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Read our newest blog post about The PACT Act here.

Read the Transcript From This Video From Central Valley Today:

The Pact Act is a New Hope for those who

are fighting for benefits or those who

have been denied disability benefits due

to agent orange or other toxins so here

with us today to raise awareness is Greg

Steen CEO of senior care advocate so I

was doing a little research and this is

this is good news for vets out there so

what's The Pact act it's great news it's

probably the biggest

new law that's come down the pike for

the VA ever and it's it's such great

news so it was really designed to go

back and correct a lot of wrongful

denials and open up

presumptive claims for people that were

maybe in the past having to prove that

or anything they were suffering from was

you know service connected when in

reality they shouldn't have to prove it

and so it really opens up so much it's

also for surviving spouses anybody who

is you know

denied in the past they can go back and

have that reopened yeah so it's

amazing news it's great news it really

is and it comes from such an interesting

time in American history so tell us why

this is so important

well first of all I think we deserve

excuse me our veterans deserve

everything we can do for them because

you know they they're at risk obviously

and a lot of them never came back so

when they have things like you know Home

Loans or education benefits or you know

service connected benefits those are

awesome and they're very very good but

there's so much more there and the VA

says you know their own quote is that

for all their benefits

um less than 50 percent of all veterans

take advantage of any of them so I think

it's important that we obviously

recognize they're there and then help

people stare them in the right direction

because there's so many veterans that

are suffering I mean obviously the

homeless we all know about that homeless

veterans it's it's it's really sad but

there's so many that are just not being

helped and they're suffering and soon

and so why why do you think that is I

mean I hear so my boyfriend was in the

Army and he he talks about that a lot

that there are so many benefits the

people either don't know about or they

don't know how to access so why do you

think that is

a couple things

sadly I think the VA doesn't do a great

job of informing that upon return

secondly the veterans service offices

are welming people great people but

completely overwhelmed and can only do

basically what's you know the task at

hand yeah they don't have time to follow

up and whatnot the educational aspect of

the VA is really lacking but also you

have veterans maybe not like you know

the younger ones but the older ones that


kind of um not wanting to be a burden on

the system so they'll say things like

hey I'm okay leave it for those who need

it more that type of thing but I think

the big thing is just not understanding

what's there yeah and not really

understanding what the what the purpose

is because leaving it for somebody that

there that's there is a really good

intention but really you're just leaving

benefits on the table going unused

absolutely so we want people to be able

to tap into that you so you mentioned

when we're talking about

um The Pact act that surviving spouses

can qualify absolutely and so what might

they qualify for so they can qualify for

back pay based upon an award that should

have been given they can qualify

sometimes for an Indemnity benefit which

is ongoing income they can qualify maybe

for a service connected pension through

that that's ongoing income

um and so there's you know lots of ways

of uh of helping people be because you

know on these spouse especially for the

older generation they paid a price too

yeah right when they loved and went off

you know and served they were there they

kind of held down the fort and did a lot

of things that they had to do

um I think that they should get

something absolutely I mean you operate

as a family unit and so you should you

should your benefit should be awarded to

the family unit so the The Pact Act is

is it specifically for

um people that might have had

repercussions because of Agent Orange

and other toxins or is it does it cover

people who were asked to prove that they

had a service related injury or

something like that so good question

um the short answer is yes it's for

basically you know agent orange all the

toxins yeah

um Airborne type of things and it's also

for people that were denied that could

go back and now that these things are uh

presumed to be you know caused by this

the VA would basically rubber stamp it

and say yes you know that was a cause we

owed you money we're going to go back

and pay you those minis so it's not for

just anybody and everybody that has any

kind of

um you know service connection issue but

the great thing is on va.gov there's so

much information as far as every type of

thing that's covered how you qualify how

you can apply

um you know the process the timelines

it's very very specific I literally was

just on it before we came on and it's

like man they actually did a great job

this time you know of putting it all

there and so that's great and I do hear

that sometimes that sometimes you know

the the VA is really good for for people

who use it in whatever way they use it

and then sometimes you know it might

fall a little bit short but that's where

Senior Care Advocates can come in and

help direct them to the care that they

might need or the resources that are

available because your whole world is is

researching resources and a lot of our

veterans are senior so uh they just call

that number there on the screen to get

in touch with you right there you go

okay that's the best number and uh and

just real quick if you've not if you're

out there and you just are having

struggles call because there's no cost

consultation but also if you're working

in the VA system find a social worker

it's the key to everything okay okay

the good information always brings good

information enlightening stuff we

appreciate it

Read the transcript from this Central Valley Today segment about VA Benefits:

0:00 Emily Erwin

In the journey of life, it is so important to plan for all stages of your life and your loved one’s lives. What happens when you know it's not safe for your parents to drive or they need extra care or when your husband needs long-term care? Here to help us answer these questions and more is Mr. Gregory Steen. He is the Founder and CEO of Senior Care Advocates. Hello thanks for being here again. I always like this you know sometimes it's really good to sort of drive home a point and you get reminded of things so many times that you are forced into action.  And that's what we're forcing people to do. To make a plan. So, we're talking about certain kinds of benefits that we can get through Senior Care Advocates and what are those? 

