Veteran's benefits and Medicaid--combo doesn't work to help surviving spouse

Discussion in 'Share Your Personal Experience' started by Lizzie, Sep 12, 2012.

  1. Lizzie

    Lizzie Thanks to all who serve and help.

    OK, I had my Mom come to stay with me in 2010 b/ my sibling was neglecting her and she was falling and I saw evidence of memory problems. My sister was most unhelpful. Two years later, I have had to move Mom (who is a sweet and kind person, in spite of dementia), to an ALF close by. I did it with the understanding that a program to which I was referred in my state would work with the ALF for partial payment and some other benefits similar to Medicaid. Part of that involved "medicaid eligibility." I was not told by the case managers for eligibility that all they were doing was collecting the info and handing it to the state dept. that determines and also assigns Medicaid in my state. I had checked out Medicaid earlier and knew that she was just above the rock-bottom limit and would be rejected. NOWHERE, NO TIME did these people tell me it was the SAME THING!!! It wasn't until I got letters from that dept., directly from a case worker, that I figured it out. I called the state case manager and she was user-friendly and did confirm this. And, the program eligibility case manager was unable to confirm what was in the letter to me. "D." was nice but clueless. The case manager for the service side of the program, "S.," was apologetic but told me that I was right and that "D.", the "eligibility specialist" was new and in training. (The former eligibility mgr. left in the middle of the process--nice, but again clueless or hiding info to make the process work for her company.) I had started the VA A & A process about a year ago but it was taking a long time b/c some of the documents needed had been lost or destroyed so I was having to research and get official copies of everything. Someone at the ALF said that the state program (Medicaid) and the VA could work together to pay the cost of the ALF. That would be great, I thought. My husband was delighted. Having Mom move to a good place had helped me recover somewhat from health issues and caregiver burn-out and gave us our house back--something that was greatly missed with our children grown and having moved out on their own. Last night, I find out that if Mom is spent down to almost nothing for this "acclaimed program" which is actually Medicaid-funded, the VA benefit for the my mother, ALF or home care, would only be $90. Yeah. $90. The balance would have to come from us, or rather my husband, b/c I am looking for a job or considering going back to school to get credits I need. Having a MA is something, but I have been out of the workplace for a while taking care of Mom and the economy is, well, you know. My husband and I are not that far from retirement. Tonight he says, "I hope you enjoy your retirement on food stamps since your mother's costs are going to run us into the ground." She is 89 and longevity runs in the family. My husband was saying this in jest--gallows humor, but he has a point! I am close to having the VA info ready but I have to call everyday to get an appt.--busy time and they are understaffed. And, although I have gone in 3 times, there is always something else to get and wait for another appt. I still do not know how much VA will pay for ALF for the surviving spouse (Mom) of a WWII vet who was honorably discharged. She qualifies for A & A due to health and mobility and memory issues but how does that differ from the death pension for which she never applied? Are we talking about 2 different benefits? I found the paperwork from the VA from over 2 decades ago and Mom did not know that she could have applied then. The sibling, who will not contribute anything for Mom, said yeah, she had gotten the papers some years ago but it looked too complicated and she didn't have time. I asked if she was interested in helping out with expenses and never heard back, even though she is happy to use the phone line to call my mom for which I pay about $30/mo. and she pays 0. She has not seen her mother in 2 years and has bought a new house and a new car. I am beginning to believe that I have been told a tale about the state program. It is like pulling teeth to find out anything. I know that my only caring partner is my dear husband. Anyone know how VA works before I get kicked out of my home for an unfortunate situation caused by the early death of my dad who was beginning to get plans together, but ran out of time? Thanks. Bless you all.

    Lizzie


    Addendum: I understand now that $90 from VA A&A pays only for personal expenses. I love my mom dearly and my dad was awesome. I do not view taking care of my mom as onerous, but I am trying to do the right, best thing for her. I forgot to mention that we are still helping our son who is in college. I certainly would not have a problem contributing from my income, but I don't have one (yet) and I know that I am behind the eight ball on that b/c of my age and being out to take care of my mom. I look forward to more information as time is running out on both the VA and Medicaid options. I feel like the VA benefits are in order and would be closer to being approved than the other. That would allow what assets are left to be used for care. I still am not sure, from all of the Web sites, people, attorneys, etc., exactly what I am applying for. Any help would be appreciated.

