Disabled daughter of Marine vet needs TRICARE help

Dear Sgt. Shaft,

I have applied four times to the Marine Corps to get Tricare for Life for my grown child/ adult daughter. She has been disabled since 13. Her dad recently got disability so she now receives benefits under him. I just don't understand why since she is disabled that she keeps getting turned down. Her father is retired from USMC and I served a three year tour. Any help or referrals would be greatly appreciated.

Laura L.
Via the internet

Dear Laura,

There are many unknowns in your question but we will try to narrow down the issues so you can focus on a few possible actions for you to check out.

First off, you cannot “apply” for Tricare for Life unless you are age 65. For people less than age 65, you are put on Tricare for Life after being on Social Security Disability for 2 years. Is your daughter on Social Security Disability? If not, go to Social Security to see if you qualify.

In the meantime, to have a special needs child on Tricare past age 21, you have to apply for Tricare special needs benefits. Your child has to eligible for Tricare by being the dependent of someone with Tricare benefits; I assume she is the dependent of your spouse who has Tricare benefits. If approved in the special needs program, your daughter can remain on Tricare as long as she continues to be a dependent relying on your spouse’s support. You say you applied four times but you don’t state whether you had help. You should work with a Tricare benefits counselor in your area to help with the certification process. If turned down before, either there was problem with the application or you daughter does not qualify. Here is the site for the Tricare special needs process. Someone should know why you were turned down and know how to explain why you were turned down. Find a Tricare Benefits Counselor here.

You need the help of a benefits counselor since there are many implied but unexplained details in your email and any number of things can be the problem with your past applications. The program is not automatic.

Shaft Notes

• The Sarge joins Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans' Affairs in his recent statement, “I was deeply saddened to learn of Rep. Bill Young’s passing. One of the most respected public servants in Florida’s history, Bill will forever be remembered for his kindness, wisdom and unyielding commitment to our nation’s veterans and men and women in uniform. Bill set the standard for what it means to ‘support the troops,’ and his legacy of service will live on for countless years to come. It has been my honor to serve with such a selfless leader. Bill’s wife, Beverly, and their family remain in our thoughts and prayers.”

The Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation (PenFed Foundation), a nationally recognized nonprofit organization working to meet the unmet needs of military personnel and their families, is putting the finishing touches on the nation’s largest free hotel for veterans undergoing medical care, an $11 million gift from the PenFed Foundation to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Defenders Lodge, made possible through the generous donation by Lee and Penny Anderson, had a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week in Palo Alto, Calif., and doors will officially open for guests in January 2014.

Here are ten things you should know about the new Defenders Lodge:

  1. The Defenders Lodge will provide caregivers and veterans undergoing care at the VA hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., short-term accommodations for free up to seven nights.
  2. The hotel will provide 20,000 free nights of stay for veterans and their caregivers.
  3. With upgraded accommodations, the lodge will feature 52 first-class private rooms and 104 beds.
  4. The hotel was designed by Radcliff Associates and developed by Gilbane.
  5. The lodge will save wounded veterans $3,088,800 per year on average in lodging costs (assuming a 10 percent vacancy rate). With most patients coming for appointments once a month requiring two nights of stay each visit, this translates into a savings of $2,500-$4,000 per veteran each year
  6. The total gross area of the Defenders Lodge is 34,465 square feet making it the nation’s largest free hotel for veterans undergoing medical care.
  7. The entire project from the ground up takes accessibility into account. Every doorway and bathroom is wheelchair accessible.
  8. Using natural light and a soothing interior color scheme, the hotel is designed to be calming and relaxing to help improve outcomes.
  9. In addition to free Wi-Fi throughout the lodge, a family room with a fireplace, an upgraded kitchen, an activity room, a laundry room, and an open-air atrium, the lodge will feature a library stocked with books.
  10. The PenFed Foundation is leading the effort in creating the lodge through a $17 million public/private partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs and is funding $11 million of it to cover the cost of construction through private donations.

To learn more about the Defenders Lodge visit: www.defenderslodge.org.

• The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation, in its 59th year, has awarded $644,005 to 21 non-profit organizations. These grants, determined during the annual meeting of the Board of Directors, held at the Sheraton Hotel City Centre in Indianapolis, Indiana on Sunday, October 13, 2013, have been awarded to support worthwhile youth-serving projects and to assist in the dissemination of information to the general public and specific target groups.

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330, call 202/257-5446 or email sgtshaft@bavf.org.