Top 5 Ways to Delay Your VA Pension Claim
We’ve all heard the horror stories about working with the Department of Veterans Affairs, especially when it comes to VA Pension applications. You send in your paperwork and it either drops into a black hole never to be seen again or you end up in an infuriating back-and-forth game of claim form whack-a-mole.
Though you don’t have any control over the employees of the VA, you do have control over what you submit. That’s why I thought it would be fun to talk about ways to guarantee that your loved one’s VA pension application will take far longer than necessary to process. Do the opposite of what you read below and you’ll have better results.
#1: Don’t provide supporting documentation.
Don’t send any of the documents the VA requests, things like an original copy of the veteran's discharge from service, proof of marriage, or documents that prove the need for benefits. Don’t worry about accounting for assets such as bank accounts, saving accounts, IRAs, income sources, life insurance policies, annuities, stocks, deeds for land other than the homestead, and so on. And if you do gather supporting documentation, just throw it all into a shoebox like you do your receipts at tax time and FedEx it to the claims processer. They’ll know what to do with it.
#2: Apply for benefits without knowing which ones to apply for.
Pick one the way you’d decide by flipping a coin. VA benefits are VA benefits, right? Pay no mind to the fact that VA Compensation is paid for service-connected disabilities and is meant to compensate a veteran for loss of income due to the disability. Ignore the fact that VA Pension is paid to veterans who are disabled because of non-service-connected causes and that it’s meant to provide more income to low-income, disabled, active duty veterans who served during a period of war. (Go here and then scroll down to see a list of the wartime periods.)
#3: Apply for VA Pension benefits without knowing whether your loved one is eligible.
Think of it like throwing spitballs at the wall. Wait to see what sticks. Pay no mind to the fact that the VA has a very particular set of qualifications for the non-service-connected pension. Don’t think about whether your veteran meets the service requirements (he or she must have served at least 90 consecutive days with at least one day in a wartime period and received a discharge other than dishonorable). Don’t bother to look up the list of wartime periods even though they’re easy to find online. And don’t bother to dig out your loved one’s separation papers, or DD214, which would make it easy to confirm both eligibility requirements.
#4: Assume you don’t qualify.
If your neighbor’s cousin’s best friend’s brother said you won’t get any benefits, believe him. Don’t bother checking with more knowledgeable experts to see whether your loved one might be eligible.
#5: Don’t get advice from a qualified elder care attorney.
Try to do it on your own, in hopes of saving a few bucks. It may take you years to get your claim approved, which means losing out on tens of thousands of dollars of benefits that your loved one may have been entitled to. It might mean that your VA Pension application is never approved. But at least you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that a lawyer didn’t get any of your money.
Despite this tongue-in-cheek look at the potential ways that VA Pension claims can go wrong, I truly believe it’s worth the time and effort it takes to apply. If your application is approved, the monthly award can mean the difference between your elderly loved one thriving or merely surviving.
If you want to expedite the processing of your VA Pension claim, Kimbrough Law can help. Just give our office a call.