Veterans’ families wait months for benefits
Red tape has delayed carers’ payments and caused hardship for war veterans’ families, a campaigner has claimed.
Caregivers said a decision to send paperwork to the United States for processing had led to delays of up to three months in the payment of allowances.
Carol Everson, the case worker for Bermuda’s veterans and their widows, said one family’s bills for a 92-year-old Second World War veteran had hit $18,000 while they waited for payment.
She added: “The veterans and widows benefits that started in 2007 worked very well, but the administration seems to have crumbled.
“Some FutureCare staff do not seem to understand how to process the benefits. There have been inaccurate notices that benefits have maxed out, which has caused an unnecessary panic.”
The daughter of an 86-year-old widow of a veteran, who was crippled by a stroke in 2015, said her mother’s allowance was being paid three months late.
She added: “Between the health insurance department, Ageing and Disability Services and the people who handle the veterans’ benefits, they don’t seem to know what’s going on. At one point, we were $10,000 behind on our mortgage payments.
“The wait is down to two months now — I’m still waiting on my caregiver’s payment from November.”
She added: “I feel anger and frustration. I have bills to pay, and I’m more on top of it all than most people would be.
“I feel bad for those who don’t have the wherewithal to tackle it.”
Another woman said she and her sister had cared for her 97-year-old father, a Second World War veteran, for two years.
She said: “It’s disgusting that we have to wait so long. To top it off, we just got paid for October and November and they put my sister’s money into my account by mistake.
“I have to take money out of my savings. I can’t depend on my caregiver’s allowance because of lateness.”
Caregivers have been entitled to payments, including $15 an hour for up to 40 hours a week, since 2015 to help them look after elderly relatives at home.
But the woman said they had been told by the Department of Social Insurance that their time sheets for caregivers were being sent overseas for processing.
The woman’s sister added that she had been told it was cheaper to have the work done in the United States.
She said: “The part that I don’t understand is, why outsource a simple job that can be done by a Bermudian?”
“There are only 130 war veterans and widows in Bermuda. There is no reason why this department cannot pay all caregivers monthly.
“It is impossible for caregivers to pay their bills when they’re getting paid once every three months.”
One 93-year-old veteran, also a widow, said she would have been “up the creek” without her own private insurance policy, which costs $1,440 a month.
The former Woman’s Royal Naval Service member added: “I’m covering myself because I don’t have anyone to look after me. Without my savings, I couldn’t do it.”
She said that, although macular degeneration had left her with damaged eyesight, she was in good health otherwise and able to look after herself.
The woman added that bills for eye injections and drops can cost between $1,500 and $1,700 a month.
She said: “That’s why I have two insurances. It’s vitally important — it gives me peace of mind, but the cost has gone up and up.
“I am coping — but there are many others a lot worse off than me.”
The Ministry of Finance did not respond to a request for comment.