To meet Margie Risseeuw, you’d never guess that, in addition to enjoying beach life, she’s one of two highly qualified, accredited claims agents in Delaware for the office of the U.S. General Counsel of the Department of Veterans Affairs. There are only 200 in the United States.
In some ways, Risseeuw is like many other Lewes wives and mothers. Her husband, David, is a retired minister, and now serves as a part-time chaplain at Beebe Healthcare in Lewes.
Because of Risseeuw’s 32-year long professional career, and the need for travel in the Delaware-New Jersey area as well as locally, her husband takes over in the kitchen of their Lewes home, shopping and preparing meals.
“He’s developed into a gourmet cook,” said Margie. Prior to coming to the beach in 2006, the couple lived and worked in New Jersey and New York.
To do her VA work, Risseeuw has to know the laws and regulations found in the federal code. She studied the “book” and passed on her second try at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Center in 2010.
Approximately 30 percent of her work is helping veterans, mostly working with those who have received denials with their claim application. Seventy percent of her time is spent as an independent insurance broker who shops for her clients, mostly doctors, in getting insurance coverage. She is licensed for work in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia. She has been doing this work since 1981.
In a recently published article for a national social worker's journal, Risseeuw told of a veteran and his dilemma in a case she is now working on.
“On June 6, 1944, World War II troops landed on the beaches of Normandy,” said Risseeuw. “John was among them. Now John is 92 years old, diabetic, a stroke survivor, developing dementia, and living in assisted living. His daughter first applied for VA aid and attendance benefits in 2012.”
John’s application seemed to meet all requirements but was “inappropriately
denied,” said Risseeuw. Veterans such as John can engage an attorney, get help from a veteran’s service officer, or an accredited claims agent (such as Risseeuw).” Most veterans in John’s situation cannot afford the additional help needed.” (Risseeuw’s services are paid for only if the claim is successful.)
Her full article in the social workers journal is available by sending an email address to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She can also be reached at 302-945-9797.
“The biggest mistake that people make in submitting a claim to the VA, is they wait too long to send in their application,” she noted. “Of particular concern is the fact that elderly or other people have a partner who provides in-home help. Or they may take care of each other and not apply until it’s too late given the fact that applications may take months or even years to be approved.”
Asked what she enjoyed most about her veterans’ work, Risseeuw said, “Showing people in need of their ability to fight so they can avoid the devastation that comes from having a claim turned down at an advanced age.”