World War II vet needs help

Seven On Your Side
October 12, 2009 9:11:21 PM PDT
He served his country well in World War II. The Navy seaman came home from the Pacific with a chest full of medals. But now, the veteran, a victim of Alzheimers and dementia, is left nearly penniless. But good news, he's eligible for a special, little-known veteran's benefit. Just one problem, none of the money ever arrived.

An assisted-living facility is now 85-year old Pat Romanello's home. The decorated World War II vet from Plainview has Alzheimer's disease with dementia, needing constant care.

Now, even once-prized pictures from Pat's own wedding day, ellicit little response. The special day, along with the memory of his wife, have faded away.

But along with the emotional toll his family members endure, comes the financial one. Daughter, Linda Romanello, pays her Dad's monthly care bill.

"I'm sitting here watching his funds. We're flying through his money," laments the eldest daughter. "His funds are just going down, down, down."

Last December, Linda applied for the little-known "Aid and Attendance" increased pension benefit from the U.S. Veterans Administration.

It's a monthly payment for vets needing continuing care. In May, Pat was approved for $1644 per month, the maximum benefit.

"We really needed this extra money. It was supposed to help make his money last longer."

But, Linda never saw a dime. Even after she sent the V.A. proof she's legally in charge of her dad's finances back in May.

"They don't acknowledge my power of attorney. I wasn't the veteran. I'm not the widow of the veteran and he wasn't in the room with me (on the phone with the V.A.) because he has dementia and he's in a home."

It's a catch-22 situation say Linda. So after months of financial hardship and frustration for stressed out daughter, we called the V.A. on her behalf.

"You guys called over there and probably about an hour and a half later, I got a phone call from somebody," a clearly relieved Linda related. "I don't know what we would have done without you."

Suddenly, she says the benefit was approved. Her first monthly check will arrive in about 2 weeks.

Linda is also owed retroactive payments stretching back to January, totaling nearly $15,000 dollars. But the V.A. first must personally interview Linda to prove she's in charge of her dad's finances. Linda expects that to happen in the next few weeks. The V.A. wouldn't comment on the Romanello's case citing privacy rules.

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Story by: Tappy Phillips


Produced by: Steve Livingstone

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