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Topic VA Benefits Go to previous topic Go to next topic Go to higher level

By Michele On 2011.10.05 09:39
I just found out that my husband is eligible for benefits from the VA. It seemed that our income was above the level to qualify for any benefits and he did not have any other qualifying factors. upon getting the decision letter, it cited "catastrophically disabled" conditions. Essentially a condition that compromises ability to carry out ADLs, being homebound, needing mechanical assistance, and constant supervision to avoid harm. All of which he meets. I'm getting a letter from his neuro to fax to them and hopefully will be eligible by Nov. He will be eligible for a home health aide four hours daily, 30 days of respite, and of course, treatment at the VA hospital (the travel would be too stressful though). I'm really excited about this and wanted to pass it on. I'll keep you posted as to when he actually get this benefit.

By plcpainter On 2011.10.05 11:50
Wonderful news Michele! I too thought we were slightly above the income level but now I'm filled with hope that perhaps my husband CAN qualify!? Who did you contact to start this process? How long did it take? My local county expert for the aging suggested hiring legal help to navigate the VA system. Did you go this route? Fingers crossed this all works out for you and your husband. My fellow was on the front lines in Korea, earned a Purple Heart, and could use the assistance at this time in his life. Thanks for the post.

By LotsaBob On 2011.10.05 13:56
Being a veteran, I have used the VA system a couple of times and most recently a lot since I was diagnosed with DM II, PD,IHD and PTSD. I really don't think that there is an income level to use the VA. You may have to pay a co-pay for Dr's visits and perscriptions but the only qualifying thing is that you are a veteran with an honorable discharge. So with that said. All you have to have is the veterans DD 214 form. Next step is to visit your local or nearest VA office or medical facility. They will help you file the proper papers to get your VA card. You do not need to hire any legal help to navigate the VA system.
Now, if your health problems are SC (service connected) you need to contact your local VA office to start your claim. My experience is that is when the nightmare starts. Of course my problems are all AO (agent orange) related. So with that in mind it is a whole new ballgame.
Yesterday, my wife and I went to the VA clinic here in Redding, Ca. and applied for Home Care for me. We were told it takes between three and six months and a Life Alert system comes with it at no extra charge. We were never asked about income. I hope this is helpfull for you. Just be patient and it will all come together.

By Michele On 2011.10.05 16:05
LotsaBob, I wasn't clear when I said that my husband wasn't eligible for benefits. He was placed in Enrollment Priority Group 8 - gross household income above the national and geographically adjusted threshhold and is not elilgible for benefits at this time (see below for explanation). If evaluated as "catastrophically disabled" he will be in Enrollment Priority 4, which I am told will qualify him for four hours of home health care a day and respite.
plcpainter - As your husband has a purple heart (you must be so proud) he will qualify for Enrollment Priority 3 - not sure what specific benefits he would be entitled to. I applied online. Go to and on the home page look for: Enroll/Update Medical Benefits (10-10EZ)
The application is lengthy and extensive but easy to follow and you can save and go back and pick up where you left off. You can also print it. You will get a confirmation number after you submit it online. (If you find this daunting, take Bob's advice and go to your nearest VA office).
I waited five months and then emailed the VA hospital in my area (Phila/South Jersey) to follow up. I got a canned response but got a phone number. I called and got a person who told me he would be in Priority 8 and not elibible for any benefits. I got a letter a few weeks later from Dept of Veteran Affairs in Atlanta that said that the VA made the decision to stop enrolling new Priority Group 8 (high income) vets to assure all Vets are provided timely and quality medical care. It was later reopened to vets whose income exceeded the VA national threshold by 10% or less. With no other qualifying eligibilities, my husband was denied enrollment. A Purple Heart IS a qualifying eligibility. The letter enclosed a description of Enrollment Priority Groups which is where I saw
Enrollment Priority 4
Vets who are receiving aide and attendance or housebound benefits
Vets who have been determined by the VA to be catastrophically disabled.
They describe catastrophically disabled as a permanent, severely disabling injury or condition that compromises ability to carry out ADLs and require personal or mechanical assistance to leave home or bed or require constant supervision to avoid physical harm.
It advised contacting the Enrollment Coordinator at the local VA health care facility which I did. She told me that he could go there or have his neuro send a letter and release form. I'm working on that now.
Good luck with this. If you would like to email me directly with questions, please feel free to contact me at:

By LotsaBob On 2011.10.05 17:01
I have to admit that I was totally unaware of the eight priority Groups. I have been in the system since the 1990's. The eight priority groups must be fairly new.

