Many seniors living in the United States qualify for VA benefits and don’t even know it! VA benefits could financially help support senior adults and their family members and dependents, and all they have to do is apply.
Veteran’s Affairs isn’t allowed to advertise their services, which is why so many benefits don’t get used by honorable senior veterans in need. Home Care Assistance located in Phoenix, Arizona, wants to change this. Below we have listed the necessary steps to take so that our heroic local seniors can get the governmental help that they have rightfully earned.
Filing a Claim & Appeal
- In order to be eligible for disability benefits, a veteran must be disabled by personal injury or disease related to active service. For a veteran to establish disability with the VA, three proofs are required:
- medical evidence of a current disability
- medical or lay evidence of injury or disease while in service
- medical evidence of a link between the in-service injury or disease and the current disability
- Once this is determined to be true, the senior must file a disability claim with the VA Regional Office in Phoenix, AZ, located at 3333 North Central Avenue.
- The VA Office makes a decision, which is mailed to the veteran. The decision includes a rating, which determines their eligibility. Once the rating is received, the veteran has one year to appeal an unfavorable rating.
- To initiate the appeal process, the veteran must file a Notice of Disagreement with the same VA Office in Phoenix. The veteran has the option of a “de novo review” by a Decision Review Officer.
- If the Officer denies the claim, or the veteran doesn’t pursue a review, the VA Regional Office mails a Statement of the Case, explaining the denial. The veteran then has 60 days to continue the appeal process by filing VA Form 9, or the remainder of the one-year period from the date of the decision, whichever is later. If the veteran doesn’t file a Notice of Disagreement within the corresponding time period, the determination becomes final.
- If the veteran does meet the deadline for the Substantive Appeal, the case is forwarded to the Board of Veteran’s Appeals (BVA). The veteran is given a hearing and the opportunity to present additional evidence. If the BVA decision is unfavorable, the veteran can decide to further appeal the decision with the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). Alternatively, the veteran can file a request with the BVA for reconsideration.
Delay in VA Claim Turnaround
There’s quite a lag time in the processing of VA claims. It can take between 6-9 months for a claim to be completed. The reason for the current delays is the increased volume of new being submitted by returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. To help mediate this problem and promote a more rapid response, veterans or their live-in Phoenix caregiversneed to complete all paperwork accurately, answer all questions completely, and provide all required information.
A veteran has the option of applying for disability compensation and/or pension benefits. They can qualify for both types, but the VA cannot pay both sets of benefits at the same time. When a veteran files the initial claim, it can be considered for both compensation and pension benefits. The VA will first award the claim that covers the greater amount.
Compensation takes the form of a monthly payment to the veteran or their surviving spouse, child, or parent. To be eligible for pension benefits, a veteran must have total and permanent disability, wartime service, and low income.
Payments are based on a veteran’s combined “rating” for their service-connected disability. The ratings reflect the severity of disability. A veteran with extreme disability can also receive additional payments, termed “special monthly compensation.”
For further information on how to apply for compensation and pension benefits, go to: http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/apply.asp.
Benefits for Late-Onset Depression
According to the VA’s National Registry for Depression, 11% of veterans age 65 years and older have a diagnosis of major depressive disorder. The incidence of depression in elderly veterans may be even higher, since not all depression is diagnosed and because the symptoms of depression and dementia are similar. A form of depression specific to veterans is post-traumatic stress disorder. If your senior veteran is exhibiting signs of depression or dementia, they should have a thorough assessment by a health care provider. Late-onset depression is treated with anti-depressant medication and psychotherapy. Veterans are also encouraged to re-engage in meaningful activity, such as volunteering, exercise, and spending time with loved ones.
Dr. Rebecca Crabb in Palo Alto is an expert on geriatric depression. She states that experienced and trained caregivers can play a vital role in averting veteran depression. She encourages caregivers to involve veterans in enjoyable activities that use their strengths and abilities.
The VA has implemented Primary Care Behavioral Health Teams for veterans to receive evaluation and short-term treatment for depression. A call to the local VA Office in Phoenix at 800-827-1000 can yield further information.
Elderly Veterans and Failing Health
Although failing health is common to all of us as we age, the challenges are harder for the veteran. The traits that are unique to servicemen and women make it more difficult to “age gracefully.” The qualities of independence, leadership, and determination can lead to frustration when faculties are waning. The VA provides certain elderly veterans an additional monetary benefit if they are eligible for a VA pension. The “Aid and Attendance” (A&A) is an increased monthly pension amount paid if a veteran meets one of the following criteria:
- There is a need for help with performing daily functions, such as bathing, dressing, or eating.
- The veteran is bedridden.
- Eyesight is limited to a corrected 5/200 visual acuity or less in both eyes.
The “Housebound” benefit is an increased monthly pension amount provided if a veteran is confined to their home due to permanent disability.
In-Home Care & Independence
These benefits can be used to help senior veterans who need in-home help from qualified professional caregivers. The senior caregivers at Home Care Assistance in Phoenix, AZ have worked with many elderly veterans and understand their unique needs and struggles. Our senior caregivers always strive to promote independence, dignity and quality of life while offering support when needed.
To learn more about our flexible and personalized care plans, please visit www.homecareassistancephoenix.com or call 602.388.1085 to schedule a free in-home consultation.