My "Success" story with A&A

Discussion in 'Share Your Personal Experience' started by deb1553, Jul 6, 2008.

  1. deb1553

    deb1553 Newbie

    This is long overdue, but I wanted to share my story with others going through this process. I could not have gotten this far without Debbie's help. This website is INVALUABLE and I hope I can repay Debbie's efforts by sharing my story.

    I tried to apply for A&A a few months *before* my mother entered the Alzheimer's Unit of her assisted living, but the VA wouldn't let me. They DID, however, consider that to be my application date--meaning that retroactive benefits, if and when they were awarded, would be run back to that date. I also ran into the POA roadblock at this time--I checked with my lawyer on this and she was initially surprised but advised me to just have my mother sign the reapplication. (This was in 2006--I don't recall that the form assigning me as her representative existed then.)

    When my mother moved into her AL a couple of months later, I reapplied to the VA. I did not have to resubmit all the paperwork--but I DID have to create a new financial worksheet that showed my actual and expected expenditures as of that date. I did the whole thing myself--it took a good deal of time. I had used Debbie's guidelines in creating my initial application (which amounted to about 20 pages!) and the VA did not ask for any more material, so her guidelines are RIGHT ON. (Actually, at the time I applied, the VA still had links to the old version of the standard application--but Debbie's site linked to the PDF of the updated form!!)
    I sent it to the VA by mail--requiring a signature, of course.

    And so the waiting began. I sent the application in Feb. 2007. I got a couple of form letters but heard nothing substantial for six months. In August I received my mother's letter of approval. But no benefits. We had entered "the fiduciary zone."

    More waiting. I don't really need to tell anyone in this forum about the expenses incurred while waiting for the VA. I had done my homework beforehand, so I was confident that my mother would qualify for the pension. But this requires that you go out on a limb and incur more debt in order to prove need. I was borrowing about $1500/month for my mother's rent. In addition, the Medicare Pt. D prescription plan she had no longer covered the "doughnut hole", so her prescription bills were a lot higher in 2007. It only took her about 5 months to enter the coverage gap, which meant about $600/month for her medications. By the time I received the award letter we were an additional $9000 in debt. I had cleaned out her savings and cashed in her life insurance policy.

    I wrote to the VA and called them. Someone suggested that i have her waive due process--but by this time (November 2007) I had gone this far and I firmly believed that I should be appointed fiduciary. So I didn't waive the process.

    More months passed. In February 2008 I was SO FED UP that I wrote to my senior Senator Jack Reed. Within 3 DAYS his office responded with a form for me to sign to allow them to contact the VA on my behalf. Within a week of mailing this form I got a call from the person who handles Fiduciary matters at the regional office. He met with me and my mother a few days later. It was necessary that I open an account in my name, as a trustee of my mother, into which the benefits would be directly deposited. I will also have to account to the penny for the expenditure of the funds after a year. By March, 2008, my mother had received retroactive benefits of $15,000 as well as her monthly benefit.

    The sad ending to this story is that my mother died in April, 2008. Despite the anguish, I am grateful that I was able to give her the care she deserved during the last few years of her life. I am grateful to the VA for offering the money, but they certainly do make it hard. I don't see how an elderly person of diminished mental capacity and with no advocate could ever take advantage of this benefit. Again, if it weren't for this website and for Debbie Burak, I would not have be able to do all this.


    Deb Peterson
  2. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member


    First and foremost, my heart goes out to you. We are so sorry to hear of the loss of your mom. As you know my experience of taking care of my parents is what led me to create this website and forum with the hopes of giving a different ending for someone else.

    Thank you for your very kind words and for taking the time to share with all of us your journey as a daughter who only wanted the best for their mom.

    I have no doubt that you will inspire others to hold on and continue to fight for what is rightfully entitled by the sacrifice of service.

    May God's Grace wrap around your brave and caring heart.

Share This Page