How to Expedite Your VA Disability Claim Due to Hardship
Published June 28, 2021
Are you experiencing financial hardship while waiting for a decision on your VA disability claim appeal? Are there other reasons, such as illness or advanced age, that make the usual timeframe for disability claim processing too long to wait?
There are some ways for you to speed up the process of getting to a decision and receiving benefit payments, and this article will walk through those steps.
How can I speed up my VA disability claim?
VA Disability claims can take several years to process, sometimes creating severe financial challenges for veterans and their families. There are a few ways to accelerate the process of getting a claim determination. If you can document that you meet any of the following criteria, you may be able to speed up the processing of your claim: financial hardship, homelessness, certain illnesses, former POW or award recipients, and/or advanced age.
What is VA financial hardship?
“Financial hardship” for purposes of requesting expediting of your VA disability claim means that you, the veteran, are unable to earn enough income to pay essential expenses such as housing payments or medical expenses relating to your disability. Minor hardships are insufficient; the VA needs to find that the financial hardship is “extreme.” Getting collection notices from credits, facing eviction or foreclosure, needing to file bankruptcy, or having your utilities cut off – these extreme conditions may be sufficient for expedited treatment of your disability claim.
Watch this video to hear from experienced veterans law attorney Amanda L. Mineer.
What qualifies as homelessness for expediting a claim?
Homelessness is another avenue for expedited treatment of your claim. “Homelessness” for these purposes is defined as lacking a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; having a primary nighttime residence that is not designed for or ordinarily used as regular sleeping accommodations for human beings (such as a vehicle, park, abandoned building, bus or train station, airport, or camping ground); or residence in a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designated to provide temporary living arrangements.
What are the illness qualifications?
Two types of illness qualifications can qualify a veteran for expedited claim treatment: (1) serious injury or illness resulting from military operations; and/or (2) terminal illness.
A veteran with “a disability resulting from a military operation that will likely result in discharge from military service” is eligible for expediting disability claims.
A terminal illness is a permanent condition from which you are unlikely to recover. You may also be able to get expedited treatment of your disability claim if you have a terminal illness. Some examples of such conditions would be advanced cancer, dementia (including Alzheimer’s), lung disease, neurological diseases like Parkinson’s, or advanced heart disease.
To apply for expedited treatment of your claim, you’ll need a documented diagnosis and status of your illness to provide to the VA. Records regarding hospice care may also be submitted as further supporting documentation.
Former POWs and Award Recipients Can Have Claims Expedited
Former prisoners of war or recipients of the Medal of Honor or Purple Heart award are also entitled to request expedited handling of their disability claims.
What qualifies as advanced age?
You can also request an expedited disability determination on the basis of advanced age. “Advanced age” for purposes of seeking expedited handling of your disability claim is generally 85 years of age or older, but for matters at the Board of Veterans Appeals, the qualifying age is 75 years of age or older.
How to get an expedited disability determination
To apply to expedite your claim, veterans who meet the criteria for one of the above categories will need to submit a Priority Processing Request via VA Form 20-10207. The five-page form contains instructions for applying to have your claim expedited.
To make a request based on financial hardship, the veteran will need to fill out VA form 10-10hs. This simple form asks for the reason for the financial hardship (some examples are reduced household income, paid out-of-pocket medical expenses, increased number of dependents, or moved to a higher cost of living area). Attach supporting documentation (for example, an eviction notice or bankruptcy filing, etc.) If you are in the process of a claims appeal and have an attorney, talk with them about this process.
Requests based on illness (as explained above) will require military records of discharge or medical records establishing the military operation-related injury/illness or terminal illness from other causes. To request that the VA obtain your private medical records, you’ll need to complete and submit VA Form 21-4142 or 21-4142a.
Requests based on your status as a former POW, Medal of Honor, or Purple Heart recipient should include DD Form 214 or other records verifying this status.
Waiting for an initial disability decision or decision on appeal can seem interminable, but some circumstances may entitle you to speed up the process. If you think you qualify for any of the above grounds for expedited claims handling, contact a VSO in your area to help you prepare your request.
If your VA disability claim has been denied, you feel you were underrated, or you want to request expedited handling of your claim, please get in touch with Veterans Law Group.