How to Expedite Your VA Disability Claim Due to Hardship
Are you experiencing financial hardship while you are 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 in getting to a decision and receiving benefit payments. 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 and sometimes that creates serious financial challenges to the veteran and his/her family. There are a few ways, however, 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 not sufficient; the VA needs to find that the financial hardship is “extreme.” If you are getting collection notices from credits, facing eviction or foreclosure, needing to file bankruptcy, or having your utilities cut off, are the types of extreme conditions that may be sufficient for expedited treatment of your disability claim.
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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 a regular sleeping accommodation 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?
There are two types of illness qualifications that can qualify a veteran for expedited claim treatment: (1) serious injury or illness resulting from military operations; and/or (2) terminal illness.
A veteran who has “a disability resulting from a military operation that will likely result in discharge from military service” is eligible for expediting of disability claims.
A terminal illness is a condition permanent and from which you are unlikely to recover, you may also be able to get expedited treatment of your disability claim. Some examples of such conditions would be advanced cancer, dementia (including Alzheimer’s), lung disease, neurological diseases like Parkinson’s, or advanced heart disease.
In order 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
In order to apply to have your claim expedited, 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 reduction of household income, paid out of pocket medical expenses, increase in number of dependents, or moved to a higher cost of living area). Attached 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 that are based upon 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 recipients 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 there are circumstances that 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 want to request expedited handling of your claim, please contact Veterans Law Group.