Success and steps we took - thank you Debbie and others

Discussion in 'Share Your Personal Experience' started by neckardt, Oct 24, 2013.

  1. neckardt

    neckardt Newbie

    Today my mother's bank account received deposit of $7,719: 7 months benefit at the max of $1,113/month retroactive to about the time when she filed her application. We assume she will continue to receive the maximum monthly benefit indefinitely, although she will undoubtedly have to provide updates showing the home care and medical costs are remaining as stated. It is almost exactly 9 months since we filed the "intent to file" form, and a little over 5 months since sending in the completed application.

    Her story:
    Mom is a 92-yr old widow of a WWII veteran. She lives in her own condo in a senior community condo association, and since January 2013, has needed round-the-clock aid and assistance, as she can't walk, get in and out of bed, bathe and use the toilet, etc by herself. She also has bronchiectasis and needs to use an electronic "VEST" twice per day (shakes her chest to loosen the build-up of phlegm and ease her continual coughing) and of course needs assistance with that as well. Fortunately the senior community association can provide care givers, at about half the going rate of other professional care giver services in town - but it is still very expensive and she is now running through her savings in her trust account at a rapid rate. She meets the basic requirements for aid&assistance (widow of veteran, form signed by her doctor that she requires 24/7 aid and attendance, diagnoses of rheumatoid arthritis, spinal stenosis, and bronchiectasis, less than $80,000 in assets, not including value of her home).
    Although we included a form authorization to disclose personal information to me, and requested that they call me if they needed to call for more information, they never called (Mom or me): they only sent letters to Mom (which I helped her answer). She was able to sign all of the forms herself.

    In case it is of help to anyone else, I will document the steps that we took. Someone else uploaded a copy of the cover letter they sent with a similar application, and it helped us immensely - I modeled our cover letter on this. We also heard that the local VA office would be very willing to help, but they might not have the best information - or even inaccurate information. This proved to be the case: I was confused about certain things and sought answers in multiple places. The local VA office told me to file certain form numbers that I hadn't heard about searching info on this site; I decided that the information I found here made the most sense and I ignored the advice that didn't agree with it. I think they are sincerely trying to help as best they can, but the office is staffed by volunteers and they just don't know everything (and it's quite complicated and everyone's case is slightly different), so I don't blame them for not giving us good information - but beware. Some apparently good advice we received: do not send too much information - only send what is clearly asked for, or what you think might be necessary - if they want more information, they will ask for it.

    2013 Timeline (all mail was sent with return receipt requested):
    Jan 22 - submitted request online for Dad's discharge records through VetRecs. Received the records about 1-2 weeks later (!).
    Jan 25 - mailed the "intent to file" form to Milwaukee VA office. Received return receipt postmarked Feb 4.
    ---received info from local VA office that we could file form "21-534EZ", but we decided this was a bad idea, since we had already started the ball rolling through the "non-EZ" pathway - not recommended to change mid-stream and confuse them --- local VA office also said we needed to file various other forms - but on studying them, they appeared to be for other situations ("death benefit" for spouse of veteran wounded or killed in action, that sort of thing - nothing that applied to our situation).
    May 11 - mailed complete application (first cover letter below). Received return receipt ~May 20.
    Aug 15 - Mom received letter requesting additional information.
    Aug 30 - mailed additional information (second cover letter below). Received return receipt postmarked Sep 3.
    Oct 23 - first benefit payment received. Appears to be 7 months retroactive pay ($1113 * 7 = $7791) - not exactly clear when they are beginning payment, as Feb through Oct is 9 months, but we are not complaining!

    First Cover Letter

    Milwaukee Pension Maintenance Center
    Veterans Administration
    5400 West National Avenue
    Milwaukee, WI 53214

    May 11, 2013

    RE: Filing of VA Form 21-534 for Claimant [Name] VA File No. [numbers ]
    (taken from letter received acknowledging receipt of the 'intent to file')

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    Enclosed is an application for Compensation and/or Accrued Benefits for a Surviving Spouse - VA Form 21-534 that is being filed by [Mom's name],the surviving spouse of U.S. Navy Veteran [Dad's name], who served in WWII.

