Crisis for my Dad

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by tishy, Jun 5, 2009.

  1. tishy

    tishy Newbie

    Hi, I have been fortunate to get advice from you before, and we really need it now. My Dad, who is an 85 year old WW II veteran, qualified for A&A benefits in approx. July, 2007 and has been receiving a monthly pension since then. His health is such that he lives at an assisted living facility and the medical need for this was well documented and the VA agreed and approved the benefit. My parents (my Mom has passed away) never had much and he only has his Social Security payment and a small monthly disability payment that he gets from a VA insurance policy (he is not service-connected; he bought a VA life ins. policy upon discharge and opted for a disability plan, which he ended up needing as he had to stop working in his fifties due to health isssues). Earlier this year, we had to submit his EVR and we did so in early February. He received a return receipt card from the VA (the Pension office in Philadelphia). We called several times to ask about the status beacuse we actually had hopes that they would increase his monthly penion due to the fact that his medical costs (including the assisted living) well exceed his monthly income. Each time we called (February, March, April) they told us that it takes many months for the paperwork to be reviewed, so we decided to stop calling and wait. In the meantime, he was continuing to receive the monthly A&A pension. My Dad just called me tonight and he is beside himself. The VA sent a letter saying that he had failed to respond to their requests (That he did not receive) for information about his increase in net worth (?) and that they are going to make him repay the money he has received, that if he can prove other wise, he has until Dec. 2009 to do so but it will be viewed as a new claim! We are stunned by this turn of events. The only thing I can think that they are questioning is the fact that his bank account has more in it than when he applied (believe me, far less than the $80,000 that what we thought was the VA threshold), and this is due to the fact that his manufactured home finally sold. It wasn't worth very much and this money is now being used to help pay his living expenses. As I said, his Assisted living expenses are more than his A&A benefit and his social security. To complicate matters further, he is 400 miles away from here. He relocated to an Assisted living near my brother because it was $3,000 less per month than the one he had been in near me. For now, our plan is for my Dad to fax the letter to me on Monday morning and then I'll call the VA, patch my Dad in to the call, and hope that we can speak to someone who can help us. This is so frightening. It could also disrupt his prescriptions, which he gets through the VA (insulin, etc). Can you offer any advice? The other thing that I was thinking is going to our Senator Schumer's office for help. By the way, I should mention that my Dad sent information to the VA office in NY in April, 2008, for which we received a return receipt card acknowledging that they got it, only for them to tell us that they never received it. That paperwork included a form that my Dad signed to authorize me to speak to the VA in his behalf. They have yet to acknowledge it (wonder if that submission was part of the pile that was shredded) and other VA people at the call center have told me that the form we sent was the wrong one. How aggravating this all is! What a rotten thing to do to an elderly veteran. How dare they! Anyway, thank you one and all for any direction you can give us.
     
  2. Fit2009

    Fit2009 Sr. Member

    What happened to you happens to a lot of people. If you have an increase in Net Worth, you have an obligation to report that increase to the VA within 30 days, if you don't they are allowed to assume that the increase occured the first day of the fiscal year and ask for the money back or stop the award or garnish the award. The receipient is not allowed to make the determination themselves in whether it is a material increase or not. The sale of his primary residence was a reportable event.

    I suggest you write a letter to the VA on a Statement in Support of Claim, stating that you received their letter dated X, ref Y and that you are very sorry that you did not realize the sale of your primary home was a reportable event. You could state that because your assets did not exceed $80k (AND even better if they did not exceed the amount he had when he first applied) at the time of the sale, it did not even occur to you to report it but in an effort to rectify the situation, you are going to report Net Worth from the point of the sale of the house through this month.


    Then on a separate piece of paper, create a chart like this:

    Date Net Worth Sale of House Monthly Medical Expenses Other Expenses Ending Net Worth
    Beg of month including ALF
    house sold $$ $$ $$ $$ $$

    Next Month $$ $$ $$

    And so on.

    Tishy, the fact of the matter is that the sale of the house may have resulted in his being over asset but the fact that he did not report it made him out of compliance. They have been known to accept the apology and re-instate, but if it put him over, he is not eligible until his assets are in line again. Therefore, each month from now until he gets the award, you should send in an State in Support of Claim stating my Net Worth is now $________, please update my file and review my claim with the new Net Worth numbers.

