence or information was needed and that it might take a long time because they were busy and had many applications.
    8-27-2011 Received Notification of Award of "Aid & Attendance"

    I can tell you there were tears and a Happy Dance when my sister and I opened the mail...after we got over the shock, of course!
    There was an application and instructions to apply for 12 month retroactive pension and, I assure you, I will be doing that immediately. VA disqualified un-reimbursed prescription co-pays because they said they could not reasonably consider them a continuing medical expense even though I did send in a Prescription Invoice. I know from the information I've gotten on this site to send those in with the first EVR Form I file. They also did not approve from the time I sent in the "Intent To File" Form but from the time they received the actual application August 5th. I may be able to include that on the EVR Form also and request they consider that date as the original.
    Because of this site my dad will not have to go to a nursing home and my sister can live with him and be his full-time caregiver. Thanks so much!!!
  2. Caroliso

    Caroliso Jr. Member

    Congrats, Nana, am doing the happy dance right along with you!

    I do know that in most cases the retro part is held up until a fiduciary is appointed by the VA, but I would think that would be mentioned in the award letter. Debbie and the other experts will weigh in on this.

    NANAPATOK Newbie

    Congrats on your approval, also! My dad has Parkinson's, but is mentally sharp...he's playing Solitaire on the Xoom right he doesn't need a feduciary.
  4. Marp

    Marp Jr. Member

    Congratulations to you! And what a relief!

    What VA office did you work with? That's certainly an amazing office if they were able to process the information that quickly.

    NANAPATOK Newbie

    We are in Oklahoma, so we used the St. Paul Center. I took my folder to the local VSO before mailing just to check and make sure everything was correct, and she said it was perfect. The only thing she did was make a copy of the original Discharge Certificate and stamp, sign, and date it verifying that she had seen the original.
  6. Marp

    Marp Jr. Member

    Drat! I was hoping my dad's claim would go through the same center as yours, but, nope. We need to go through the Milwaukee center. Oh well. Hopefully, Milwaukee will be reasonably quick, once we send all of the required information.


    NANAPATOK Newbie

    I don't know that it matters which Center so much as having all the correct forms and information and everything filled out correctly. I did the fillable forms on the computer, because it looks so neat and is easy to change things and then print copies...then you can save everything to a file on your computer. I made sure I sent in everything required and they said they didn't need further information. I also made sure I supplied all the forms so they wouldn't have to send off for the Discharge Certificate or request further info from Social Security or anything. I did use a small binder and tabs...don't know if that made any difference to them, but it made it easier for me to organize everything and double check to make sure I had everything. I wrote a Cover Letter and listed everything I had included and wrote a Caregiver Contract and included a "Request For Inhome Care" Form (to have it certified as an on-going, un-reimbursed expense) for my dad and sister and made sure to include an "Authorization to Disclose Information to a 3rd Party", my sister. Hope everything goes quickly and smoothly for you!
  8. maralina1

    maralina1 Full Member

    Did you send proof of caregiver payments or just a caregiver statement?

    NANAPATOK Newbie

    They didn't ask for cancelled checks or bank statements. I sent in the Caregiver Contract and a Request For In-Home Care that asks that the care expense be considered as a recurring medical expense. I also listed the expense on the 21-526 Application on Page 9 as a Medical Expense and in the 21-8416 Medical Expense Report. Since it states several places that it is illegal to give false information, I assume that is considered enough for now.
  10. I sent my Dad's to Milwaukee on July 16th. Still haven't received any communication. I just called to check on the status and was told that the "developement phase" is at 118 days for the Milwaukee center. When I had called last month, it was at 95 days.

    NANAPATOK Newbie

    From what I've read on here, three months is actually a pretty short time. At least it will be retroactive and you'll get a big check all at once. I can tell you, it's really, really exciting to go to the mailbox and find that packet with their info saying you've been approved! I mailed off the request for 12 months prior benefits on the 1st, so I'm anxiously awaiting to hear back on that. Best of luck to you and hoping for a speedy decision!!!
  12. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    Keep in mind that it generally takes 21 days just to get info put into their system, and as the increase in demand for this pension keeps going up it adds to the time.

    Don't get discouraged that you havent' heard anything. This is not a fast process, and for those who have gotten through in such a short amount of time are not the average experience.

