The Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA), which administers a litany of VA benefits, including the Aid & Attendance Non-Service Connected Disability Pension to veterans has been plagued by persistent backlogs throughout the Obama administration. Despite significant efforts to curb the backlog, it is increasingly worse and even worse than the VA assets.
According to the VA, the average wait time for service-related benefits is just over nine months. However, for newly returning veterans and others filing claims for the first time, the wait may be closer to a year. With the withdrawal from Afghanistan, it is anticipated that over one million veterans will be awaiting disability payments by the end of this month. In Los Angeles, the wait times average over 16 months! More disturbingly, the number of veterans who die waiting for their claims is also increasing. The wait time for Aid & Attendance claims is not much better.
The administration has been working toward decreasing the backlog and has vowed to eliminate it by 2015. However, the efforts so far, including computerizing records and hiring more staff have not been effective at curbing the problem. Indeed, with the problem worsening in part due to increased demand, it is unclear whether such efforts have even been helpful.
If you or a loved one is preparing to apply for VA Aid & Attendance benefits or believe you may need to apply in the future, there are steps you may take in order to minimize the chance that this ongoing backlog will impact you. First, take steps now to ensure that you will qualify for benefits when you need them. By creating a QVap Trust, you may preserve flexibility with your assets without becoming disqualified if your home is sold. Additionally, this kind of trust can preserve the “step-up” in income tax basis your heirs receive upon your death if the home is not sold. If the need for Aid & Attendance benefits arises after incapacity, the home will not impede qualifying for benefits. And note that the VA also has its own Power of Attorney and does not generally recognize attorney-drafted POAs.
Once it is time to apply for benefits, it is best to apply as quickly as possible in order to begin the process, and the corresponding wait. By ensuring that your application is complete and correct, you can maximize the chance that your claim will be processed and approved the first time! It may be beneficial to obtain the assistance of a competent, VA accredited attorney to help assess your qualifications and prepare your paperwork. If you have made errors when applying, the process of appealing will be more time-consuming. Although it is cold comfort to the many veterans awaiting payment of their claims, the VA does pay benefits back to the time of application, which is another reason to apply as soon as you are eligible!
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.