Many of you have heard of the VA benefit commonly known as “Aid and Attendance.” You probably know that the Veteran or spouse of the Veteran has to wait to apply for this benefit until they require assistance with activities of daily living (whether at home or in a nursing home or even assisted living facility). You have also probably heard from folks in the community that the benefit can take months-even YEARS-to obtain. What you may not know is that there is actually a way to get a claim for benefits approved more quickly-it’s a process called a “fully developed claim.”
The fully developed claim process with the VA puts a claim for benefits on a “fast track.” Rather than waiting a couple of years for approval for much-needed (and well-deserved) VA benefits, a fully developed claim can be approved in as little as two months. For a claim to be considered fully developed, the application must contain all of the pieces of evidence that the VA might ask for. There is certain evidence that is typically needed with every application-a certified copy of the Veteran’s DD-214, statements to show current assets, completed VA application, doctor paperwork, statement of medical expenses, and special paperwork to verify care being received. There is also additional evidence that the VA will typically request and that evidence varies from case to case. A VA-accredited attorney who regularly files VA applications would be able to assess each situation to determine the type of additional evidence the VA would request. As such, if that evidence is included with the initial application, along with all of the standard pieces of evidence, the application has a greater chance of being placed onto the fast track process.
If the process for gathering all of this evidence sounds daunting and you or a loved one is already in an expensive care situation- don’t worry. There is actually a very simple process to “lock-in” an effective pay date for these much-needed benefits while you work on gathering all of the information for the fully developed claim. It’s called an “intent to file” and it is a very simple VA document that can be signed and faxed to the VA to put the VA on notice that you are working on filing a claim. This ensures that you can effectively begin your claim process for the VA benefits but also gather everything needed to submit your fully developed claim.
If you or someone you know is thinking about filing a claim for VA benefits, do not hesitate to reach out to the VA accredited attorneys at Critchfield, Critchfield & Johnston, Ltd. We are happy to have a conversation with you about how to best navigate the VA benefits system. Please do not hesitate to reach out to our office.