    I am assisting my mother, [Name], in the filing of this application. She is 91 years old and living on a limited income of social security and Navy pension benefits. She has assets of less than $80,000. She requires the regular aid of another person in order to perform personal functions required in everyday living; she can no longer walk without assistance, dress or bathe herself or attend to personal hygiene, prepare and serve meals for herself, or dispense her regular prescription medicines. As of January 7, 2013 she has had 24/7 in-home care provided by paid caregivers. The following forms and supporting paperwork are included with this application to support the request for the VA Benefit which includes the Aid & Attendance allowance:

    1. Letter from VA Dated March 04, 2013 showing receipt of Intent to File on February 4, 2013.
    2. VA Form 21-534 - Application for Compensation and Accrued Benefits by a Surviving Spouse.
    3. VA Form 21-0845 - Authorization to Disclose Personal Information to daughter [Name].
    4. VA Form 21-2680 - Physician Statement for [Mom's name].
    5. Military Records for [Dad's name].
    6. Copy of Death Certificate for [Dad's name].
    7. Copy of Marriage Certificate for [Dad] and [Mom].
    8. VA Form 21-4138 - Statement in Support of a Claim - Claimant lived with Veteran continuously from the date of their marriage to the date of his death and Claimant has not remarried.
    9. Social Security Benefit letter for [Mom's name].
    10. Contract and attendant affidavit for an individual home caregiver, niece of claimant who is providing care on weekends.

    Due to my Mother’s advanced age (91) we request that this application be expedited to the greatest degree possible. If you have any questions or need more information please contact me at [my home phone]. Thank for consideration of her application.


    Nancy Eckardt
    Daughter of Veteran [Name] and Surviving Spouse/Claimant [Name]
    VA File No. [Number]

    Mom received a letter requesting more information in August, 2013. Unlike some other stories I've read here (so sorry), this letter was very clear about what was being requested - I didn't have trouble with it. They wanted another doctor's form, which might have duplicated something sent before, but we did it anyway. And they wanted additional affadavits for home care givers, as we had only included one for a niece who was helping, but most care was being given by professional service, and they wanted those affadavits as well - we just had one filled out and signed by the person in charge (not all the individual care givers who are employed by the service).
    They also requested she fill out and sign a "VCAA notice response", which asked her to check a box, whether she was going to collect and send in any additional information, or whether we now considered the application complete and we wished them to make a determination asap on the basis of information received: we checked the latter box (decide now on basis of info received).

    Second Cover Letter

    Department of Veterans Affairs
    Pension Management Center
    PO Box 342060
    Milwaukee, WI 53234-2060

    August 30, 2013

    RE: [No. that was on a letter]
    File number: [Dad's SS # - same as his service number]
    Veteran Dad's name

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    Enclosed please find additional evidence and documentation related to my claim referenced above for aid and attendance benefit.

    -Copy of letter from VA dated August 14, 2013 requesting additional evidence/documents in support of my claim.
    -VCAA notice response.
    -Form 21-4138 Statement in Support of Claim with explanatory notes.
    -Attendant affadavits from [Name of Senior Community] and [Name of secondary professional care giver service].
    -Statement from Physician [Name], MD verifying need of aid and attendance.
    -Form 21-4142 Authorization and consent to release information to the VA for Physician [Name], MD in the event you wish to obtain additional treatment records or information directly from the physician.


    [Mom's name]
    Claimant and Surviving Spouse of Veteran [Dad's name]

    October 24: Funds from VA deposited directly into Mom's account: appears to be 7 months retroactive benefit at $1113/month.

    Thank You Debbie, for all the work you do on this site - it's amazing. I made a donation. :) Thanks to everyone else who gave information as well. Searching the site provided a lot of good information!

    Nan Eckardt
    Fort Collins, CO
    (Mom lives in Wisconsin)
  2. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member


    Congratulations are in order!!

    Thanks for sharing all this info on how you approached the application process, and I hope it will be helpful to others.

    I am so glad to know that you found the site, forums, and contributions of others key in the process, and Thank-you for your donation supporting our work!
  3. Jan L

    Jan L Newbie

    Congratulations and thanks for the helpful info. You refer to an affidavit for private care givers. Is that a form or something you created? Does it need to be notarized? I don't see it asked for on the application - did you provide out of an abundance of caution? Also, just some "housekeeping", should I attach the requested documents (death certificate, service record, marriage certificate) on the page where it says, or at the end of the application? I also note you provided a form VA 21-4138 (re parents living together continuously). I have not seen this asked for either, again, did you just do it to pre-empt a request for additional info?
  4. lady linda

    lady linda Newbie

    Congratulations, my dad will be 91 July 2014. Started all paper work March 2013. We have been sent messages, we need more information, sent July 5 2014. This information was send with original paper work, they lost. ::). Va in Los Angele's, has sent letters stating, we our reviewing thank you for your patients, several times. I called today asking what is the status ?? Jim inform me we have paper work that need to be sent, I asked what paper work ? I told him this was e-mail 7/5/2013. he states, what e-mail Va doesnt send e-mail information. I said yes they do. I open My e-mail, I had saved from 7/5/2013. Gave him the e-mail address, & time sent. He say oh yes, I see this information.
    Well you know it can take 12-14 months. I told him I sent a expedited letter stating my dads age, he says thank you for your Father service. :eek: :'( :eek: ??? ??? ???

Share This Page