When a 93-year-old widow needs help, we listen. Millie, the widow of a World War II veteran, had been on her own since 1999, when her late husband passed away. In 2006, when Millie could no longer take care of herself, she moved into an assisted living facility near her hometown of Fostoria, Ohio. For the next twelve years Millie’s bank accounts were nearly exhausted due to the rising costs of assisted living and nursing home facilities. As of January 2018, Millie was paying nearly $7,000 per month in facility costs alone.
We first became involved around January 2016, when we assisted Millie and her family with their application for Veteran’s benefits to help pay for some of Millie’s long-term care costs. Because of her late husband’s wartime service, Millie should be entitled to over $1,100 per month to help pay for her long-term care costs. Unfortunately, a combination of inexplicable delays and bureaucratic red tape have conspired to prevent Millie from receiving the VA benefit that she rightfully deserves (nearly $29,000 in backdated benefits, as of January 2018). Worst of all, if Millie passes away before her application is approved she will receive nothing from the VA, and her family could be asked to cover the mounting nursing home bill that was supposed to be covered by still-pending VA pension.
Around a year after applying—and numerous failed attempts to get a clear answer out of the VA—Attorney Bryan Montana and Benefits Advocate Jana Simons decided that more drastic measures were required. Montana and Simons reached out to Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown’s office to tell Millie’s story. While Senator Brown’s office expressed sympathy for Millie’s circumstances, they were unable or unwilling to help. Montana and Simons made repeated attempts throughout 2017 to resolve the issue through the VA, however, like a bad dream, the same problems continued to reoccur: the case file could not be found, or the case was showing as “closed” in their system. Frustrated with the lack of progress, in December 2017 Montana and Simons decided to reach out to Millie’s local congressman, Jim Jordan (Ohio’s 4th Congressional District), as well as multiple newspapers and media outlets near Millie’s hometown. As of the date of publication of this story, they are still awaiting justice for their client.