Everyone knows that VA disability (service connected) compensation claims are backlogged at the Department of Veterans Affairs and a decision on your claim can take a very long time. Four years or more is not an uncommon period to wait for a decision. So, is there anything you can do to speed up the claim process?
Unfortunately, no, there isn’t anything you can do directly that will get your disability compensation claim acted on more quickly, unless it’s a new claim that falls under one of the newer programs. But there may be a back door way to get some money in your hands much quicker in some cases.
Many veterans who file for disability compensation may also qualify for another VA benefit program — VA Pension, also known as aid and attendance. This latter program is need-based, so there are financial elibility requirements as to your income and assets.
As a general rule, VA Pension (aid and attendance) claims get acted on much more quickly — often in just a few months.
Can you file for Pension while your disability claim is pending? Absolutely! There is no reason you can’t have both claims pending at the same time. If the Pension claim is acted on favorably, you can think of it as paying you an “advance” on your disability claim. If your disability claim is later denied, you still get to keep your monthly VA Pension.
So why isn’t this being done in more cases? It appears to be because most VA representatives are entirely unaware of the VA Pension and even fewer know how to qualify the veteran for the benefit. Pension is a benefit which, even if you’re told you don’t qualify for it currently, you can takes legal steps to become eligible for.
There is another reason why you should file for VA Pension concurrently with your disability claim. The VA representative can’t know for sure how much your disability check will be even if you’re sure you do qualify. The amount varies with your rating percentage (10%, 30%, and so on). It could be that Pension could give you a bigger monthly check than your compensation amount. You’re entitled to the larger of the two amounts.
What you should do now
If you’ve had a long-standing disability compensation claim pending or you’ve been told that you don’t currently qualify for VA Pension, seek out the help of a VA-accredited lawyer immediately. You just might find out you can start getting your VA check much sooner.