Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Aid and Attendance Program for Wartime Veterans

by Betsy Barbeau


I'm trying to get the word out to any of the 70th Engineers who might need this!  It is a crying shame, but the V.A. isn't telling vets about the Aid and Attendance program for those who have (even minor) ongoing health issues.  I help them get those benefits.

I have attached an overview and some FAQs about the program.  I work with an accredited claims agent, trained by the V.A. to do this but she does not work for the V.A., so she doesn't drag her feet, as they tend to do!

Jackie has a phenomenal record of getting very high awards for veterans, on the first try and has NEVER had one returned for something she neglected.  There was a case in Raleigh NC last year of a 91-year-old widow whose full widow's benefit from this program was cut from $1,149/month to $32/month because something was filed incorrectly.  I called Jackie to see if there was anything we could do – this widow was not one of Jackie's clients – but learned that once an award has been made, no changes or corrections can be made.  That is why Jackie is SO meticulous about making sure all i's are dotted and all t's crossed, before she submits the formal application.

The V.A. is "behind" on processing claims, so it can be 3 to 4 months before the veteran hears from them about their award.  They are paid for that waiting period though, so if a married vet is awarded $2,000, using round numbers for math's sake, and it takes 3 months for the V.A. to respond, their first check will be $6,000.  Out of that check, Jackie will be paid her one-time administrative fee of $2,500, leaving the vet $3,500.  (If there is no award – which has only happened once because a vet neglected to reveal all of his stocks and bonds – there is no fee owed.)  I can assure you that if someone tries to do this on their own, as with the 91-year-old did, they will either have an award reversed, as hers was, or they will not get nearly as high an award.  Jackie's fee is well worth it!

I welcome any questions you might have about this.  My number is 919/795-9509.  If you have to leave a message, please leave your name, number and a good time to call, and I will call you back!

Congress passed the Aid and Attendance program benefit in the 1950s for wartime veterans that served our great nation. The benefit provides a Tax-Free pension that can help offset the costs of:

  • Assisted Living Homes
  • Nursing Homes
  • Care for your Spouse
  • Care in a senior community
  • Other needs

Qualified Veterans are eligible for up to:

  • $2,120 per Month for a Married Couple
  • $1,789 per Month for a Single or Widowed Veteran
  • $1,149 per Month for the Widow/Widower of a Veteran


Tip: Do not file any forms directly with the VA. Find a "VA Accredited Claims Agent" (ACA) - if something goes wrong, the VA ACA can help you. Veterans who file without a VA ACA average thousands of dollars less per year than Veterans that have a VA ACA. Aging Warrior Advocates is a VA Accredited Claim Agent! Contact us at 919/795-9509.

Qualification requirements of the Veteran’s Administration:

  • Veteran, spouse or widow/widower served during wartime, including those who served stateside.
  • Served at least 90 days of active service with one of those days being during wartime. Eligible dates are: 04/21/1898 to 07/15/1903, 05/09/1916 to 11/11/1918, 12/07/1941 to 12/31/1946, 06/27/1950 to 01/31/1955, 08/05/1964 to 05/07/1975, 08/20/1990 to present.
  • Received an honorable discharge - need to provide a copy of the Discharge Papers with the application.
  • A spouse must not have divorced the veteran.
  • If the veteran has died and the widow/widower remarries, there are some situations where they would still qualify.
  • Must need some assistance with at least two activities of daily living such as bathing, meal preparation, etc. This assistance does not mean that they require complete physical assistance - activities such as cuing with dressing, reminders to bathe, med monitoring, and “needs supervision” would qualify.
  • Applicants must be receiving assistance or have a doctor’s order before they can apply.
  • Benefits are retroactive to the application month date.
  • If on VA Disability, cannot also get this, but will be able to choose whichever pays more.

There are some financial qualifications for those applying. HOWEVER, it is based on an adjusted income NOT the gross income. To figure the adjusted income, regularly-recurring medical expenses, insurance premiums, and even the cost of the community where they are residing is taken into consideration. Assets not included (exempt) are the applicant’s home, pensions, small life insurance policies, prepaid funeral expenses, and annuities in payout status. There is no look-back period at this current time. This is where the VA Accredited Claims Agent will be of assistance. These Agents are very well versed in what is and is not allowed for income qualification purposes.


VA AID AND ATTENDANCE / IMPROVED PENSION BENEFIT
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: I have power of attorney for my elder. Can I sign these VA forms for him?
A: The VA will not recognize the signature of a power-of-attorney. We are required by law to submit the original signature. If the elder is unable to sign their name, an "X" witnessed by two people with their address is accepted.

Q: I can’t find the Social Security Award Letter. What can I do?
A: You may request another letter from SSA: 800-772-1213.

Q: I can’t locate the discharge papers. How do I get them? Do I have to before I can apply?
A: You can request an undeleted report of separation from www.archives.gov. This is a free service from the National Archives and Records Administration. You don’t have to wait to receive them to apply, but it is best and will shorten the processing time. If you decide not to wait and want to apply, please provide us with as much of the following information as possible:

  1. DOB
  2. Place of birth
  3. Date and place of entry into active service
  4. Date and place of separation, branch of service, organization, grade, rank at time of discharge
  5. If the veteran served under a different name, we need the full name
Q: I found something that looks like a discharge paper, but it doesn’t say DD-214. Will this work or do I need the DD-214?
A: The DD-214 was not standard issue until the 1950s, so you may have a different form, especially if the veteran served in WWII. Some alternate forms include: DD Form 256CG, WD AGO 53, WD AGO 55, WD AGO 53-55, NAVPERS 553, NAVMC 78PD, NAVCG 553, and NA Form 13038 Certification of Military Service.

Q: With medical expenses, what counts? Do insurance premiums include car and auto?
A: The VA will only count recurring, fixed out-of-pocket medical expenses. Medicare deductions (e.g., Part B and Part D) and Medicare supplement (e.g., AARP Insurance) are considered. Prescription, incontinence supplies, boost, and other consistent expenses are counted at the end of the year and not with the original application, but they are helpful to submit with the claim. Non-medical expenses including life insurance do not count.

Q: How long will it take until the check arrives?
A: The VA takes approximately 6-8 months to make the decision; the direct deposit or check should be mailed within 15-days after the decision award letter is received. Remember, the VA pays retroactively to the first month following application.

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