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Discussion Starter #1
I currently help out with supportive care for my stepdad who has advanced hormone refractory prostate cancer. With his service in Vietnam, he qualifies for benefits. His main barrier to applying for benefits is his absolute conviction that he would be required to get all of his oncology care through the VA, but the nearest oncology facility is 1.5 hours away. He's also concerned about losing his primary care provider who's doing an amazing job with the palliative care aspects of his treatment.

I've been trying to track down information online, but it's a bit convoluted and I think it's too late to track down any VA folks now. So, I'm wondering if anyone has experience with how benefits are managed at the VA. If my pop qualifies for disability payments, does that require him to go through VA health or simply give him the option?

I am hoping to be able to make a strong case to get this moving when I'm with them over the weekend. While my parents are comfortable so far despite all the medical expenses, I would really like them to have these benefits as a back-up as well as for extra security for my mother once he's passed on. They're only in their mid-60's :( They're both stubborn as hell, so I want to have my ducks in a row when I start "convincing" them.
 

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My dad is a vet and when he went thru the VA, they made him see VA docs for everything... including hospital stays. They have shuttles available to take people to their appointments. To give you an idea, we (mom and dad live in the same town we do) live about an hour from the closest VA urgent care clinic/hospital. Dad drives to these appointments himself, or he has my husband or my sister drive him/ride with him. If that is not an option, he utilizes the shuttles. When he had his cataract surgery, he had to drive (well, a friend drove him) 4 hours to the hospital...and to the followup appointments. But, to answer your question, yes, from what I have witnessed, they have to use the VA doctors/hospitals/clinics. If he takes payments related to vets, I THINK he is required at that point to utilize the VA health benefits. If you mean Social Security, no, he is not REQUIRED to do it... but he will have to pay medicare premiums... VA benefits are free. Anyway, this is just my experience with what my dad has gone thru. If you want more specifics, PM me and I will forward the questions to my dad.
 

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Thanks, I may take you up on that. I would really like to just be able to get the disability compensation and keep managing his care ourselves. My sincere hope is that we can avoid him coming up here for care unless it comes down to having to get him into a VA home. Then I would definitely prefer to move him and my mother up here.

My ramblings aside, I'm going to see who I can track down over at the VA tomorrow, but if the usual "Fridays" strike, I may PM you this weekend.

Thanks again--
 

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My dad went through this about 2 yrs ago. Had the surgery and iis fine. The VA would up giving him 100% disability plus some back benefits.
 

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Hey Joe--was his claim process pretty straightforward or was it a hassle?

I submitted his claim info today, I'm hoping that I flooded them with enough information on their Fast Track form to expedite the whole thing. If it goes the way I'm understanding it to, I'm pretty confident he'll get 100% disability and the back payments should go back a year or so. That will bring a lot of peace of mind, for sure. That and the possibility of survivor benefits are a big help.

It's sounding like since he's already in Medicare and they've paid for the bulk of his treatment for the last year, the VA typically prefers to let patients stay in Medicare (and in someone else's budget, lol). That will hopefully continue to be the case. Otherwise, I guess we'll roll with whatever options are presented to us. I made sure to rent a place with a pretty big 2nd bedroom just in case this happened, actually.
 

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Hey Joe--was his claim process pretty straightforward or was it a hassle?

I submitted his claim info today, I'm hoping that I flooded them with enough information on their Fast Track form to expedite the whole thing. If it goes the way I'm understanding it to, I'm pretty confident he'll get 100% disability and the back payments should go back a year or so. That will bring a lot of peace of mind, for sure. That and the possibility of survivor benefits are a big help.

It's sounding like since he's already in Medicare and they've paid for the bulk of his treatment for the last year, the VA typically prefers to let patients stay in Medicare (and in someone else's budget, lol). That will hopefully continue to be the case. Otherwise, I guess we'll roll with whatever options are presented to us. I made sure to rent a place with a pretty big 2nd bedroom just in case this happened, actually.
He didn't mention any hassle. There was a bit of a wait though. The wheels of Government turn slow.
 
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Discussion Starter #7
Oh yeah, the snail-like efficiency of bureaucracy is something I'm counting on! I'm mostly hoping to avoid a volley of paperwork requests....
 

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They had shut down the VA OR where he is. Too many infections.
They paid for him to have it done at a hospital in St.louis.
 

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Not too surprising if it was a couple of years ago. You wouldn't believe all the quality of care and patient safety stuff they've got going on over there. A couple of my docs work partly at the VA as well and they usually think that dealing with the county teaching hospital here is a breeze compared to the VA, lol.
 
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