Why not utilize VSO?

Discussion in 'How to Apply Questions' started by busymom, Mar 7, 2017.

  1. busymom

    busymom Newbie

    I've been researching this process for the last 2 months, and I've been so grateful for this forum! I have been working on gathering the necessary documents to help my dad apply for the A&A benefit (he is a veteran from the Vietnam war, and he just moved into assisted living, no assets). I'm just waiting on the physician's form (21-2680) to come back, then I should be ready to send in his application. Last week, I went to the county office VSO here in Southern California just to ask some questions about the forms. The representative was quite helpful, assisting me with actually completing the forms, as well as certifying my dad's discharge papers. He gave everything back to me to have my dad sign and to hold onto while I wait for the doc's report. He offered to have me come back to have him actually file for me, and to allow him to be the rep for his claim. I know people on this forum have had bad experiences with their VSOs, but most often it seems to be complaints of VSOs not really knowing their stuff and discouraging people from applying. My experience so far has been different, leaving me to wonder if it is better to take these forms back to him, or to carry on with filing myself? What exactly is the advantage to doing it myself rather than allowing him to represent his claim? Thanks!
     
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  2. Jandy

    Jandy Jr. Member

    Hi busymom,
    My experience was like others (as you mentioned): the local VA reps I spoke to were not knowledgeable about A&A. As a result, I completed and filed my father's application myself.

    So although the issue was moot for me, it sounds like you do have the option of having your very helpful VSO file the application. If it were me? I'd utilize the VSO for questions and concerns, but ultimately, I would prefer to file the application myself. One, because I'm a control freak(!), but more important-- I would want the option of communicating with the VA about the application. I assume(??) that if your VSO files the application, he alone would retain this right (someone correct me if I'm wrong here).

    When I sent the "Intent to File" for my father, I also filed the Authorization to Disclose Personal Information to a Third Party (VA Form 21-0845), designating myself as the third party. This came in handy down the line, because although Dad's application was approved in less than 4 months, there were a couple hiccups along the way. I was able to call the VA to speak with them and clear up the minor issues immediately.

    Of course, a VSO would do the same thing. And a good one obviously knows the system better than a layman, so that would be an advantage. As I said, the point was moot for me, but even if it weren't, I just didn't want to be beholden to anyone else's schedule. And honestly, I never felt like anyone would care as much about my father's application as I do (maybe I have trust issues....;) ).

    Perhaps you could ask the VSO if he would allow you to be an authorized Third Party under 21-0845. Ultimately, do whatever makes YOU comfortable. Best of luck and keep us posted.
     
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  3. busymom

    busymom Newbie

    Thanks, Jandy! The VA rep gave me both the 21-0845 form, that would authorize me as the Third Party, as well as the 21-20 form that would appoint him as the claimant's representative. Apparently both can be filed? I'm still deciding if I will actually use him as the representative or if I will just file it all myself. I agree that I want to be able to talk to the VA myself to follow up on things (fellow control feak here! ;)).

    And by the way, I filed the Intent to File last month and got Feb. 20th established as the file date. This has taken so much pressure off of me as I gather all of the other documents and make decisions like the above-mentioned one! This forum has truly kept me sane!
     
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  4. Jandy

    Jandy Jr. Member

    Hey busymom,
    Oh, that's good to know (that you can still be a 3rd Party under 21-0845, even if you use a VSO to file the application)--I wasn't aware of that. Between the research you've done here and the assistance provided by your VSO, it sounds like things are shaping up nicely on your application. I agree with you 100% about this forum--I simply could NOT have gotten through the process without it.

    Good luck pulling everything together. And ask questions when you need to. Heck, I think the questions benefit us all--I find I'm learning more and more about the process even now that I'm done, especially in areas that didn't pertain to my dad's situation.

    Keep us posted!
     
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  5. Kaylin

    Kaylin Hero Member Staff Member

    busymom, Jandy was right. Typically the reason why folks don't use VSOs for helping them file the application is because they don't generally know as much about the A&A benefit as we would like them to. And if they file the application then they would have to be the one in communication with the VA rather than you. Most people would rather be the main form of communication for their own application or for their family member's application. :) I hope that helps answer your questions!

    Yay for filing the Intent to File and establishing a date! That can be a bit help in the future.
     
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  6. Lori M

    Lori M Newbie

    My experience in getting the VSO to call me back has been awful. I have left messages without any response. One time I did get a human, she promised someone would return my call. I called again and reminded her of our conversation. I am always kind ("I know the officer is very busy....etc.,) but I was promised a call last Friday (again), with no results.

    I am thinking maybe a VSO in my hometown might be better than trying to get help long distance.
     

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