If you’re filing a claim for a VA pension for a loved one, is there anything you can do to speed up the process? We posed this question to Steven Rubin, a Certified Elder Law Attorney and a VA accredited attorney at Drazen Rubin Law, LLC, a Life Care Planning Law Firm in Milford, Connecticut. Steven has been advising clients on VA-related issues for more than eight years.
According to Steven, nothing will move your claim along faster than submitting everything requested right from the start. “You want to submit a Fully Developed Claim,” Steven explained. “That’s a claim where you have all of the information together and submitted all at once.”
Why is a Fully Developed Claim so important? Blame it on the bureaucracy. “The more material we can give them in the first place, the faster they’ll be able to process the claim,” Steven noted. “We want to minimize the back-and-forth that can cause so many delays.”
Submitting a Fully Developed Claim can also minimize the number of claims processers handling your file, which can also make thing move faster. “For a typical file, one caseworker might review it and determine that you need to submit more documents,” Steven said. “You submit those documents and then the file goes to another person who has to get up to speed on your claim. This wastes valuable time.”
In a Fully Developed Claim, the chances are greater that a single caseworker will be able to complete the entire review process. “In Fully Developed Claims, we might get funds 30 to 60 days after applying versus a non-fully developed claim, which can take nine months or longer.”
The next way to expedite your claim involves proving that your veteran is, in fact, a veteran. While this may seem like simple matter, it involves paperwork, which has a way of getting misplaced over time. And although the VA is obligated to assist a veteran, the burden is on the veteran to prove their service by submitting their discharge paperwork, usually the DD 214. It’s often up to the veteran’s family to try to locate these important documents. Many people can’t.
What do you do when you can’t find your loved one’s DD 214? Fortunately, you have options. “One that most people don't think about involves property taxes. “Many states, including Connecticut, offer property tax discounts for veterans,” Steven said. “Many veterans will take their DD 214 to their local town clerk or registrar of deeds who records a copy of the certificate. I advise my clients to start their search there. You can go to that registrar's office and get a certified copy of the DD 214 and submit that to the VA. If it’s not available there, you’ll have to submit a request, and that can take some time. The VA can help with this process at https://www.va.gov/records/get-military-service-records/.
Another time waster involves powers of attorney when filing claims on behalf of loved ones. “If you submit a regular power of attorney to the VA, it will be rejected,” Steven counseled. “There is a special power of attorney that needs to be filed with the VA to allow them to let someone else help you or process the claim.”
Life Care Planning Law Firms are skilled at guiding families through the VA benefits qualification process. If you’re stuck, click here to find help.