Denied benefit after mother's death

Discussion in 'Share Your Personal Experience' started by Kathy, Sep 22, 2007.

  1. Kathy

    Kathy Newbie

    I applied for the Aid and Attendance benefit as my mother (a surviving spouse of a deceased veteran) was entering an assisted living facility. She spent one month in assisted living, one month in a nursing home and then died on September 6, 2007. Her death came very suddenly, the result of vasular dementia. The VA received all of our information in early July and began the eligibility process. Obviously my mother died before they could inteview her, and I received a letter in the mail today saying she had been denied a claim because of death. Would it be worth my time to appeal for the benefits she should have received for the months of July and August? Thanks.
  2. veteranadvocate

    veteranadvocate Full Member


    I am so sorry to learn of your Mother's death. Our hearts and prayers go out to you and your family. I will attempt to address your question regarding her VA benefits. Here again the VA plays on wording and fail to provide information to veteran's families. DO NOT waste your time on an appeal because the VA is correct with their decision. HER claim stops at her death. That is the law and an appeal will not change their decision. BUT you can download the form at the following link and apply for what was due her at the time of her death.

    If you paid any of her funeral expenses and/or expenses of last sickness, you should be able to get reimbursed what was due her for those months. Be sure read the instructions attached to the 21-601 form. I don't have all of the details of your Mother's case but if the VA had everything needed to make a determination on her claim then you should be entitle.

    Don't be surprise that you may get someone from the VA that does not know this information. This information is contained in the following section of 38 CFR Section 3.1000. Let us know how it works out for you.

    I hope you will stay involved and help us to help others to not have to go through these issues with the VA. God Bless.
  3. Kathy

    Kathy Newbie

    Thanks so much for your prompt reply. I will do as you suggest and download the form. We did have expenses related to her burial, and the two months of benefits would help reimburse those costs. She had very limited financial resources and would have qualified easily, I believe. At least this was the opinion of the VA counsellor who took all the paperwork I prepared. My father (who was the vet) was in a nursing home 10 months before he died (10 years ago), and my parents never applied for any VA benefits. My mother said, "As long as we can take care of our bills, I don't want to bother anyone." I would just like to see them get something for his faithful service to his country.

  4. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member


    My sincere sympathies for the loss of your mom. I know this is a very difficult time, and I hope that we are able to be of some assistance in making this application to the VA for expenses.

    I wanted to share with you that the VA, who had approved my mom for A&A continued to delay her payments, and when she passed, they sent a letter stating that her file had been closed due to the fact she was deceased.

    They failed to mention in that letter that outstanding expenses could be covered by the party who had paid them. Had I not known that we were entitled to file againist her accrued benefit amount, the matter would have been considered closed.

    I filed and submitted the bills that were out of pocket expenses and received a check for that amount.

    I hope this offers some encouragement for your right to do so, and to have your fathers's "faithful" service to this country honored as it should be.

    With Deepest Condolances,
  5. Kathy

    Kathy Newbie

    Thank you for your most recent post. I apologize for the delay in responding. Our NEW computer broke down, and I had to wait until the weekend for my husband to bring home the one he uses for business.

    Before I begin the process to apply for the accrued benefits (2 months) for my mother, I do have a clarification question. I paid for last expenses at the funeral home, her month in assisted living, and her month in the nursing home out of her limited remaining funds in checking/savings. There was enough money to pay for these out of her account without me having to pay them myself.

    Can I still apply for the accrued benefits if I didn't pay for them out of my personal account? If she had remained alive, we obviously were going to use the A&A to help pay for her living expenses. At the high cost of assisted living/nursing home, she would have gone through her funds quickly; that's why the benefit would have helped to buy us some time before eventually going under Medicaid.

    If I have not clearly stated my question, please ask for further info. I just don't want to go through preparing all the paperwork if I'm headed down the wrong path.

    You provide such a wonderful service.

    Thank you,
  6. veteranadvocate

    veteranadvocate Full Member


    Review the instruction for the application at the following link.

    There seems to be a lot of open ends in the regulations and I would not want to give you wrong advise with the limit info available. Take care and good luck to you.
  7. Tork

    Tork Newbie

    I applied for A&A assistance for my mom, had the paperwork in on 4-07. I finally called and they would not talk to me, unless my mom said it was ok. She did that from the hospital, despite having a tube down her throat and trouble breathing from lung cancer.

    I got some story that her case was held up in the investigative process, and after that, 2 more steps remain which take about 2 months each. But by then I do believe my mom will have passed away (might be a mixed blessing in her case)

    So am I reading this right that when she dies, that is the end of the claim??? After all this time???

    BTW great site, great things you are doing, God Bless.
  8. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member


    I am so sorry for this heartache for you and your mom. You should not have to deal with this in addition to everything else that is going on.

    As far as the claim ending at the time of her passing, that will depend if there are any outstanding bills or costs associated with her burial. If the claim "would" have been approved, you may be entitled to file against her accrued benefit amount for those out of pocket expenses.

    Nothing with the VA ever seems to be a simple process or explanation, so if and when, please let us know and at that time we will do our best to advise you what options you may have.

    In the meantime, many prayers are with you.

    Thank you for your very kind words regarding the site and our efforts.
  9. veteranadvocate

    veteranadvocate Full Member

    Like most VA benefits, one thing depends on another. I do not want to confuse the issue by responding without all of the info. Was your Mother’s claim approved and not paid or was it still pending at the time of death? What was the last correspondence that your Mother received from the VA?

    Another injustice done by the VA is the fact that they do not tell veterans/widows that they can request their claim be expedited due to age (over 70); declining health; and/or financial hardship. The VA will not consider any of these issues if the claimant does not bring it to their attention and request that their claim be expedited. Like all other benefits, the veteran/widow loses out if they are not aware of what to apply for or know how to apply for them. Unfortunately, so many of the VA employees are not aware of their own policies and procedures.

