Dad Recommended for Benefits

Discussion in 'Share Your Personal Experience' started by Marp, Dec 21, 2011.

  1. Marp

    Marp Jr. Member

    We sent my dad's completed application to the Milwaukee pension center on October 18, 2011.

    Yesterday my mom received a phone call from the assisted living where my dad lives saying she had received a call from analyst handling the claim. The analyst told the assisted living that it looks like he only pays $1900 to live there and, on his income, he can afford that. He can afford $1900. The problem is the assisted living charges are $4000/month. The assisted living director explained the charges on the phone, but the analyst said she had to write a letter detailing the charges and have my dad sign it.

    My dad has Alzheimer's and really shouldn't be signing paperwork anymore so the director called my mom, read the letter to her, and asked if it was okay for my dad to sign it. My mom said that was fine - the VA doesn't recognize her Power of Attorney so dad has to sign the letter even though he doesn't know what it means. My mom said someone would probably need to write my dad's name on a piece of paper so he could copy it in the signature section of the letter because he doesn't always remember how to spell his name.

    This morning, my mom receive a phone call from the VA analyst saying the misunderstanding about the charges was cleared up and he was recommending my dad for benefits. He said it usually takes about 10 business days for the letter to arrive. With the holidays looming, we expect it may be a bit longer than that and with the complications in my dad's situation (he receives military retirement for 20 years of service as well as disability compensation with a 40% rating), we fully expect the award will be wrong the first time and we'll have to contact the VA for corrections. However, we're very happy that we may be coming to a positive conclusion in such a short time.

    Thank you to everyone who provided support & answers to questions! Once we have the final award & I have some time, I'll post some things we learned from our experience.
  2. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    Well this is great news, and I'm sorry that with the demands of the site, the holidays, and my first grandchild being born, I am late in commenting here.

    Keep in mind that the amount of the 40% "compensation" will go away with the award of A&A as you cannot draw both if not rated by the VA at 100%.

    Glad you were able to get the proper fee information changed, and you may need to make some adjustments with the VA, but the best part is you got through the process and your Dad will get what he deserves.
  3. hoffjeff

    hoffjeff Newbie

    Marp - please post more about your experience as it sounds similar to what we are expecting.
  4. Marp

    Marp Jr. Member

    My parents received their award letter on December 30, 2011 explaining how much my dad would receive and when he would receive it.

    The letter indicated that the VA would stop paying his service connected disability on Jan 1, 2012 (he can't receive both service connected disability and A & A).

    January 1, 2012 came and went but the VA did NOT stop paying his service connected disaibility. Instead, they paid it, not once, but TWICE.

    My parents received a letter from the VA a couple of days ago saying that one of those payments (not both)had been paid in error and that he has to send it back - he can either call & pay it on a credit card or he can mail a check.

    My mother had expected that dad would have to pay back the money so she set it aside & didn't spend it. She is sending a check in the next day or two for the one payment.

    At some point, the VA will realize they sent dad two payments that he shouldn't get and want the money back for the second payment. We'll see how long it takes for them to get that right.

    The award letter also said they would send the initial payment within 15 days and subsequent payments would be direct deposited on or around the first of each month. We haven't seen that initial payment yet and don't expect to anytime soon. We expect the first payment will not come until the first of February, at the earliest.
  5. Marp

    Marp Jr. Member

    Hoffjeff requested I post updates, so here it is:

    On February 1, the VA deposited the correct A & A amount into my parents' account. This is good news!

    The bad news is that his military retirement is now messed up.

    My father formerly received Disability Compensation for a 40% disability rating due to a service connected injury. Now that he receives A & A, he loses the Disability Compensation, and the VA and the Dept of Defense have correctly taken that away.

    What they haven't done, is restore his military retirement pay to it's full amount. Because dad's disability rating is less than 40%, his military retirement was reduced dollar for dollar by the Disability Compensation, but, now that he receives A & A, he no longer receives Disability Compensation and shouldn't. Furthermore, dad's eligibility for A & A, according to the letter he received from the VA, was based on him receiving his full military retirement. If they're going to base his A & A eligibility on full military retirement, he ought to receive his full military retirement.

    Mom wants to wait until the March payments come in to see if that's corrected. If not, I'll be calling the VA. Dad signed the appropriate form allowing the VA to talk to me.
  6. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    A&A is not based on military retirement, so yes, you will need to follow up after the March check if it has not been sorted out correctly.
  7. Marp

    Marp Jr. Member

    The March payment came through and dad's military retirement is still not correct.

    My mom had a phone apointment today with the VA to discuss this, but they wouldn't talk with her because she's not the person listed to talk to them. I had told her that would probably be the case.

    So, I called and, of course, got the "set up an appointment" message. I did set up an appointment, just so I have it, but I'm continuing to call the pension hotline to get information.

    In the meantime, I decided to call the regular VA 800 number. It took awhile, but I got through. Unfortunately, the woman I talked with was not much help. Because I'm the person my dad indicated could talk with the VA, they would talk with me. However the woman said they are only a call center and she can't see whether the VA ever told the Dept of Defense that my dad's retirement pay should be restored to the full amount because he no longer receives the Service-Connected Disability Compensation. She said I would have to call DFAS (it's an acronym for the department that handles military retirement).

    I called DFAS who said they could talk to me if I have Power of Attorney, which I do. They said, though, that they can't change anything on his retirement account, unless I am appointed by a court as dad's guardian, conservator, or fiduciary. Unlike the VA, the Department of Defense doesn't have it's own process for fiduciaries.

    I told them this was silly - the VA has one process; Social Security has another process, and the Department of Defense has yet anothr. And the Department of Defense requires court action which can take months, I guess, and cost buckets of money. They're all federal government, but they all do things differently which makes things extremely and unnecessarily complicated for families trying to take care of their loved ones. I understand the need ffor a process to prevent abuse, but, for their to be a multitude of different process is ridiculous.

    She just arrogantly reiterated her process. Of course, if pressed, she wouldn't be able to tell me what part of the law allows that. So I hung up. If we decide we need info from them, we'll send the POA.

    Why a Power of Attorney isn't good enough is beyond me. Why have them if you still have to use other processes?
  8. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    Sorry for the frustration, but also believe it is obvious as to why each has a different process. If there is anyway to keep one running around in a circle, this would prove to be a fine example!
  9. Marp

    Marp Jr. Member

    So true. I can deal with it. Don't like it much, but I can deal with it. My mother, OTOH, is a mess.

    I called the pension center in Milwaukee multipled times before finally getting through to a humanoid. When I explained what I needed, he said, "that's handled through the pension and annuity center. Let me give you their number."

    I told him I had already spoken to that department and they told me to call the VA. He then did some digging and found that the office in Cleveland was working on the issue. The Cleveland office is the office that handles Service-Connected disability for Michigan. Once the Pension Center in Milwaukee awarded the Aid and Attendance, they contacted the Cleveland office to tell them that my dad is no longer eligible for Service-Connected Disability. The Cleveland office, then, is supposed to be contacting the Pension and Annuity center (DFAS) to advise them that dad no longer receives Service-Connected Disability Compensation and that his military retirement pay should be restored to the full amount.

    He then gave me the 800 # for the Cleveland office (it's the regular VA 800 #. Yippee!). I called them and left a request for a call back.

    Round and round she goes. Where she stops..... nobody knows!
  10. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    Let's hope this Merry-go-Round gets unplugged at some point!

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