    Patience and persistance are key in this process.
  13. Marp

    Marp Jr. Member

    It shouldn't take 21 days for a data entry clerk to enter the data into the system. The length of time it takes to get these processed is unacceptable, in my opinion; our veterans and their spouses deserve more respect than that.

    Those of us going through the process right now have to tolerate the poor service, but we can influence the process for future applicants. If your claim takes an inordinate amount of time (and Debbie has mentioned some guidelines as to what is a long time), then feel free to contact your elected representatives to make them aware. The VA, like all arms of the federal bureaucracy, needs to be more accountable. We the people don't directly elect bureaucrats, but we elect the people who appoint them and who approve their budgets. By holding our elected representatives accountable for the type of bureaucracies we have, we can eventually make the bureaucracies accountable.

    I know that a number of elected officials are already aware of the problems in the VA system and the House Committee on Veterans Affairs has asked the VA to provide information on how the VA plans to improve the service the VA provides to our veterans and their families. This is a start, but true improvement is only going to occur if citizens keep the pressure on.

    To paraphrase a recent comment by my congressman, "some elected officials won't move until their constituents move; when the constituents move, they'll move."

    We may have to navigate an inefficient system right now, but we don't have to take it lying down.

  14. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    I have been to Washington to meet with Senators as well as the Veteran's Senate Committee bringing this issue to their attention, as well as asking for a Bill to be put before Congress. Guess how much anyone has been willing to do over the last two years? No matter how you add it up, it still would be a zero.

    It will take a nation to force accountability for our veterans as our government and the VA are not going to do it.
  15. Marp

    Marp Jr. Member

    You are right that it will take a nation.

    Sometimes our elected officials do act, but they don't pay enough attention to act responsibly. As an example, a bill recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives that, according to the summary, would improve the appeals process for veterans disability compensation claims. My congressman voted "no" because, in his opinion, the bill, as written, would actually make things worse. For one, he said that it would discourage claimants from submitting properly documented claims initially. And we all know that, if information is missing or unclear, the VA has to request the information and you have to send it, all of which takes extra time. There were other things in the bill that he felt would make the situation worse instead of better.

    His vote was a good vote, but it won't look that way come the next election. He will likely be labelled as someone who doesn't appreciate our veterans because he voted "no" on a bill that appeared to help but didn't. The congressmen/women who voted "yes" will look like heroes, even if they voted "yes". The bill doesn't help, but the title makes it sound like it helps so it may pass both houses and be signed into law by the president.

    Of course, if our elected representatives would READ bills before voting, these things might not happen.

    Well, probably time for me to get off my soapbox. I hope I haven't offended anyone, but I felt it was important to point out that we can & should try to influence the current system. We have to work within it for now, but, if enough of us squawk, we can change it.

  16. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    I stay on a soapbox, and I think anyone here who has or is still fighting this battle would understand.

    NANAPATOK Newbie

    Until the first check was actually deposited October 1st, we just couldn't believe it would really happen. I sent in an informal "Intent to File" claim on June 17th, but the benefit was awarded beginning August 1st when the St. Paul Pension Center received the application. Debbie and Fit2009 told me to wait until the first check was deposited before doing anything, so I waited and sent in a Form 21-4138 thanking them for deciding our claim so quickly and asking that they correct the date to June 17th when I mailed the "intent to File" and included a copy of the original form I had sent in as proof of the informal claim. On September 1st I also sent in the EVR 21-0516-1, the Medical Expense Form 21-8416, and the Physician's Report Form 21-2680 in order to be considered for prior entitlement for 1 year. On September 12th, I received the usual form letter stating VA was reviewing the claim. The only thing, perhaps unusual, is that we also received the exact same form letter again on September 14th. We will just wait now and see what develops in regard to the 2-month benefits retroactive for July and August and the 12-month prior benefits.
  18. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    Glad that you got the first check, and the important thing is that the pension has started now. Hope they will review and make a decision in a timely manner, and be sure to let us know how it turns out.
  19. nholdlady

    nholdlady Newbie

    Hi NANAPATOC' could you please tell me what you used for the request for inhome care form? and how do you have it certified as an on-going, un-reimburesed expense?

    NANAPATOK Newbie

    I am attaching a copy of the Request for In-Home Care Form. I don't know if it is important to send it in or not, but the VA representative I had check over my application gave it to me, and I figured it couldn't hurt. The part saying it is certified as an ongoing expense is one of the statements on the form. Good luck to you! Pat

    Attached Files:

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