    The VA has a form 21-22a that will allow the veteran/widow to act as their representative and the VA is suppose to provide that individual any and all information that would be provided directly to the veteran/widow. Most VA employees are not train or kept informed of these changes.

    Thank you for your kind remarks about the site. Debbie works hard at getting the word out. She is a strong advocate for our veterans and widows.

    The Veteran Advocate
  10. Tork

    Tork Newbie

    Her case is still pending. I got 12 pages on 2-5-08, looking for more evidence. Specifically, they wanted more info (bills, proof of payment) for her in house extra care (meal and med delivery at her assisted living)

    The guy who did the paperwork for and with me is a "finantial consultant" who told me to do the following
    Im hope this is right as the "financial consultant" seems to be no longer 'as interested' in our case since he knows her assetts are being spent down and I am now footing the extra bills and borrowing some to do that.

    OK I have printed out form 21-22a, just fill it out and send it in? Do I also send a letter asking them to expidite her case due to, financial and age and illness issues? Will this new paperwork slow down her case further?

    Thank you so much. btw I am a moderator on a motorsports forum so I know the work involved keeping a site running and answering questions. Also on a further side note, my wife and I adopted our 2 daughters from China, who are now 6 and 12. That is what is keeping me going! Being the sole care giver to my mom for the last 3 years has taken it's toll, as you people likely know.
  11. veteranadvocate

    veteranadvocate Full Member

    Her case is still pending. I got 12 pages on 2-5-08, looking for more evidence. Specifically, they wanted more info (bills, proof of payment) for her in house extra care (meal and med delivery at her assisted living)

    The guy who did the paperwork for and with me is a "financial consultant" who told me to do the following
    Standard stuff. All you need is to mail the VCAA NOTICE RESPONSE page. Have D...... sign
    and date it. And check the box, "I have no other information or evidence....".

    Did he review the latest letter from the VA? Normally his response would be correct but I don’t think so in your case. The reason for my concern is the fact that the VA is asking for info to reduce the countable income. The cost of in-home care can be used to reduce income and obtain more money from the VA. Without know exactly what was submitted to the VA, I am hesitant on providing any recommendations. Do you have a copy of what was submitted to the VA? If not you should see if the financial consultant has a copy. You should have a copy in case you need to file an appeal if the claim is denied.

    If you want to fax me a copy of the 2/5/2008 I will review it and provide you with a better response. See what you can find out about the original application.

    I’m hope this is right as the "financial consultant" seems to be no longer 'as interested' in our case since he knows her assets are being spent down and I am now footing the extra bills and borrowing some to do that.

    OK I have printed out form 21-22a, just fill it out and send it in? Do I also send a letter asking them to expedite her case due to, financial and age and illness issues? Will this new paperwork slow down her case further?

    This should not slow down the processing. Once you submit the 21-22a you will be able to call the VA Regional Office and get more detailed information.

    The Veteran Advocate
  12. Kathy

    Kathy Newbie


    Today in the mail I received a check for $976, one month's aid and attendance benefit for my deceased mother (widow of a WWII vet). Your website was invaluable in educating me about this benefit, walking me through the process of applying (while my mom was still alive) for A&A, and encouraging me to apply for the accrued benefit (after they sent me a letter denying her claim since she died less than 2 months after I applied).

    It's been almost a year since I began this process, but your encouragement and information gave me the patience to wade through the red tape.

    I do, however, want your advice on whether I should appeal for any additional funds. Their letter said that she became eligible on July 13, 2007 (the day I took all my filled-out documents to the VA office) and remained eligible until her death on September 6, 2007. With a check in the amount of $976, I'm assuming they gave her A&A for the month of August 2007. What about the days of July 13-July 31, 2007 and September 1-6, 2007 (the day of her death)?

    In your opinion, would it be worth my time and effort to appeal for additional benefits for those few days? It's not that I'm ungrateful for what they sent; I'm just confused as to how they determined the amount.

    Again, I want to express my appreciation for your help. I would never have known what to do without your assistance.

    Kathy Smith
  13. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member


    What awesome new for you to share...Thank you for taking the time to let others know that if you don't give up, you can get what the veteran or their spouse is entitled to!!!! From your own experience you know how easy it would be to give up which is what the VA counts on and many do just that.

    We appreciate all your kind words about our efforts to make a difference for others, and it is stories like yours that makes it all worth it.

    With the pro-rating that would factor in here, it really would not be worth your time to persue this any further. Cash the check and be grateful that in the end you fought the battle for your dad to get the honor and recognition of his sacrifice to our country.

    God Bless!
  14. Kathy

    Kathy Newbie

    Thanks for your kind response. I'll take your advice and not pursue any pro-rated benefit. Since my husband is a financial advisor specializing in estate planning, he has already had opportunities to tell others (who have family who might qualify) about the A&A benefit. One family he referred to your website has already started receiving benefits for their mother.

    May God bless you richly for your untiring efforts on behalf of our men and women who so valiantly served our country.

  15. Patty

    Patty Newbie

    I also help people get their A&A benefits (no charge) and after reading the newsletter I wanted to come here and share something that has worked 100% for the folks I help whose loved one pass away during the benefit process. You need to fill in 21-601 with the expenses from the last illness showing those medical expenses paid from the 1st of the month after you originally filed until the date of death. I have done this for at least 6 people and all of them received the full A&A from the first of the month after the filing until the month before passing. You must include a statement showing what was PAID to any Home Care Agency or Assisted Living (which they should be able to print out for you) UNPAID expenses will not be considered.
    Many people think the last illness is that last hospital stay, which is often zero - put that in and the VA "correctly" zero's out the claim.
    All the best,

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