Applying for VA benefits: Do your residents know how?

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Suzette Graham
Suzette Graham

Currently, 9.5 million veterans aged more than 65 years are living in the United States.

With 41% of all senior living residents and potential residents being veterans or spouses of veterans, a significant amount of VA Pension, also known as Aid and Attendance, could be made available to help offset the their care. Seeking and receiving the right guidance is crucial in the success of an application, but it also can be considered one of the biggest holdups with this pension program.

For more than five years, advocates at Patriot Angels have provided a solution to a serious national problem: Protecting seniors from financial abuse. Under the supervision of Veterans Affairs-accredited attorneys, we have helped veterans and their spouses receive their pensions within 90 to 120 days, allowing them to live comfortably in a senior living community sooner rather than later.  

The VA Pension has the potential to dramatically affect an increase in census for senior living providers everywhere. Aid and Attendance can provide the greatest amount of financial assistance among VA Pensions. With 9.5 million veterans, the question then becomes: Why are only 0.29 of 1% currently receiving this pension, according to 2015 statistics from the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics? Because the Aid and Attendance application process can be extremely complex if you are not receiving the right guidance. As care providers, you have first touch with these residents and have the ability to guide veterans into the right hands to receive the assistance they deserve.

Some important points to know:

Fees

Some are under the impression that any fee associated with the pension process is a scam. This is misleading because it is untrue. According to the VA, only accredited attorneys and accredited agents may charge a fee.

Although fees to a disinterested third party cannot be contingent on the outcome of the claim, fees may be charged for pre-filing consultation as well as representation before any VA office or department after a decision has been made. This is important to know when referencing assistance for your residents and potential residents.

Assistance with preparation

Did you know that only the following may assist with the preparation, presentation and prosecution of a VA claim: accredited attorneys, accredited agents, veteran service organizations, Veterans Affairs regional offices and CPMC (federal representatives) and non-accredited individuals with one-time permission assigned by Form 21-22a? Paralegals and law students may assist an accredited attorney with VA claims, but they must have written permission from the claimant via Form 21-22a.

Complexity and backlog

Never underestimate the complexity of the application process or the notorious backlog within the Department of Veterans Affairs. Even if a resident has been pre-qualified and believes he or she is eligible, it is important to understand that this does not make the paperwork any easier, and it certainly will have no effect on the timeliness of the approval. In other words, using the right assistance can substantially reduce the amount of time it takes a claim to be processed to completion.

Suzette Graham founded Patriot Angels in 2012 and has dedicated her career to advocating for the vulnerable. The former Mrs. Alaska received the Heroism Award from Gov. Tony Knowles in 2000 in recognition of her lobbying efforts on behalf of children in the foster care system. To learn more about the Patriot Angels expedited service and the importance behind using the right assistance, contact Patriot Angels at (844) 757-3047, visit www.patriotangels.com or email support@patriotangels.com.

McKnight's Senior Living welcomes marketplace columns on subjects of value to the industry. Please see our submission guidelines for more information.


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