Dear PoPville – Help with VA Benefits

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“Dear PoPville,

My grandfather is a WWII veteran currently living in Florida with my grandmother. He receives a small pension from the VA as well as social security and some small distributions from his IRA’s. They own their home with no mortgage and recently my grandfather was admitted to a full time rehab facility because he now requires daily assistance to perform basic personal tasks. After some research it appears he may be qualified for the VA’s Aid and Assistance benefits. I have looked at both the VA website and spoken to numerous VA assistance professionals and keep getting conflicting info on whether their income/net worth exceeds the limits to get this benefit.

We have also received conflicting info on how to go about getting the benefits to help defray just some of the excessive costs of keeping him in the rehab facility now that Medicare refuses to pay for the expense. Is there anyone out there among your readers who may have had experience with the VA Aid and Assistance application process or who was successful in navigating these waters? We hope to get some real world info on how to actually determine whether my grandparents qualify and whether applying for these benefits will be a huge waste of our time? It is very frustrating for my family to face these hurdles.

Thanks for your time and hopefully someone out there can get my family the info we need to help my grandfather.”

23 Comment

  • Senators often have case workers in their offices to assist with questions re: social security, medicare. You may want to contact a Florida senator (contact the office that’s closest to your grandfather’s house) and see if they can help out.

    • ditto – even though a Senator can’t directly intervene in a case, their staff know most of the ins and outs of all the various programs, and they can forward any of your requests or follow ups (which means you’re more likely to receive a prompt reply!)

  • I may be wrong, but I believe there are some pro bono legal aid groups that work on veterans cases such as this, to ensure that vets are receiving the support they deserve. You may want to contact Florida Legal Services for resources.

  • Call your senator or representatives office. They will be able to help.


    William & Mary Law School has a clinic that can assist with filling in and following up on such requests. Somewhere closer to Florida would be best, but they may be able to refer to to a provider in FL.

  • andy

    Every Senator’s staff has a caseworker who does nothing but military benefits. In Florida, there are probably many on each Senator’s staff.

  • Contact their Representative’s district office and they will assign it to the veteran’s caseworker.

  • I will add to the chorus: contact the relevant member of Congress. We got an excellent and swift response when we were struggling with VA issues with my father-in-law. House member, too, so that is an option in addition to Senator. Good luck.

  • The rehab facility should also have a social worker on staff that can be of assistance in dealing with issues like this.

  • In response to what everyone has said, but with a little more detail: yes, absolutely contact your grandfather’s member of Congress. You can find that person here: (you will need the 5-digit ZIP code plus 4-digit extension; if you know the address you can find the exact ZIP+4 with a quick google search). Contact the DISTRICT OFFICE closest to your grandfather. Ask for a caseworker who can assist you with veteran’s benefits.

    You can go to either your Senator or Representative; I would recommend the Representative because they are working with a smaller geographic area and thus fewer people. The Senator can be your back-up if you are not getting results from the Rep’s office.

    Good luck!

  • This article gives a good overview:

    The application process can take over a year, but the benefits are paid from the date of application so if approved, your grandparents would get a big check up front. Sometime Congresspeople can help, but there are just too many applicants for the number of VA administrators.

    Often, health care providers such as assisted living communities and home health care providers will help direct you to local lawyers who can help with the application process for a small fee. Technically, lawyers can’t charge the veterans themselves, but they can charge family members. My experience is that they charge about $1000, but that include the necessary annual re-application process.

    Good luck.

  • If only to emphasize the critical first step: contact his member of Congress (House is likely going to be better than Senate).

    • Wonder how EH Norton does with requests like this since she’s a one-woman show (in terms of not having a Rep + 2 Senators to pick from)?

      • Rep. Norton has staff who handle this sort of stuff too, just like any other Member, so it’s not like she’s a total one woman show. DC residents should contact her if they’re having problems with a federal agency.

        Also, a Member of Congress can not only help guide you along the process, they also can intervene on your behalf and work directly with the VA.

  • binpetworth

    BenefitsCheckUp ( would be a useful tool for your grandfather as well. It’s a free, comprehensive online screening service with over 2000 public and private programs (including VA), that allows him to enter specific income/asset info and get a quick read on what he might qualify for. It may not have all of the veterans’ benefits, but can give a good overview on other areas (respite care, tax relief) where he can save money.

  • Independent Living Centers are free, local non-profits run by people with disabilities. They help people with disabilities with issues like this every single day…the fact that your grandfather is in a rehab facility will qualify him right off the bat. Here’s a list of Centers in Florida. Look for one near your grandfather’s home or rehab facility and give them a call. I trust they’ll be able to help.

  • I know a number of fellow veterans have had excellent luck accessing their VA benefits using the services of Disabled American Veterans (DAV). Their National Service Officers specialize in your circumstances and often reside in the actual VA offices. They can provide you expert factual information on eligibility and help you file claims. Since he is already registered with the VA and receiving VA benefits, the process usually goes much smoother than an initial request for benefits. Information on contacting them can be found here:

  • I’m sorry your family is facing this. It’s never easy. My dad was a vet of the Korean war and when he had to go into a nursing home the VA couldn’t help him much. Sad, but true. Same thing happened to my uncle who served in WWII. My parents had long term insurance but that lasted only a year and after that was up, my dad went on Medicaid. It took about 6 months for the benefits to get approved so my mother started early and enlisted the help of an elder care attorney. If your Grandma is still alive, an atty will help put the property and money in your Grandma’s name. It’s not the cheapest route, but it’s worth it in terms of the hassle of ushering through all of the paperwork involved with such things. Good luck with all of it.

  • Definitely call Bill Nelson’s office. I interned in the Tallahassee office, and worked with their main FL office in Orlando, which handled cases like this. Bill definitely looks out for veterans, and the staff handles stuff like this all the time.

  • Some time ago Michelle Singletary wrote about Veteran’s Benfits in her WaPo column. She was researching options for her father in law. Check out her Color of Money archive, the info should still be there.

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