    Good luck,
    Let us know how it works out!
     
  3. tishy

    tishy Newbie

    Thank you for the explanation. I had no idea that the sale of his home was reportable at that point. I will proceed as you recommend and hope that my lack of understanding won't be held against him, especially since he truly needs the VA A&A benefit. I'll prepare the letter for my father's signature and I think I'll send one with it saying that this is my fault and please don't punish him. I'll report back to this Forum when I have an update. Thanks, again, for your time and interest in these issues.
     
  4. Fit2009

    Fit2009 Sr. Member

    Hi Tishy,
    Unless you are his fiduciary, you shouldn't write anything from your point of view, they only recognize the veteran. I think him saying he didn't realize he should have reported the sale will be fine.
     
  5. tishy

    tishy Newbie

    I'm not his fiduciary. I'll take your advice and I won't include a letter from me. Thanks.
     
  6. tishy

    tishy Newbie

    Re: Crisis for my Dad *UPDATE*

    Hi everyone, I prepared the forms (as instructed by the VA) for my Dad and submitted them to the VA via express mail. The forms included financial info. as well as the statement in support of claim, in which my Dad apologized for not reporting the sale of his house when it occurred last year. He stated in the narrative and also in the cover letter that he is so grateful for the A&A benefit and would never intentionally jeopardize it, as we accidently did when we failed to report the sale of the house. The financial form and the narrative both discuss his limited assets and ask that his pension be reinstated. Approximately 10 days ago, someone called him from the VA - Philadelphia Pension office. They had received the paperwork. She asked my father some questions about his medical expenses and also for the phone number of the assisted living facility to confirm the monthly fees. The woman was polite to my Dad. Unfortunately, he didn't think to ask for her name or phone number. He told her that he will have to leave the assisted living facility if the VA doesn't reinstate the A&A pension. She responded by saying something like she didn't think it would come to that, and we hope that is a positive sign. We sent a complete set of forms and cover letter to the congressional district office where my father lives and they are going to politely follow up with the VA in early July.
    Thanks, again for your help and advice. My Dad is very appreciative that you have established a forum to help veterans like him. Happy Independence Day to you all! I'll report back soon, hopefully with good news.
     
  7. tishy

    tishy Newbie

    Another Update (I forgot to mention): This past Friday, my father received a separate letter from a VA office in minnesota, outlining the ways that my father can repay them. He has 30 days to respond. We're hoping to have some good news before then as what he "owes" is approximately all he has to his name. This is really taking a toll on him...
     
  8. Fit2009

    Fit2009 Sr. Member

    Do not miss your 30 day window, you need to file for a hardship forgiveness of the debt as there was no intent and if the sale of the home did not put him over the assets he is allowed to have, they should forgive it - do not make the mistake of thinking you don't need to answer just becasue you are appealing the decision.
     
  9. tishy

    tishy Newbie

    Hi Friends, Thought I'd give you an update. Took your advice and wrote to the Minnesota VA Debt Collection office. My father's letter said that his situation is a hardship and that he cannnot repay the debt and that he disputes that he owes anything at all. He also attached the info that was sent to Philadelphia (Form 5655, which Minnesota also wanted -- and Statement in Support of Claim). My Dad and I called Philadelphia again this past Monday. The woman we spoke with said that his file was sent to the Adjudication Team on July 7. She said that she would have no way of knowing how soon the Adjudication Team will make a decision, but she seemed to think that the reveiw was being expedited. My Dad and I will call again on July 27. In the meantime, we're keeping our fingers crossed... Thanks, again, for your help and suggestions.
     
  10. tishy

    tishy Newbie

    Hi everyone - I'm just writing to say that my Dad hasn't heard anything from the Philadelphia Pension Office re: his request for reinstatement. We've called a few times to ask for updates and to request that his review be expedited. We've been told that his file is in the hands of the Adjudication Team and that it got there on July 7th. We were also told that the AT is the last step in the process before a Supervisor (who is also on the AT) reviews and signs off on the AT's decision. When we called two weeks ago, the VA person we spoke to said to call in 10 business days. We waited 2 weeks (August 7th) and were told that we probably won't hear anything for "... a couple of months." I asked if that means October, and she said probably by then. Please let me know if you have any suggestions on how to speed things along, or if you think this is the standard waiting period. Thanks so much.
     

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