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Documents You Need for Veteran’s Benefits and Medicaid

Documents You Need for Veteran’s Benefits and Medicaid

Mail, junk mail and emails never stop coming. Like most people, you probably put most of this in the circular file or hit the delete button. There are some documents and records that are a must have if you ever need to apply for government programs, such as Medicaid and VA Aid and Attendance. They can be retrieved from banks, or investment firms, or public agencies, both federal and state, but that can have its own set of aggravating problems.

For anyone old enough for social security and Medicare, the social security card and
Medicare card is a must. These are not often misplaced because every American getting social security or Medicare has them readily at hand. Your birth certificate and marriage certificate may be needed to prove age, or parentage and marriage, because a widow of a wartime veteran, or a healthy spouse trying to protect spousal assets for Medicaid, may need that proof. If one spousal has died and the survivor needs care, a record of the first ones death will be needed. Town clerks in Connecticut have those records, but it’s easy to keep them when issued, instead of running around when a crisis hits. Divorce decrees are needed to prove there is no spouse whose assets would have to be counted towards program eligibility. And a military separation records, called a DD214 is necessary for Aid and Attendance for home care.

The above list does not tell the whole story, because many means tested programs require many years of bank and investment account records. Medicaid requires five years, and VA three, so having 5 years of records, either in paper or electronic form is a wise rule of thumb. Now all such institutions have your records in their computers, so they can be retrieved, sometimes for free and sometimes at a price. But if you keep five years of such financial records it may save you or your kids much effort on retrieving them.

One way to have ready access to records is to have online accounts. The social security administration has a site at SSA.gov that can be accessed to set up an account, change your address, or change direct deposits. Medicare also allows you to set up a Medicare.gov account. It will allow you to get all your health insurance information. You can also print out temporary insurance and Medicare cards if you are waiting for new ones in the mail. 

Original documents such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney and health care directives must not only be kept in a safe place, but your family members who need them must know where they are. For someone very ill or forgetful, it may be wise to have a trusted child or other family member keep them. They do no good for you if they cannot be found. And those documents can’t be replaced if an original or a copy cannot be found.

For example, if a child is named as power of attorney, they will not be able to handle financial matters if they do not have it, or if it has not already been entered into the
records of a bank or financial institution. And if you are rushed to a hospital because of an accident or sudden serious illness, and are unable to communicate, your spouse, child or other person you have named to make decisions must know where the power of attorney or living will is located. The old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of care just needs a bit of tweaking when it comes to records, because an organized file box of records can save days or weeks of time and effort in the future.
Attorneys Stephen O. and Halley C. Allaire are partners in the law firm of Allaire Elder Law.
Attorneys Stephen O. and Halley C. Allaire are members of the National Academy of Elder Law. Attorneys, Inc.
Allaire Elder Law is a highly respected, and highly rated law firm with offices in Bristol, CT.
We can be contacted by phone at (860) 259-1500 or by email.

If you have a question, send a written note to us and we may use your question in a future column.

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