By Michele On 2011.10.05 17:29
Bob, I read that AO was proven to be linked to PD. I hope you are receiving compensation for this.

By LotsaBob On 2011.10.05 17:59
Michele, DM II and IHD are settled claims from AO. My PD claim has been in the process for 18 months now and I found out three weeks ago that the VA lost or misplaced my claim. When I was awarded my IHD claim the VA said I was incompetent. So they are holding my retro for that which is in the same lost file with my PTSD and PD claim. The VA is treating me for the PD. With the DM II and IHD, I am at 60% disabled and all medications are free. The PD and PTSD should put me over 100%.....

By Michele On 2011.10.06 14:31
Bob, wow, what a mess it is dealing with the VA. how frustrating! Keep us post on any progress.

By LotsaBob On 2011.10.06 15:26
Michele, My experience with the VA is that if they tell you that you should hear something in a month, add three months onto that. The VA works in a mysterious way. Say for instance: when I got my DM II award they rated me at 40%. Then when my IHD award came in they rated me 100% for three month and then dropped it down to 30%. You would think that your rating would be 70%. But no,no, VA math says it would be a total of 60%. Go figure.

I might add one thing. For those of you who are dealing with veterans. There is a really good website that is very helpful in dealing with the VA. I should add that it is mainly for veterans exposed to AO and PTSD. It's called Veterans Benefits Network. Just FYI...........

By Michele On 2011.10.07 13:25
To apply to the VA for medical benefits online - I previously gave the wrong link. Here is the correct link.
go to:
on the homepage, look for the link:
Enroll/Update Medical Benefits (10-10EZ)
I revised this in my 10/5/11 post.

By parkinit On 2011.10.09 11:24
We, too, are Agent Orange, service related through the VA. We navigated and were tenacious. We have 30 days respite care per year, are on the list for "aid and assistance" which everyone should check out (especially service-related). Unfortunately, there are long waiting lists for the home services, so I've been told. BUT, please check into "prosthetics" when and if you reach the time to need them. The VA doctor has been most helpful to get us assistance with:

* catheters, bags, adult diapers
* manual AND powerchair and lift installed in truck
* waterproof pads for the bed (even with a waterproof mattress pad, we need these for the side of the bed)
* meds were at a reduced rate until the service-connected 100% disability was declared and now they are free.
* no property taxes, no sales tax (this is only if 100% disabled).
*yearly clothing allowance for wear and tear on clothing due to wheelchairs.

I understand that we could also request *hoyer lift, etc. as the need arises. Search for "VA Prosthetics" and it should bring up the VA web site for this. The website appears to be down just this minute, so I cannot give you the exact web site. I'll update when their servers come back up.

By monopoly17 On 2011.10.10 21:15
My Husband has Parkinsons and dementia. He doesn't know where he is half the time and is always falling. He can't be left alone. He has a really bad drooling problem and incontinent. We applied to the Va and they said we make too much money....I'm disabled also and have been taking care of him. We have someone come in 3 days a week we pay for and Kaiser sends someone 2 days a week. the two days he just gets a shower. On the three days I get to run errands while he gets his shower. He's getting alot harder to take care of. We have an appeal in process with the VA.I sure hope this helps. Dr. said he needs full time care. What do you all think?Are ours chances any good?

By LotsaBob On 2011.10.10 23:40
I did some checking today with the VA. They started the priority thing in 2003. I have been in the system since the mid 90's. I think that if I was to try to enroll in the VA today I would be like you folks. I guess I am grandfathered-in.
From what I learned today there are exceptions to every rule. You just have to ask. If you have a catostrophic problem you can request a waiver to the rules. I would guess that some of the people at the VA are unaware of that. If I'm not mistaken you fill out the proper forms and if you are denied you request an appeal or waiver. The VA is "BIG" on appeals. That's what they spend most of time working on anyway. I know from experience. I've got five of them in the works right now. I would give it a shot, it can't hurt.

By parkinit On 2011.10.11 11:41
Monopoly - Did he serve in VietNam? That is a clincher for getting benefits related to the Parkinsons. From my understanding, you could also apply for a VA nursing home whether service-related or not.

Call your local VA and speak to a social worker. They are supposed to help you navigate the system as a caregiver. I'ved leaned on mine heavily and requested her assistance when she answered, "I'm not sure; I don't know the answer; I don't know how," I forced the issue and always said, "Well, can you find out and get back to me?" That is their job. If she didn't follow up with me, I called her to follow up. She has been quite helpful and she is learning in the process as well, which hopefully, will help other caregivers in the long run.

