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Vets home resident says Rose's claim to get money back is unfounded

Tony Rose, a former resident of the Hastings Veterans Home, has been fighting the home since January for the return of nearly $48,000. The home presented him with a retroactive maintenance bill after he received about $50,000 in social security back pay. Some residents, however, aren't convinced he has a right to the money.

Donald Weeks currently lives at the home and, like Rose did, is working with a lawyer to get social security payments he's being denied.

Weeks served in the Navy from 1979 to 1983. His psychiatrist signed a document that states Weeks is unemployable for mental health reasons, but the government, so far, hasn't approved his social security application. The denial surprised Weeks' lawyer, who's working to get Weeks his pay.

"When I get it, I'm going to be in the same position (as Rose)," Weeks said.

However, he has no plans to try to keep a lions share of the retroactive check.

"It's pretty cut and dry what you have to pay," he said.

When residents move into the home, they sign an admission agreement that states maintenance charges are calculated according to the resident's income - which includes social security - and Minnesota Rules. The agreement also covers retroactive income.

"If your maintenance charge increases as a result of your retroactive lump sum income, you must pay an adjusted maintenance charge for the period of your stay that coincides with the period for retroactive payment of your income," the agreement reads.

Staff at the home make sure each resident understands the fee scale when the move in, said the home's spokesperson, Anna Lewicki Long. Lewicki Long couldn't comment on Rose's case, but explained the costs all residents are expected to pay. Each resident is charged according to his or her ability to pay, she said, up to the full cost of their care, which is set at a little less than $2,600 per resident per month.

"It's a sliding scale based on their ability to pay," she said.

A bill adjusted for a resident's back pay will be close to the total back pay, if that payment is less than the cost of care.

"It's not a coincidence at all," Lewicki Long said, and such situations are not uncommon, she explained.

The calculation set by Minnesota Rules allows residents at the home who have an income to keep $90 per month plus five percent of the remaining income. The rest, assuming it's less than the cost of care, goes to the home.

"It's not free to live at the home," Lewicki Long said, and state law requires them to charge the residents.

"This is all explained to us when we move in," Weeks said.

While Weeks agreed that Rose has a right to keep $90 plus five percent for each month he lived at the home that he should have been receiving social security, he said that fighting for a full refund is "just plain wrong."

"He's got to pay his fair share," Weeks said.