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Help for vets, spouses in assisted living

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Column by Jim Clark

If you are a veteran or spouse of a veteran and you are in an assisted living community, or if you have a relative who is a veteran or spouse of a vet, I’m going to tell you about a program I just found out about last week.
Of course, a lot of you are smarter than I am, so you probably know about this already. But I didn’t, and it cost my dad thousands of dollars over the years he was in assisted living before he died.
The Veterans Administration, which I shall refer to as the VA, has a program under Disability Pension VA Benefits which pays so much per month to those who are qualified and are in an assisted living community (they like to be called communities, not facilities).
You have to apply for it, and you can’t apply until after you move in to an assisted living community. Once it is approved, according to one of my sources, it is retroactive to when you moved in and is paid monthly directly to the individual, not to the assisted living company.
There are certain qualifications, such has having served in time of war (even if you didn’t see combat) and receiving an honorable discharge. There are more, of course, as you would expect from a government agency. However, just the fact that some program is there is worth exploring.
I found all this out because I started investigating last week for a family member who might have to go into assisted living. I went to three different communities, and each one told me about the program. One even gave me an information sheet, which has been passed on to the relative.
What really annoys me is that in 1997, after my mother had died, we had to put my dad in assisted living because he had dementia, and we were afraid that harm might come to him if he were on his own. He was there for about seven years, in a place that has since been bought out by a different company. When we were investigating assisted living back 15 years ago, we knew very little about it.
This time we knew what to ask, and the answers were very helpful.
So if you think you might have someone who is eligible, ask the personnel, maybe the marketing director of administrator, to steer you in the right direction.
Each of the people I talked to had someone they could refer me to for getting an application.
Yes, you’re dealing with the government, so we might sarcastically say “Good luck.”
But let’s face it. If there’s a chance you can get some money out of the feds, by all means you should try.

Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen. He can be reached at editor@smcitizen.com or at 352-854-3986.