Wednesday, March 28, 2018

From the Boston Globe, A Story That Raises Lots of Questions about Timeliness of VA Aid & Attendance Benefits

The Boston Globe has a lengthy article about one couple's struggle to get VA approval for Aid & Attendance pension benefits when they transferred from their own home to a nursing home.  Oddly, the delays in approval appear to be tied, at least in part, to the contention that as both the husband and the wife were Marine veterans, the applications must be processed "simultaneously."  Is that really true?  Here are some of the key -- and often sad -- details of the family's struggle:


Moseley [an director at the couple's nursing home] said she placed several calls to the VA while Robert DiCicco [85 year-old husband] the listened from his wheelchair. Each call ended the same way — no approval, no update on where things stood, no firm information at all.


“I told them that these veterans could be homeless if it wasn’t for our home taking them in, and that they needed to be approved very soon,” Moseley said. “It wasn’t something that was very important to the VA. The disappointment that would come across his face was heartbreaking.” In her 35-year career, Moseley said, she has never handled a more difficult case involving the VA.


VA officials said the DiCicco case is complicated because, under law, pension claims for two married veterans must be processed simultaneously, and that [wife] Mary Lou DiCicco’s claim required additional, time-consuming verification of her military service. 


The VA said that “regrettably, our efforts to establish entitlement resulted in delays.”

The agency needed only 59 days on average to resolve pension claims in February, including aid and attendance requests, the VA said. The overall goal is to resolve all claims, including disability and pension applications, within 125 days — a standard that was met 91 percent of the time in fiscal 2017, said James Blue, spokesman for the VA’s North Atlantic District. 


But many veterans advocates and lawyers who work on VA claims said the process often can take 12 to 18 months. Lesa Jacob-Pollich, the veterans service officer for Saline County, where the DiCiccos live, said she watched helplessly while the family waited month after month for an answer.

For the full story, read For These Veterans, Dealing with VA Has Been A Relentless Fight, by Brian MacQuarrie for the Boston Globe, published March 24, 2018.

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