Just getting started... should we use a lawyer?

Discussion in 'Share Your Personal Experience' started by catfancier, Sep 13, 2015.

  1. catfancier

    catfancier Newbie

    Hello Everyone,

    Brand new forum member here, in Houston, Texas area. We are looking into assisted living for 86-year-old relative, widow of Korean War era vet. I'm pretty sure she will qualify for A&A because he was serving in 1951...so if I read the website correctly I think we have that basic hurdle covered.

    One of the facilities we visited (and can't afford) said there are lawyers who will "do the application"
    for a flat fee -- $750 was cited. Then I could swear I read somewhere online that you aren't supposed to have to PAY anyone to do the application... I assume there is some nuance there that I have missed.

    I have also been told by A Place for Mom (have mixed feelings about those folks) that one shouldn't even apply for A&A until the person is IN the facility. We are counting heavily on her getting the $1100 A&A maximum... so I don't know what I don't know. If her SS is about $1300 and the home will be $2000....will
    she "only" get $700 as an A&A benefit then? Another facility we are considering would be $2500 a month,
    so there is a $1200 shortfall in that scenario. Does the VA look at the facility costs primarily?

    There are three relatives involved --me, the son and daughter-in-law (I'm counting them as one unit haha) and daughter. All of us work 50+ hours a week and are daunted by this whole application process. That's why I am actually willing to pay someone else to deal with it... but how much footwork does the family have to do anyway? Can you give a lawyer "name, rank and serial number" and have them take it from there? For those who did it all themselves, can you put an estimate of hours (or days or weeks??) that it took to complete?

    I know this is rambling... appreciate any all comments and insights! Thanks so much!
  2. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member


    Couple of points for you.

    1. A Place For Mom is correct when they said to not make application until you are actually paying for the care. You cannot make an application on anticipated expenses. The application is based on the expenses being paid at the time of application.

    2. If her total income for the month is $1300 SS, and facility exceeds her monthly income, then she is negative for VA purposes demonstrating a "financial need".

    I am sending you a private message on a referral.
  3. wendy0093

    wendy0093 Newbie

    I was told that it is illegal for attorneys (or anyone) to charge a fee for helping with a VA application. However, the way they get around it is that they charge you for "financial counseling" and then do the application for "free". I was told by two different lawyers that their fee is equal to one month worth of benefits. I believe there are legitimate attorneys who do this -- after all, they really can't be expected to put in hours of work for free.

    I did the application for my mom by myself. In the long run, I wish I had used an attorney. All through the process, I felt unsure of myself and I agonized that I would do something incorrectly. It was excruciating. It can be done -- just expect that it will take hours of your time.
  4. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    it is illegal to charge for assistance, and yes, if other services are provided that are not attached to the pension, those can be charged for. However, I take exception to anyone attorney or otherwise, charging one-month's pension as a fee to be excessive and taking advantage.

    Using the site and these forums will allow anyone to make the application on their own. For some due to circumstances, time constraints or other limitations, they opt for other assistance.

    We are just glad that you were able to complete the process, and hope that means you had a successful outcome.
  5. davidbilly

    davidbilly Newbie

    Nicely explained by you guys...Thumbs up!
  6. Lori M

    Lori M Newbie

    I am new here too. Dad is 88, fell and broke his hip. He is currently in rehab. I have the 'lovely' responsibility of paying his bills, doing paperwork, and above all...worrying about him while living 12 hours away. I was told of the A&A by the director of the rehab facility. I originally contacted a consultant company that helps you muddle through all this for $900. Sometimes I think, maybe it would be worth it! But now I am grasping that if I pay attention to these forums I may be able to figure this out.

    Dad will be sent home, when we don't know, to live alone. Scares the crap out of me. He was struggling before the fall. How he can afford to pay someone to assist him will be interesting. He doesn't have much at all. I have gathered all that I can thus far, but I now realize I need to wait until he is released and see what service he needs to even complete the intent to file.

    Anyway...I will be lurking on these forums. Thanks for listening.
    Kaylin likes this.
  7. Jandy

    Jandy Jr. Member

    Welcome, Lori M--glad you found your way here. I'm sorry to hear about your dad's fall. I hope he will make good progress in rehab.

    It sounds like you have some decisions ahead of you. It's not easy, is it? My father has been in declining health for years, but his wife (my stepmother) was able to take pretty good care of him in their home. When she died suddenly, we had to make some fast decisions. A family member was able to move in for a couple months and take care of Dad while we sorted things out. It quickly became apparent that Dad would need to move into an assisted living facility. But how to pay for it? I discovered that he didn't have much at all as far as assets. I remember crying with exhaustion and fear, surrounded by documents, wondering what the heck we were going to do.

    We are not a "military family" (meaning, my father was not career military; he was drafted and served proudly and honorably, then became a college professor), so we had no experience with the VA. You are lucky that someone at the rehab facility told you about the A&A benefit. I had never heard of it. When I called the local VA office to see if anything was available, the gentleman there told me there was nothing. He was not trying to mislead; I honestly think he didn't really know about A&A. Thank goodness I stumbled across this site--it is a godsend. I read and read, asked questions, and was able to file the application by myself. Dad was approved for a full A&A benefit--hurray! We are happy with the care he receives at his ALF--he is doing pretty well.

    I tell you all this to let you know that you will get through this. Hopefully, you will find a good care plan that makes sense for your father and his needs. Make yourself at home here on the forums, read as much as you can, ask questions (there are NO stupid questions). You can do this.

    My best goes out to you and your father as you sort things out.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2017
    Lori M, gmasjo and Kaylin like this.
  8. Kaylin

    Kaylin Hero Member Staff Member

    Hoping for the best for your father, Lori. I know it is a sticky and sometimes difficult situation to be in to be applying for the A&A benefit while also trying to figure out how much care the veteran/spouse needs and how much it will all cost. If you have any questions throughout your journey, we're here to help!

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