0:45 Gregory Steen

So, the VA benefits are available to active duty and past active duty veterans. Problem is a lot of them just aren't aware of it, you know. 

0:52 Emily Erwin


0:57 Gregory Steen

And um but there's you know there's great benefits. The one in particular that nobody seems to know about is called aid in attendance and it pays for in-home care, you know assisted living, skilled nursing… It provides lots of opportunities.  People just don't know about it.

1:08 Emily Erwin

I didn't know about that either. My boyfriend was in the army for almost 15 years and I had no, I mean he's not quite that age yet, uh but I had no idea. So, how can we get this word out there to see if people qualify this for this sort of benefit and are there certain stipulations within the VA where you might qualify for something but not for something else? 

1:33 Gregory Steen

Well, that's a loaded question. So absolutely yes, um but there's service connected and there's non-service connected. So, we have a real simple like a cheat sheet if you will that will help people know if they qualify or not. You can call us. We can email that to you and give it to you at no cost but mainly you need to be active duty during a period of conflict. So, if you were serving during Vietnam you don't have to actually have been in Vietnam but just during that period. And then as far as getting the word out I think this is, you know, thank you for making the time for us to do it. But we're doing all that we can to get the word out on new websites and different events that we're doing and trying to help people understand. Because you know these people have served our country. They're willing to give their life. You know, we owe them a huge debt of gratitude and so we're doing all that we can.

2:23 Emily Erwin

And sometimes the VA is a difficult thing to navigate and I've talked to so many people who have used it and some really like it and it serves them well. And other times it does not serve their purpose because it is a difficult thing to navigate. So how do how do people apply for these benefits and make sure that  they are actually receiving things that they have earned?

2:45 Gregory Steen

So, there's about three different ways. One is you can do it yourself and we generally don't ever advise that. Second you can go to a local veteran’s service office. You know these are well-meaning people, they're trained, but they're so overwhelmed. It's really, really difficult to get through. The third is you can have somebody who's VA accredited help you and guide you. It seems to be a lot quicker, more efficient. The stress is on them not you. But I wanted to share something real quick just to kind of highlight what's going on. This is a news release from 2006. So, just a few days ago. And this is the VA  basically putting out a press release saying hey there's this great benefit. It's underused and we're going to tell all the veterans about it. So, whenever I speak I always ask people how many of you got the memo? And everybody of course laughs and like yeah we never did. So, the VA isn't really great at getting the word out. They are great at other things. I'm glad to have them but. 

3:44 Emily Erwin

Now could, you know, you talked about a Vietnam vet and you know they might be in a situation where maybe they've got somebody who's managing their care or their health care for them. Can we have family members tap into these resources for that veteran? 

4:01 Gregory Steen

Absolutely, so the VA does have a program called a fiduciary that does exactly what you said. But the benefit is tax-free income and it's meant to help you get the best care that you need. So, if it's paying a family member, paying for their health services, or equipment or whatever it's there and the family has the ability to do everything they can for the benefit of the vet.

4:24 Emily Erwin

So, how did Senior Care Advocates come to be sort of an expert with VA benefits?

4:33 Gregory Steen

Boy, just through a lot of us doing this for our clients and going through trial and error and challenges  and obstacles and learning best practices. Like anything else you do it long enough you learn how to kind of, you know, move quickly through things. But we also took some time, took 18 months, several years ago and did our due diligence with a attorney and a CPA VA accredited paralegal and sat down and said how can we help people because this has taken years in some cases. People are dying in the process and so we learned you know what the rules were, the regulations, and tried to put together something where people could have the help now.

5:12 Emily Erwin

Yeah well it's clearly a need if people are calling you asking for help. They don't know where else to turn because sometimes that is the case. If people do have a need they for some senior care, they're in crisis how can they get in touch with Senior Care Advocates?

5:22 Gregory Steen

So on the web or seniorcareadvocate.com our local number is 559-227-7322. We'll be at people's church on the 13th at 10 a.m. It's an open platform for people to get all this information but look us up, we're there.

5:40 Emily Erwin

Okay. Gregory Steen, thank you so much for being here. Always great information! Tap into the things that you have earned. We like that here. Thank you so much, thank you.

Read the complete transcript from this Central Valley Today clip:

0:00 Emily Erwin
You had this life-changing episode and then you said instant dementia. And then it was just like one day you have this life and then the next day it's completely different.
0:09 Gregory Steen
Well for a good while it was mom doing everything right, you know. And then in time we started realizing that okay now mom needs a break because about 30 percent of the caregivers go before the one they're caring for. Believe it or not. So we had to kind of have those talks and help understand, you know, some hard questions and it's very difficult and so that's part of the reason that we're here and why we do what we do. But I think the biggest thing to answer your question is just helping everybody get on the same page and understand what options are there.

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