The unprecedented backlog in claims for benefits from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) continues to increase. Although a large part of the problem may be attributed to systemic issues within the system, a large part of it is due to a more obvious issue: increasing numbers. Claims for benefits, such as the VA Aid & Attendance Non-Service Connected Disability Pension are soaring as more wartime veterans age. Vietnam veterans, the largest class of wartime veterans, are now in their 50s and 60s. This comes at a time when large numbers of younger veterans are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. To make matters more complex, increasing numbers of women with unique health considerations are in the system.
Nearly 37% of the veterans caught in the backlog for claims are Vietnam veterans applying for benefits related to exposure to Agent Orange. Disability claims related to Agent Orange may range from various forms of cancer to nerve disorders, respiratory issues, and more. The VA only opened the doors to such claims in the last few years for veterans exposed to the harmful toxin. Additionally, the children of veterans exposed to Agent Orange may receive benefits if they were born with certain birth defects that are presumed to result from the exposure.
Additionally, because Vietnam veterans are aging, increasing numbers are eligible for Aid & Attendance benefits, which can provide substantial assistance for the cost of care. In order to qualify, the veteran must have served during a war. The benefit helps veterans pay for needed care even when the disability is not connected to their military service. Ill spouses who were not in the military may also qualify for the benefit. Indeed, in some cases even ill former spouses may qualify for the benefit! Planning ahead for eligibility through the use of a QVap trust may make the application process smoother!
Women currently comprise roughly 15% of active duty military members across all the branches and 18% of the National Guard and Reserves. Women will make up 10% of the entire veteran population by 2020. Additionally, the number of women using VA services has doubled in the last decade. The VA covers a number of health care services that specifically apply to women. Breast cancer screening, cervical cancer screenings, pregnancy counseling, the HPV vaccine, menopausal support, and contraception are all covered under general VA primary care. Additionally, the V.A. covers specific pregnancy issues. The VA established a new call center, which began taking calls April 23, 2013 just to deal with the issues facing the growing female veteran population. The number for the hotline is 1-855-VAWOMEN.
As wartime veteran population increases and changes, seeking the advice of a VA accredited attorney will be the best way to navigate potential benefits for your family. Determining what benefits even exist within the VA is often a daunting task. Getting assistance in determining eligibility, applying for the benefits and ensuring that your application is correct and complete, and if necessary, appealing a negative decision is vital. Beware that you should not pay a professional to help you unless he or she is accredited by the VA! And even accredited individuals can only charge in certain circumstances.
VA Aid & Attendance–How Can I Correctly Choose Help for my Application Process? FREE REPORT: This complimentary report focuses on the various kinds of people one can consult when applying for the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit. Who one chooses can mean the difference between success and failure. Remember, if you are denied, you may not be able to reapply for up to a year or longer. Download our complimentary report for a behind the scenes look at the different types of people you can consult and the dirty underbelly of the Veterans Aid & Attendance industry.