    Lizzie
     
  2. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    Lizzie,

    If Mom qualifies for the full award of A&A for a surviving spouse, the amount is $1094 a month.

    If Mom was eligible for DIC, much would depend on if your Dad passed due to service-connected issues.

    Mom cannot have both DIC and A&A. You would have to choose which would pay her more, so it might be worth exploring in the event the DIC would offer her more.

    This forum and site do not deal with DIC, so you would need to contact the VA directly to inquire about it. Suggest you bypass the office you have been dealing with, and call the infamous 800 827-1000 number. Call mid-week and later in the day to avoid peak call times.

    Sorry that it all has been so challenging for you.
     
  3. Lizzie

    Lizzie Thanks to all who serve and help.

    Thank you for taking the time to read the "longer" version of my situation. The common theme is that I am not getting much help from the VSO in my area. That office has retained the time-stamped copy of the "unofficial claim" filed last year by me on behalf of my mom. I will need to get that back. I will check with the VA, but I believe, from everything that I have read, the A & A would be the logical claim. I have a few more forms to pick up before I send off a completed packet, and I am using the template shared by wfrances as a success story--good and straightforward.

    Question: 1) Do I need to send off the original of the forms (marriage license, death certificate, discharge papers) or will a copy do? I worry about having the originals lost forever and it took a lot of time and research to find the marriage license and the discharge papers.
    2) Can I send what I have and if anything else is found (I am confident that I have everything, but I haven't done this before...), send in a Statement to Support Claim as an amendment? I also realize while completing this, the VSO had me do a 21-22 last year naming them as the third party. Since I have had to go it alone, I need to make sure that the VA can contact me.

    Thanks,
    Lizzie
     
  4. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    Lizzie, never send the VA the original of anything as you will never see it again.

    You will need certified copies of the discharge papers etc.

    You do want to revoke the 21-22 but keep in mind everything has to be in Mom's name, and in its place you include the 21-0845 "Approved 3rd Party making you that person so that you can speak with the VA on her behalf.

    Good luck!
     
  5. Lizzie

    Lizzie Thanks to all who serve and help.

    Debbie,

    That was my first thought. I have spent months getting these forms and at the tome, only ordered 1 copy--spent several hundred dollars to find things in remote places. I did not know I would need two. Some forum posters indicate that they did receive back the originals. I personally do not know if this is procedure. I especially do bot want to lose the original discharge papers that were found by mt daughter. I have been unable to leave my mother and now I am sick and behind my schedule. I will send off everything I can overnight and still make the deadline and if I have any changes, I believe there is a form to send accompanying any updates.

    Thanks,

    Lizzie
     
  6. vetadmin

    vetadmin Administrator Staff Member

    Lizzie,

    Sorry you have been under the weather. Do not send the originals. It is very rare that the VA returns the discharge papers. For those who did get them back, they are the exception.

    You can take a breath here since you have missed getting the application submitted in Sept, which would have made the effective date Oct. Basically you have lost 30 days on the award date, so the main focus is to get it submitted in Oct.
     
  7. Lizzie

    Lizzie Thanks to all who serve and help.

    Thank you for replying. That helps me to get everything in order better since this illness has been awful. I am not a complainer but this was like nothing else. Seems I have had lingering effects from recalled produce. Of course, I found out AFTER the recall. I tried to check eBenefits but got nowhere as my father passed away in the '80s.

    I called the Philadelphia # but no chance of getting through. I am faxing a form to them as suggested but plan to get this done quickly. Also looked at e-mail possibilities b/c that's what the state requires. Not sure if I will receive a response.

    Thank you again for your excellent and caring advice. Monday is a Federal holiday, so I guess the offices are closed.

    Lizzie
     

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