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All too many times overwhelmed caregivers are physically and emotionally depleted and need to take time to rest and care for themselves. Believing in a holistic approach to caregiver stress and a strong commitment to helping our members find the right solutions, we created this blog to help you connect with others who, like you, may be facing the same eldercare issues and challenges. Feel free to comment, ask questions, and submit articles. Please forward the blog link to your family and friends. They'll be glad you did.

Warm regards,

Patricia Grace
founder & CEO
Aging with Grace

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Insuring the Maximum VA Aid & Attendance Pension for a Veteran or Surviving Spouse

By: Rita Files, Accredited Veteran Claim Agent

You have completed the an eligibility questionnaire which should always be the first step of the process of filing for VA Benefits for Housebound or Aid & Attendance. Now what?

The application process for Veteran Pension commonly referred to as the “VA Aid & Attendance Benefit”, at first glance can be overwhelming for some people since this may be their first interaction with the VA system since the day they were discharged. For many more, it takes time to gather all the necessary documentation and complete the application paperwork. Then there are those Veterans that avoid applying all together rather than take on this daunting task.

Since many people seeking VA Pension do so for the supplemental income to offset the cost of eldercare services through home care or assisted living, they are anxious to learn if they will be awarded the benefit and hastily complete the VA form, without much attention to detail. By doing so, they stand a good chance of submitting a claim that is not well grounded or fully supported; causing many months of delays and in some cases, even denial.

Relax! There is a solution. You can place the VA on notice of your intention to file a claim, secure an effective date plus allow 1 year in which to complete the formal claim process by filing what is called “an informal claim”. An informal claim is some type of communication to the VA in which you state your intention to apply for benefits. I suggest using VA form 4138. This can either be completed & submitted online or downloaded and mailed to the VA. If mailed, make sure you send it via certified mail with return receipt and make a copy for yourself!

When you file an informal claim with VA, you need to clearly identify the benefit for which you intend to apply for, give the VA your SSN and dates and branch of service, in the case of a surviving spouse; this would be the Veteran information under whom you are applying. Once received and acknowledged by the VA, this becomes the effective date. As long as you send the VA your formal claim within the one year of that date and your claim is approved, that date becomes the day your eligibility to receive the Pension benefit starts. Since the VA Pension is retroactive to the date you notified the VA of your intention to file a claim, this could mean a substantial amount of money in retroactive benefits. Payments for retroactive benefits are made back to the first of the month following the month of the effective date.

On the other hand, if you are well prepared to complete the formal application VA 21-526 (Veteran) or VA 21-534 (Surviving spouse) in short order, you are way ahead of things and that would be the most expeditious way to go.

1 comment:

  1. Two years ago my sister-in-law's father was in an Assisted Living and they told him he would have to move because he was out of money. I shared with my sister-in-law the information about the VA program, she contacted them and he father was eligible for VA funds, and they went retro six funds. He died about a year later in the AL of natural causes. However, because he was able to receive VA benefits, he could enjoy his life in the AL instead of moving to a nursing home.

    Thanks for continuing to educate people about the VA benefits. so many Veterans are not aware of this valuable resource that they are so deserving of!.


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