By Michele On 2011.10.11 12:00
Parkinit - you said that you are on the list for "aid and assistance." Does the VA send their own aides for care? Is it through a local agency? How does this work? How long have you been on the list?

By LotsaBob On 2011.10.11 12:37
The VA does have their own assistance people. My wife and I applied for it last week. The social worker said it takes about six months to get approved if you qualify. There is also no cost to you. The social worker will ask a bunch of questions.
Now there is another way to get assistance if you are service connected. You have to go back to your VSO and request "aid & assistance." He /she will give you a form to have your VA provider fill out and you take it back to your VSO and he/she will file the claim with the VA. If you are approved they will pay you around $1100.00 a month. Then you can get your own assistance person. I have no idea how long this process take. I have applied for it also, so I am treading on new ground. If I get the "Aid & Assistance" with the VA, I will drop the Social worker assistance program. So we are talking about two different intities of the VA system.

By Michele On 2011.10.11 15:28
LotsaBob, what is a VSO? Are you saying that after my husband is approved (hopefully) we go to a VSO and request "aid and assistance?" That is how I would want to go.

By LotsaBob On 2011.10.11 16:14

1) A VSO is (Veterans Service Officer) You can find one at your local VA Office. Here in Redding, Ca. the Veterans office is run by Shasta County. I don't know if it is the same in all states. You will have to check your phone book to find out.

2) Yes, but your veteran I believe has to be 100% disabled "or" is in a catastrophic state where you can request a waiver.

3) Let me back up a bit. Have you filed all the papers with the VA for service connected disability for Parkinson's Disease? Has your veteran been awarded said disability yet? If yes to one or both, then answer number (2) applies. I think I have everything listed. Good luck. I should add: If You just applied for service connected disability (which can take up to a year or more because of the work load. I would do what I have done. I think I posted one spot above your last post.

By parkinit On 2011.10.11 17:25
Michele -

Yes, if the Veteran is determined "homebound" which mine is, you can apply for aid and assistance. We've been waiting several months already.
Here is the link:

My understanding is that if a Veteran is determined 100% disability, service-connected, the financial criteria is waived. Mmost states offer additional breaks. In Oklahoma, we don't have to pay sales tax or property taxes, but again, even after being determined 100% disabled, this apparently takes time. I keep calling and the Veterans Admin. say, "This takes time." We've applied for this several months ago as well. Too bad you can't just take your 100% declaration letter to the state for these, but they make it so much more complex than this.

By Michele On 2011.10.12 15:02
lotsabob and parkinit, thanks so much for your help. After reading it all, my head hurts. I did just file and am waiting for a letter from my husband's neuro to send in. So - it looks like I'm in for a long haul. I'm going to find a VSO or equivalent here in South Jersey to help also.
Thanks again.

By LotsaBob On 2011.10.12 15:30
Be careful when you go in to talk to a VSO. While waiting to see him/her ask the other people in the lobby who their VSO is. If you get a name that is repeated several times. That is probably the best VSO there and ask to see him/her. Like I said before. There are good ones and there are bad ones. Good luck and keep us posted. Bob............

By janol On 2011.10.12 20:49
VA benefits have given us an aide 3 times a week for 2 hours.She bathes him, and makes the bed, and anything else she can do.
We got a hospital bed . I ordered sheets from a web site and they are great.

Also diapers. The diapers are the tab kind.
I hate them ! Does anyone get the pull-ups from the VA ?
I am so grateful for what they ARE giving us, that I feel silly asking for the pull-ups. But, boy are they better, and easier, and nicer !

I think you are all doing so wonderful with your Parkinson's person ! I try to pray for the whole group. I admire all of you---- you are angels.

By LotsaBob On 2011.10.21 09:27
Michele: Have you found yourself a VSO yet?

By Michele On 2011.10.21 23:13
LotsaBob, I have found my local VSO. I have not been able to actually talk to him/her yet. My husband's neuro has just faxed a letter to the VA center in my area. I will be in touch with the VSO soon. Thanks again for the good advice. I'll keep you posted on how I'm doing.

By parkinit On 2011.10.30 17:42
janol -

Yes, the VA only provides the diaper-style protection for incontinence. I actually called the VA and asked about the pull-up kind and lobbied that their servicemen deserved better treatment than the diapers if they were not totally bed-bound . . . yada yada yada. Additionally, I said it was wasteful as they had to tear up the diaper kind every time they go to the restroom, etc. The VA said they were not allowed any more than the diaper kind to distribute.

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