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Client Success Stories
VINCE HALLORAN of Flintstone, Georgia, is an Air Force veteran who served during the Vietnam War. Initially, Vince was skeptical as to whether we could help them. So, Davis directed him to a video where Davis explained how the VA pension benefit worked. Later, Vince sent Davis an email saying the following.
"When I first seen the video of you discussing VA, A&A I had doubts but before it was completed the light received through that handsome smile our Heavenly Father's Grace had blessed the Halloran family and will continue the Good Works whom He has done in and through you. Thank you for taking my hand and lifting me and my family (what a load) closer to The Upward Cloud Views."
Davis recognized that Vince and his wife were facing some major challenges. Vince had been diagnosed with end stage kidney failure and in need of dialysis frequently. But Vince's limited savings meant that he couldn't pay the full cost of such treatment after Medicare paid its portion and he couldn't pay for a Medicare Supplement insurance policy. As a result, Vince wasn't getting all the treatment that he needed.
Vince reached out to us because, he was desperate. And events had not been aware of the VA pension benefit until he saw a small add we had placed in a local neighborhood newspaper. Many of our clients tell us that they weren't aware of this benefit until we brought it to their attention. VA does a very poor job of promoting this benefit. As a result, there may be millions of veterans and their widows who could benefit from this program if only they knew about it.
Like nearly all of our clients, Vince was concerned that he might have to enter a nursing home prematurely just to get all the care he really needed. Yet, like all those clients, he preferred to remain living at home. So that became our primary goal while making sure he would get all of the care he needed.
We immediately began preparing Vince's claim for VA benefits. We knew that VA would expedite Vince's claim as a result of Vince's terminal illness. At the same time, we began the legal planning which would enable Vince earn the maximum available pension for a married veteran. Our work enabled Vince to earn an "aid and attendance" medical rating, earned him the maximum pension amount ($26,034 per year in 2018), and tailored his care plan so he would always live at home. Vince's pension award arrived in six weeks after first contacting us.
Vince now receives daily care from his son rather than having to enter a nursing home to receive that same level of care. His VA benefits are tax-free. Let's let Vince describe his experience in his own words:
"On Monday, I received arm Fisula for dialysis and they put one Cat Port from neck to chest to use until arm heals. I had been in emergecy 2 times, bp 230 they kept me 2 days and going to my first Dialysis 1:30 PM today. I kinda now, understand what my friends and family mean when they say "Vince, your full of it.
"And speaking of papers... A shout out to you for the notebook tips. I now have 5 notebooks and both in book and ten page hole cutters. Ashley is keeping a 24 point daily log. Grandson 20 year grandson living and helping here at home. He recently completed a fireman Course and is going to to take a 6 month EMS course. I wish I could persuade every client to follow your model!"
Beulah S. of Ball Ground, Georgia, was the widow of a World War II veteran. Her husband had died in the late 1990s, and Beulah had not remarried. When Beulah came to us, we learned that her biggest challenges were her fear of being forced to go into a nursing home and her advancing dementia. Like nearly all of our clients, Beulah wanted to continue living at home for a long as she could.
In addition, Beulah suffered from other ailments such as arthritis, bladder incontinence and a risk of fallin due to balance issues. Fortunately, Beulah had two loving daughters willing to care for their mother in her home. The family had little savings and not enough income to pay for a third party caregiver. So, VA Pension benefits would be just the right solution — monthly cash to cover costs of care.
The family reached out to us because they felt that they had exhausted every other possible. When they called they explained that they weren't hopeful that a perfect solution would be available. But, after we explained that, with some legal planning a properly filed VA Pension claim, we could see that Beulah would be able to continue living at home, still get all of the care she needed, and enable her to fully pay for that care. This was exactly what the family was hoping for.
First, we filed a claim, asking the VA to grant priority approval of her claim due to Beulah's advanced age (87). Her claim was approved in less than six weeks. This happens only if a perfect claim is filed which includes all evidence needed to answer every eligibility requirement.
While waiting for VA to act on Beulah's claim, we showed the family how to keep records of care, how to be alert for financial changes which could jeopardize Beulah's continuing eligibility, and to recognize situations when they should contact us for help. Even after our work was done, we continued to send periodic reminders to the family of what they must do and be alert for.
Beulah was awarded the maximum Pension benefit (in 2018, that is $1,176 per month). That benefit is also tax-free.
