Wednesday, January 14, 2009

VA to Re-open Enrollment to 265,000 Vets | Veterans Affairs (VA) | January 12, 2009
VA To Offer Health Care to Previously Ineligible Veterans

WASHINGTON -- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today plans to re-open enrollment in its health care system by July 2009 to about 265,000 veterans whose incomes exceed current limits.

"We're pleased to be able to offer what has been called 'the best care anywhere' to many more new veterans," said Dr. James B. Peake, Secretary of Veterans Affairs. "We'll be able to provide these newly enrolled veterans with the kind of timely, high quality health care veterans who already use our system are accustomed to."

The change affects veterans whose incomes exceed the current VA means test and geographic means test income thresholds by 10 percent or less. Congress provided funds in VA's fiscal year 2009 budget to support the new enrollment.

In 1996, Congress established a priority-based enrollment system for VA and a uniform package of medical benefits for all enrollees. The legislation opened enrollment in VA's health care system to all eligible veterans and required that each year the Secretary of Veterans Affairs assess veterans' demand for services and determine if the necessary resources are available to provide timely, quality care to all enrollees.

Enrollment for the lowest priority of the eight groups--veterans who are not being compensated for a military-related disability and who have incomes above a set threshold--was suspended on January 18, 2003, although veterans in that priority group who were already enrolled for care were permitted to remain enrolled.

VA originally suspended enrollment for Priority 8 veterans because it was unable to provide all enrolled veterans with timely access to its health care due to a tremendous growth in the number of veterans then seeking enrollment. VA now plans to reopen enrollment for a portion of these veterans without compromising the Department's ability to provide high quality health care services to all enrolled veterans who are eligible for care.

VA's computer systems are being modified to accommodate the changes, and the Department is preparing communication and education materials to ensure that Congress, veterans service organizations, and the public are aware of the coming changes.

"The rule will take effect by June 30, 2009, if the regulatory process proceeds smoothly," Peake said. "We look forward to welcoming these newly eligible veterans into the VA system. VA will continue to monitor wait times to ensure the quality of care is not adversely affected."

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Statement of Senator John F. Kerry Massachusetts

Every Veteran Deserves The Best Care
Recently, we've heard media reports suggesting that our brave returning military servicemembers are getting inferior care at Walter Reed Medical Center and other facilities when they return from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s unacceptable to me and it should be unacceptable to all of us. I intend to hold the Bush Administration accountable for the failure to anticipate the number of wounded militatry and to provide adequate care and outreach to families that are already hurting.
Congress is holding hearings and several investigations are underway. In the Senate, I am talking with colleagues about setting aside additional funds to pay for imemdiate improvements and additional staff to process paperwork. I intend to make sure that our bravest from Massachusetts get the care they deserve. Since 9-11, more than 15,000 servicemembers from Massachusetts have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan; another 2,200 were there as recently as Christmas. We have nearly 477,000 veterans in our state and all of them have earned our care and respect.

I encourage any returning servicemember or family of a servicemember who is having trouble getting the kind of health-care or counseling assistance from the miltiary of VA system that they need to reach out to my office. We are here for them and we will do everything we can to insure that everyone gets the help they need.

Monday, January 5, 2009

VA Aid And Attendance Benefits Available For The Spouse Of A Veteran

Are VA Aid And Attendance Benefits Available For The Spouse Of A Veteran And, If So, How Much Can The Spouse Expect To Receive?
August 20th, 2008 · No Comments
(The following is based upon a real discussion that recently took place on an elder law listserv for attorneys. It illustrates the misinformation that is often inadvertently provided to consumers by government agency personnel concerning the availability of and eligibility criteria for needs-based public benefits.)

Question: I recently contacted the Veterans Administration (VA) about applying for Aid & Attendance Benefits (VA A&A Benefits) for my client, who is the surviving spouse of a World War II Veteran. I was told that in order to get VA A&A Benefits, the surviving spouse had to be collecting a VA pension based on the deceased spouse’s military service. The deceased spouse never received a VA pension, but he received VA medical benefits and died in a VA nursing home. Am I receiving correct information about my client’s eligibility for VA A&A Benefits? Also, if my client qualifies for VA A&A Benefits and later enters an assisted living facility, will the VA A&A Benefits make her ineligible for Medicaid by putting her over the assisted living income cap even after she spends down all of her assets and is otherwise eligible for Medicaid?

