Retroactive Payment Date??

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by luvnmom, Oct 6, 2011.

  1. luvnmom

    luvnmom Newbie


    I am new to this site & sure wish I would have known about it BEFORE I submitted the original claim for my mom.

    Here's a short version of my story: Mom is 73 with dementia. She is unable to care for herself, so my husband and I moved her in with us, and she has a caretaker.

    We first applied for benefits in August, 2011. We went to a local VFW office for assistance in filling out the forms. The man that assisted us was very nice, but took about 5 minutes to complete ALL of the paperwork...hence, we listed no un-reimbursed medical expenses.

    My mom has no assets, doesn't own a home, NOTHING...and her only income is the $950 she receives from Social Security. We were shocked in February 2011 when we got the letter from the VA stating she was approved for A&A and a monthly pension of $99, monthly pension began in March 2011, with retroactive award being held pending fiduciary process.

    We found this WONDERFUL site (THANK YOU DEBBIE!!) and decided to submit a Statement of Claim, included her caregiver expenses ($1200/mo) which brings her countable income to less than $0 per month...and a detailed Caregiver contract signed by both my mother and her caretaker. We also stated that we felt this was a VA error since we tried to get advice/help filling out the forms from someone recommended to us by the VA!

    On September 23, I was appointed my mother's fiduciary (that process took FOREVER...we waited nearly 7 months before even receving a call from the field examiner). I was told by the field examiner that the retroactive payment of $495 (based on her current award) would be released in ~3 weeks, and was told that if my mother's reopened claim was approved at a higher amount, the total retroactive payment would increase from the date of original claim.

    As of October 3rd, when inquiring on the status of my mother's claim (which the VA is calling a "reopened claim") I was told a decision was made as of that day, but the representative didn't have any other information in the system, and told me I would receive a letter "soon"...

    My question is, since we were basically instructed incorrectly the first time we filled out the application, if the VA does increase the monthly award, would they make that new award retroactive to the date of filing the original claim 8/2010??

  2. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    Well, we are certainly glad that you found us, and thank you for appreciating the work that I do.

    The VA is going to look back to when she was paying out expenses that impacted her monthly income. Not sure what formula they will use to know how far they will go back. One thing for certain they should go back to all the months that she was paying for care that left her at zero at the end of the month.

    Please keep us posted as to how things turn out for her.
  3. luvnmom

    luvnmom Newbie

    Thanks Debbie.

    I called the pension hotline again today 10/12/11...was told that there has been "no activity" on my mother's application for 60+ days, so the man issued me a reference # and told me someone from the VA would contact me in 5-7 days (or longer, since they are busy)...this is completely different information from what I was told last week...where it looked like a decision was soon to be made! The man I spoke to today said he did see some activity on 10/3, but it an internal "request pending", but no correspondence for my mother...I am so frustrated! Mom asks me every day about this, and I'm starting to feel like I'm lying to her since I am getting conflicting info from the VA...the gentleman today told me he thought it was odd that a claim would go so long without activity, especially since it doesn't look like they are requesting any further information. We are going on 14 months since we submitted the original claim!
  4. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    You need to contact her Senator or Congressperson and ask them to make an inquiry on her behalf due to the length of time the appliction has been pending. The congressional inquiry will require that they will have a limited timeframe to reply.

    Being told that you will hear from someone in 5-7 days is a common reply when it is discovered a file has sat inactive. The fact there has been no activity on the file in 60+ days is a clear indicator that something is wrong on their end.

    Let us know how things work out for you.
  5. luvnmom

    luvnmom Newbie

    Thanks Debbie...

    I took your advice and contacted my congressman's office. The representative I spoke with assured me that they would contact the VA on my mother's behalf & hopefully get a status update for us.

    This morning, 10/24, I called the VA Hotline & was told the last update in their computer shows activity on 10/20 listing "forwarded to team handling decision" -- what do you think that means??? The operator thought that was probably good news & said he thought the VA had all they needed to make a decision...

    Why do they make this sooooo difficult?
  6. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    It's the VA, and they make everything difficult.

    This does sound like good news, and hopefully you will be receivng a decision soon. Hang on a little longer, and keep us updated.
  7. luvnmom

    luvnmom Newbie

    Update...I've now spoken to a VA rep who called me from the St. Paul office. He called me in regards to my request for expediting my mother's claim due to financial hardship.

    He indicated that he would "push the application through" stating hardship...but I don't know if this means anything.

    In the meantime, my mom's health continues to deteriorate, and her expenses FAR exceed the $99 they are sending her monthly.

    Any idea what "pushing through" a hardship claim means as far as timeframe?
  8. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    With any luck you should have a decision within 60 days if they follow through with the expediting based on the financial hardship. There is no set-in-stone timeframe when dealing with the VA, but having someone push the application through helps a lot.

    Keep us posted.
  9. luvnmom

    luvnmom Newbie

    Status Update...

    Kathy, I took your advice & contacted my local congressman's office on 10/13...since then, I hadn't heard anything, and decided to call the representative from his office yesterday. I was told that he would follow up with the VA since he himself hadn't received any response from them.

    Soooo...I called the Pension Hotline this morning, and was told, to my surprise, that my mom's claim had been pulled by the VA's Congressional Committee board on 11/7 for expediting, and that the Pension Hotline wouldn't really be able to give me any updates, since the fate of my mom's claim was now between the Congressional Committee and my local Congressman's office. The woman I spoke to thought this probably meant that I would hear word from the VA or the Congressman's office any day now.

    Have you heard of anything like this before? Do you think this is good news?
  10. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    Yes on all counts. This is why I tell people when there has been too much time or a snag where the application is held up and has not moved through processing to involve their state's representatives.

    Hopefully you will get a ruling here very soon.
  11. luvnmom

    luvnmom Newbie

    I'm posting again, because I want to share my journey...I cannot believe how confusing this whole process is & hopefully my posts will help others.

    Since my last post, when I called into the Pension Hotline and told that my mother's claim had been pulled as was in the hand's of the Congressional board, I called in today to update contact information, and the person I spoke to checked status for me (again) and seemed to be upset that I called again, and said he didn't see anything about a Congressional board inquiry, and that why can't I just be patient?? I was so insulted. I can't imagine that the woman who told me my mother's claim was pulled & being expedited just made those things up, and now to be told by another representative that mom's claim is still "pending" -- do different call centers see different information???

    What to believe??!!!
  12. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    On one point, you really don't want to call the VA every day. That is not going to help. They have a certain timeframe to respond to any type of congressional inquiries, and give it another 10 day before checking back with them. It is not uncommon for one person to say one thing while another says something completely different. Let's just hope the first person you spoke with was more informed and took the time to actually look things up.

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