Recently Beulah passed away. Her daughter, Brenda H., send us an email. Here is what she told us:
"My mother passed away on May 14, 2018. I just wanted to say that the veterans check that she has been receiving for the past year, thanks to you and Mr. Nelson, has really been a great help. We were able to get everything that she needed. Her last year was made so much more happy and comfortable due to the extra money. I cannot thank you and Mr. Nelson enough for helping us get all the paper work done. God Bless you both."
Emails and letters like this are why we do the work that we do.
Marla Ponder of Talladega, Alabama, stepdaughter of a married World War II veteran.
In many ways, this veteran is typical. He was mentally very sharp, but quite frail physically. His wife was unable to help them with all of his physical needs because of her own physical limitations. If the veteran couldn't find a way to get the care he needed at home, he would have to consider going into a nursing home prematurely.
As is often the case, Marla and her family were unaware that they were a perfect candidate for VA Pension benefits. It was only after seeing a small add we had placed in a local newspaper that they contacted us.
Fortunately, his stepdaughter stepped up and offered to provide for his needs by being his designated caregiver. This meant that the veteran wouldn't have to pay for care outside the family. Under VA rules, a family member can provide long-term care services to a VA Pension beneficiary even though they are not a licensed medical professional. So, we began planning to exploit the rules to the veteran's advantage.
We also provided support to Marla so she could be an effective caregiver and advocate on behalf of of her stepfather. In addition, we showed her how to keep good records as a caregiver to justify the monthly care fee her stepfather paid to her. We also explain how she could supplement her parents income by returning a part of the care fee to her parents as family support. We guided Marla in creating a budget for her parents that would justify the family support payments under the VA rules and, if needed, later for Medicaid purposes as well.
Marla's stepfather was awarded the maximum available VA Pension for a married veteran ($2,169 per month in 2018). The benefit is also tax-free.
Here is what Marla said about our work:
"Thank you Davis for all your help. I wish I could have videoed and sent you his reaction to getting his first check. It was priceless...he almost cried but I did get a hug like I'll never forget."
Dan McWilliams of Cumming, Georgia, son of a Korean conflict widow.
When Dan first came to us, he had already spent nearly 2 1/2 years working on his mother's VA Pension claim. He had recently received a denial of her claim, so he wanted to see whether there was anything we could do for him. Davis assured him that we could help him achieve eligibility for his mother and that he thought we could earn his mother the maximum available VA Pension benefit ($1,176 per month in 2018).
During the past two years, Dan had spent down nearly all of his mother's IRA and had already lost about $30,000 in VA Pension benefits. Altogether, Dan had unnecessarily spent down and lost about $80,000 unnecessarily. Davis advised him that there was nothing we could do about the past, but we could still earn a full VA Pension benefit for his mother.
Unfortunately, stories like this are common. Many "do-it-yourselfers" lose large sums of money and lost benefits thinking that they can handle both a VA claim and any accompanying legal planning without legal help. As a Dan told us, "As a CPA, I thought I could handle submitting paperwork to the government. However, I quickly learned that gathering the required documents was a small part of the process. Davis helped me sort through all the nuances of the VA procedures and six months later, my mother received an award letter. We lost many months’ worth of benefits as I struggled to figure things out; I recommend everyone get help at the very beginning."
Dan's mother now receives every dollar of VA Pension benefits to which she is entitled.
Michael Bunger of Chicago, Illinois, son of a Korean conflict veteran.
Michael reached out to us because he had been referred to us by a former client. Michael was unaware of the VA Pension program until his friend brought it to his attention.
Michael's father was quite elderly, frail and nearly blind. Fortunately, his father lived in the Atlanta area with a woman who loved and cared for Michael's father. In fact, this was an ideal situation for VA Pension benefits. In this situation, we had a wartime veteran in need of care and someone who lived in the household who would be an ideal caregiver. Because the veteran and the woman who cared for him were unrelated, the veteran could pay his companion for his care and treat that payment as a medical expense. That would increase the veteran's medical expenses so as to earn the veteran the maximum available VA Pension benefit.
This arrangement was ideal for keeping the veteran out of a nursing home while costing the veteran nearly nothing for his care.
Because the veterans financial situation was quite simple, we were able to file a VA Pension claim as well as complete the necessary legal planning in less than three weeks. Due to the veteran's advanced age, we were able to request the VA expedite the veteran's claim.
The veteran's claim was approved in less than two months and the veteran now receives the maximum available pension for a single veteran $1,830 per month in 2018). That benefit is tax-free.
Here is what Michael said to us in an email. "Davis, great news and that was faster than anticipated! We can't thank you enough for all your help and you have been an amazing and compassionate person!"