VA Benefit Breakthrough

April 2, 2013

The two big conversations among non-profit leaders these days are around accountability (how was your money spent?) and performance or impact (what did that spending achieve?).  Some areas of MPTF’s charitable activities are easier to measure than others:  we know how much charitable financial assistance was given out in any given month, who it went to (broken down by guilds/unions, even down to the locals level), and what it went for (rent, utilities, board-and-care, caregiver).  Social impact, though, is much more elusive on the measurement side.  For example, we know how many “efforts” (social worker talk for interactions) a social worker makes with a family (broken down by family member) but we don’t really know have great tools to measure the real impact of those efforts.

And then once in a while, we have a real breakthrough where we know that the efforts we’ve been putting in are beginning to pay real and very measurable dividends.  Here’s one of them that I’m really proud of.

In 2009, in response to some of our Long Term Care residents who were seeking out a board-and-care (small residential facility) situation, Naomi Rodda, our Manager of Community Social Services, began exploring the VA (Veterans Administration) Aid & Attendance Benefit program to supplement the income of these industry members.  The Aid & Attendance Benefit program is directed at vets who have served our country during a qualifying period of war, received an honorable discharge, have care needs that require assistance, and now find themselves in need of financial support.  Surviving spouses may also be eligible.  Naomi recognized this program as being underutilized by our industry members on campus and in the community and became passionate about getting qualified industry members and their surviving spouses enrolled.

And then there was really breathtaking government bureaucracy to deal with!  Lots of it!  It took several years for Naomi and Cec Veltre, Resident Business Services, to learn how to “work it” – how to navigate the system both online and in person, how to identify qualified industry members and link them to the Aid & Attendance program, how to make progress through very daunting paperwork.  To their credit, Naomi and Cec and others at MPTF have built strong relationships at the Sepulveda VA.  They have had VA clinics on MPTF’s campus to help industry members both understand the program and complete their application forms.  And more recently, they have developed a sympathetic contact at the VA who has committed to seeing our clients one time a month to help them progress through the maze.  And we’ve had a few early successes!!!!

Naomi and Cec and the other extraordinary MPTF social workers they partner with now have over 25 industry members in the VA Aid & Attendance Benefit pipeline.  Just recently we learned that one of our residents was awarded the Aid & Attendance benefit – with a retroactive check from the date of the filing and over $1,000 a month in future benefits!  Some are getting ready to apply, some have already applied and are awaiting the disposition of their cases, and some few have already been granted Federal funding.  Naomi reports that best expectation for any industry member applying is an average turnaround of 18-24 months.  In other words, if you think you qualify for this VA benefit, DON’T WAIT!

MPTF Social Services also facilitates links for veterans around other benefits including service-related disability pensions, medical care (including vision, hearing, and dental), prescription drug coverage and community placement in VA residential facilities throughout California.

Think about the impact of a MPTF social worker with real determination to improve the lives of a pocket of senior industry members who are owed a debt of gratitude from their government and who either don’t know about it or are struggling to collect it.  And please, please, please, if you think you are eligible or will be eligible, Naomi and Cec say
“it’s never too soon to get the process going.”  Get in touch!

About Bob Beitcher

Bob Beitcher is the President and CEO of the Motion Picture & Television Fund. He has been a senior executive in the entertainment industry for 30 years, having held leadership roles at Jim Henson Productions, Paramount Pictures, Panavision and MacAndrews & Forbes Media Group. Bob has been an MPTF board member since 2007. He became interim CEO in 2010 and was named permanent CEO in 2011.

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