Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What Difference Does It Make if the Client Is a #Veteran? None if You Don’t Ask About Veteran Status

Attorney Mary Ellen McCarthy writes:
"Often I hear that legal aid advocates “don’t see many veterans issues.” I believe that this occurs because advocates often fail to ask if the client is a veteran or a family member of a veteran.
The failure to inquire about veterans status results in a failure to recognize potential eligibility for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits that might help resolve other legal problems.
For example, a veteran who is ineligible for Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) due to resources may qualify for VA health care and VA pension. For a client who is unable to make rent and utility payments, a VA pension may enable the client to afford these living expenses.
But if advocates don’t ask about veterans status, the client won’t tell..."
Read more at What Difference Does It make if  the Client Is a Veteran? None if You  Don’t Ask About Veteran Status from Clearinghouse Review. This article includes a Quick Screening Guide for eligibility for various programs, something you'll want to add to your intake interviews:
Quick Screening Guide

I. Screen for Veteran Eligibility
Are you a veteran or the dependent spouse, child, adult dependent child, or dependent parent of a veteran?
If yes, does the veteran receive any cash benefits or health care from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)?
If yes, advise the veteran to contact VA to inquire if additional benefits may be available.
If no, does the veteran believe that the veteran has a disability that was incurred or aggravated by active military service?
If yes, refer the veteran to apply for service-connected compensation and VA health care.
Also screen for veteran pension eligibility (below).

II. Screen for Pension Eligibility
Do you have a discharge under conditions other than dishonorable?
Did you serve during a period of war, such as World War II, Korea, Vietnam, or after August 2, 1990?
Do you have resources less than $80,000 not counting your home, normal personal effects such as furnishings, and motor vehicles used for normal transportation?
Is your income less than [current income amount for pension] after subtracting out-of-pocket medical expenses?
Are you 65 or older or permanently and totally disabled?
Refer a veteran who answers yes to all of these questions to VA for possible pension eligibility.

III. Screen for Surviving Spouse Eligibility
Are you the surviving spouse of a veteran?
If yes, were you married at the time of veteran’s death?
If no, stop. No VA benefits are payable.
If yes, have you remarried since the veteran’s death?
If no, screen for the veteran’s wartime service, character of discharge, and resources as outlined above and substitute current death pension income amounts for the family’s size. Note that the surviving spouse may be eligible
for a death pension even if not aged or disabled.
Refer a survivor who appears to meet the criteria to VA to apply for a death pension.

IV. Screen for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Eligibility
Did the veteran die of a service-connected disability or a disability that VA recognizes as presumptively serviceconnected due to service during the Vietnam or Gulf war or due to prisoner-of-war status?
Is the survivor currently remarried?
If no, refer the survivor to VA to apply for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).
If yes, were you remarried after December 31, 2003, and after you were at least 57?
If yes, refer the survivor to VA to apply for DIC benefits.
If no, DIC benefits are not available while the survivor is married.
The above is from "What Difference Does It Make if  the Client Is a #Veteran? None if You  Don’t Ask About Veteran Status"
When screening, don't stop with the above; always check for eligibility with state and local programs as well. A little bit of time can have a huge impact.

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