Answer: No, unfortunately you did not receive correct information. In order for your client to receive VA A&A Benefits, she must have been married to the veteran when he died. The veteran must have served at least 1 day in the military during a war time period and have served at least 90 days total in the military. Further, in order to qualify medically your client must either need assistance from another to help her with her activities of daily living, or be unsafe in her own environment without supervision. It is presumed the client needs the assistance if she lives in an assisted living facility; however, the client would still need a physician’s affidavit documenting her medical needs. If she meets all of those criteria, the client must still meet the asset and income requirements. The client’s income cannot exceed $998 per month in 2008. However, in order to qualify financially under the program, she can reduce her gross income by deducting all medical expenses, including the cost of the assisted living facility. In many cases, the assisted living facility costs alone, when deducted from her income, will reduce her income down to below $0.00. With regard to assets, the standard is whether the applicant has sufficient means to pay for her own needs, including her care needs. The informal asset limit is $80,000.

Assuming your client receives the maximum from the VA, she will get $998 per month in 2008. With regard to Medicaid, all of the VA A&A Benefits are excluded from income in New Jersey in determining eligibility for assisted living facility Medicaid. In other states, a portion of the VA A&A Benefits are considered to be “pension” and are included in the income cap calculation and the other portion is considered to be “aid and attendance” which is exempt from the income calculation. The “pension” portion is $624 per month and the A&A portion is $373 per month. In states other than NJ, once Medicaid is approved, you or the client must to notify the VA that she is receiving Medicaid by using VA Form 21-0779. Then, the VA will reduce the A&A to $90 per month which takes the place of the normal personal needs allowance. All of the $90 per month received from the VA is exempt from the Medicaid income calculation.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Voting Drive Returns To VA after Feds Lift Ban

Tjos is happening in Conn, I would like to see action by those interested in getting out the vote on Massachusetts issues appearing on the November 4 ballott when we not only pick our national leaders but also what propositions before th voters will affect Massachusetts Citizens. Who better to determine our destiny than those who served!!

October 07, 2008
Knight Ridder/Tribune

WEST HAVEN -- Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz and volunteers with the League of Women Voters will be registering voters today at the Veterans Affairs medical center for the first time since a federal ban on the practice was lifted last month.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ended its ban on voter registration drives in federal facilities last month. The ban was imposed in May and was attributed partly to the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal workers from engaging in partisan political activity.

Bysiewicz and state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal fought for the department to overturn the ban, which they called illegal. On June 30, Bysiewicz and Blumenthal were denied access to the hospital when they visited there to register patients.

League of Women Voters volunteer Nancy Ciarleglio said she will be on hand today registering veterans to vote, updating registrations and passing out absentee ballot applications.

It was not clear Monday whether the Democratic and Republican registrars of voters from West Haven would be attending the drive and passing out absentee ballots.

Ciarleglio said she wants to be able to offer in-patient veterans at the hospital the same conveniences as would be offered to someone in a nursing home.

"We are just asking to make it easier to get veterans to vote," she said.

Read more election and voter information, visit the 2008 Election Center on

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Home Loans Fund for MA Vets

Home Loans Fund for MA Vets
Week of July 14, 2008

Veterans in Massachusetts have access to low- or no-down payment mortgages under the "Home for the Brave" Program. The program will offer affordable home loans to Massachusetts veterans and will include mortgage insurance that will pay a veteran's monthly mortgage payment for up to six months if the veteran becomes unemployed or deployed on active duty. The program was developed by Mass Housing, the state's affordable housing bank. For more information, visit the website. Learn about proposed national legislation to help vets through the mortgage crisis.

Connect with lenders ready to help you refinance.
Email this page | Subscribe to Benefits Update | Print this page

Saturday, July 5, 2008



Make a real difference in America's communities.
Work to serve veterans and troops
Support our troops and Remember Our Veterans.
Remember by wearing a "buddy poppy" VFW OFFICIAL FLOWER
Support our troops and Remember our veterans by
Show Support for the nation, active-duty troops and veterans by flying the U.S> flag on all patriotic holidays.
Encourage others in your community to fly our country's most sacred symbol
Throughout the generations, veterans have protected our right to vote.
Encourage members of your community to take this civic duty seriously.
Be part of the Democratic process by working the polls on Election Day.
Offer a ride to the polls to someone who doesn't have transportation.
Schedule a visit to a lonely or ailing veteran.
Join hospital vollunteers and visit a VA medical Center.
Family Support program.
Join a grassroots campaign to keep veterans issues in the minds of lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Write Call of Visit your elected officials to esnsure their continued support for our contry's heroes.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Support our returning Middle East Veterans

>WHEREAS: Deployment in a war zone can exact a unique toll on not only those in imminent danger but also on their love ones back home.
>WHEREAS; There are mental, emotional, spiritual and relations challenges facing veterans and families before, during and after deployment.
>WHEREAS: The support for OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM is to be questioned by many throughout the USA AND THE WORLD.
>THEREFOR BE IT RESOLVED that Mass Senior Action urge the Administration. Legislators, Public Officials and all citizens enjoying their FREEDOM create a safe, unconditional, supportive environment for veterans and families and make sure resources are made readily

>Howard McGowan
>M A S C