If you’re thinking of applying for VA Pension benefits for yourself or someone you love, you need to know that it could be a long, hard slog. The VA isn’t known for its efficiency. Though you don’t have any control over the employees of the VA and their skill (or lack thereof) at processing applications, you do have control over what you submit. Here’s what to do if you want the best possible results.
Disclose all the necessary information up front.
Read the application to find out what information you need to provide. And then read it again. Make a list of everything you need. (HINT: It will be a lot.)
Assemble supporting documentation.
You’ll be asked to gather a lot of paperwork, including an original copy of the veterans’ discharge from service, proof of marriage, or documents that prove the need for benefits. Be prepared to supply information about assets such as bank accounts, saving accounts, IRA’s, income sources, life insurance, annuities, stocks, deeds for land other than the homestead, and so on.
Be clear on which benefits you’re seeking.
There are two types of VA benefits. VA Compensation is paid for service-connected disabilities and is meant to compensate a veteran for loss of income due to the disability. VA pension is paid to veterans who are disabled because of non-service-connected causes. It’s meant to assist low income, disabled, active-duty veterans who served during a period of war.
Find out in advance whether your veteran or a surviving spouse is eligible.
The VA has a very particular set of qualification for the non-service-connected pension. A veteran must meet the service requirements (he or she served at least 90 consecutive days with at least one day in a wartime period and received a discharge other than dishonorable). You can find the list of wartime periods online. The veteran’s separation papers, or DD214m, give you a way to confirm both eligibility requirements.
Make sure you’re completing the right forms.
The VA Form 21-22a allows the veteran to appoint someone as a representative, someone to help you and speak with the VA on your behalf. The VA Form 4138 acts as a cover letter for every VA interaction. Forms 527 and 534 are the actual pension applications. There’s the VA Form 2680 that the veteran’s doctor completes. There are many others. Make sure to read the directions and fill everything out. Don’t forget to sign the forms.
Don’t assume you don’t qualify.
Just because someone you know tried and failed to qualify doesn’t mean the same thing will happen to you. Just because someone who’s not an expert told you that you won’t qualify doesn’t mean you should forget about applying. Check with more knowledgeable experts (like the local VSO) to see whether your veteran might be eligible.
Seek advice from your local Life Care Planning Law Firm.
Many people who try to apply for VA benefits on their own make innocent mistakes that can create long delays. It may take you years to get your claim approved, which means losing out on thousands of dollars of benefits that your veteran or the surviving spouse may have been entitled to. It might mean that your VA pension application is never approved. Working with someone who deals with these claims every day can make the process go much faster, and the checks might start coming much sooner.
It’s worth the time and effort it takes to apply for VA pension benefits. If the veteran’s application is approved, the monthly award can mean the difference between thriving or merely surviving. If you want to expedite the processing of your VA pension claim, any Life Care Planning Law Firm can help. Find one near you.