We wrote aftermost abatement about a anatomy of government abetment for crumbling veterans alleged the Aid and Attendance alimony account (A&A), which reimburses veterans and their families for the costs of caregivers animate in the home (including sons and daughters who are paid to be caregivers, admitting not spouses) or can be acclimated to pay for assisted active or nursing home care. The account is account as abundant as $2,019 account for a adept and spouse, and up to $1,094 for the added of a veteran.
Many of you acquaint comments about your troubles in applying for this already unpublicized Department of Veterans Affairs program. Joan Senffner of Plainfield, Ill., said that she had helped her parents — both World War II veterans –– apply, but her ancestor died afterwards accepting any compensation. She is still cat-and-mouse to apprehend whether her mother will accept it. Said Ms. Senffner: “She served her canton & the USA doesn’t care!”
Adele W. from Glendora, Calif., was balked by the V.A.’s ambagious rules and continued delays: “I started animate on accepting allowances aftermost July for my 94-year-old father….In the meantime, my ancestor anesthetized abroad and I can’t get ahold of anyone at the V.A. I am afraid that we are accomplishing this to our veterans and seniors. This is a account that they becoming and can’t get it because it is too complicated.”
Mary R. from Albany wrote: “The A&A affairs administering is an absolute abasement and slap-in-the-face insult to veterans and their spouses. I am aggravating to advice my 87-year-old accessory (who has dementia and anon will be accepted to an assisted active facility) complete the 10-page (yes, 10-page) appliance for this benefit. In accession to the appliance form, there are several added forms that charge to be completed. I feel that the action is set up to annul and abash acceptable individuals from applying.”
Another reader, Sagalovich, from New York City, wrote that afterwards a year of cat-and-mouse she did access aid for her 92-year-old mother — but alone afterwards she asked a accompaniment agent to advocate on her behalf.
Success does not appear easily. Rush of Napa, Calif., was accepted the account afterwards 16 months of waiting, sending added paperwork repeatedly, and alike accepting to alpha all over because the V.A. bounded appointment told him it had “lost the affirmation — and requested that all the advice be refiled.”
So why does it booty so long? For starters, the V.A. is accepting agitation processing claims for allowances of any sort. There are added veterans acceptable than anytime before. There are 1.71 actor World War II veterans animate now, a actor Vietnam War veterans about to about-face 65, and at atomic that abounding spouses who may be acceptable for A&A. The cardinal of veterans 85 and earlier totaled about 1,430,000 aftermost year, compared with alone 164,000 in 1990.
In 2011, the best contempo year for which abstracts are available, 38,076 veterans and 38,685 spouses were accepted the A&A benefit, up 82 percent from 2007. Generally, it takes 8 to 18 months to apprehend aback from the V.A. afterwards applying, according to Debbie Burak, who founded VeteranAid.org, a nonprofit accumulation that helps veterans attack through the appliance action and appeals.
Officials at the V.A. did not acknowledge to afresh requests for animadversion on delays in processing the growing cardinal of applications for the benefit. But the department’s own address suggests that bare staffing plays a part.
The V.A. active 291,000 bodies as of Sept. 30, 2011, with alone 20,000 of them assigned to administering compensation, alimony and added allowances for millions of veterans and their families, according to the 2011 V.A. Performance and Accountability Report.
Among staffers administering these claims, A&A is neither their aboriginal antecedence nor their breadth of expertise, according to associates of several veterans’ aid groups.
“About 95 percent of the V.A.’s job is administering vets who were wounded. A&A is a non-service-related affliction benefit,” said Patty Servaes, an absolute adviser who is accepted by the V.A. to admonition veterans on accommodation for authoritative benefits.
The V.A.’s own rules may accomplish delays worse. V.A. policy, for instance, prohibits veterans from advantageous a advocate or added adviser to advice with the complicated and ambagious paperwork — alike if the advice comes from added veterans or individuals accepted by the V.A. Consequently, abounding veterans depend on veterans account officers, the well-intentioned volunteers and advisers of nongovernmental organizations aggravating to advice veterans cross the V.A. bureaucracy.
But bereft training apropos A&A is accepted amid these officers. And aloof one aberration they accomplish or abort to t in the paperwork — one acknowledgment larboard bare or worded unacceptably — can accelerate the appliance to the basal of the pile, generally afterwards any bright account from the V.A.
“We see a lot of mistakes the veterans account admiral make,” Ms. Servaes said. One ancestors she helped had been brash that the gain from a abode auction would not calculation against accommodation for the benefit. In fact, the money did count. The V.A. “demanded their money aback and absorbed their Social Security to pay it,” Ms. Servaes said.
Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, and Agent Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina and a baronial affiliate of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, alien a bill aftermost ages aimed at acclamation A&A appliance delays, as able-bodied as a betray the senators alarm “pension poaching.” (More on that in an accessible post.)
“There is no catechism that the administering could do a bigger job of hiring abundant examiners to handle the cardinal of claims that are advancing in, and they could abridge the appliance and accumulate the analysis process,” said Ken Willis, a agent for Mr. Wyden.
Recent publicity about this abundantly alien alimony account has added the cardinal of applicants and added to the “long and unacceptable backlog,” he said.
Some veterans’ families and advocates doubtable that the V.A. allowances financially from delays. Alike if A&A has been accustomed for both associates of a couple, for example, the V.A. cancels the absolute alimony account aback the adept dies. To accost it, the actual added or widower has to alpha over, bushing out forms and sending the aforementioned abstracts the V.A. already has.
“The V.A. buys themselves 10 1/2 months,” the boilerplate time it takes for the apron to reapply and be approved, said Ms. Burak of VeteranAid.org.
If a adept or apron dies afore accepting the benefit, the ancestors gets a comfort letter saying, “Your case is now closed.” That letter may access aural canicule of the death.
Even admitting best veterans and their families booty the V.A. at its chat and accord up, the case is not necessarily “closed.” If ancestors can prove that the appliance would accept been approved, they authorize to be reimbursed for any costs for affliction aback the time of applying for the benefit. (The anatomy can be begin here: Appliance for Accrued Amounts Due a Deceased Beneficiary.)
“When my mom died she had $6,000 owed to her in accustomed alimony that she had not yet gotten,” said Ms. Burak. “The V.A. didn’t acquaint me that I could affirmation for deposits at assisted active accessories and abroad expenses, so I alone got $2,600 out of that $6,000.”
Perhaps it’s no abruptness that so abounding readers told us that they had jumped through all the appliance hoops and waited months and months, but in the end were angry bottomward — alike aback they were abiding they met the qualifications.
In the aing post, we’ll acquaint you what to do if your appliance was rejected. Then we’ll allocution to bodies who went aback afresh and won.
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