How long should an application for Veteran's Assistance take to process?

5 answers | Last updated: Aug 07, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

I applied for VA Aid and Attendance for my mother who suffers from dementia and is in assisted living. This was back in May. Since May, I have received 4 letters from the VA all saying the same thing -"we are processing your application and we apologize for the delay". It is now nearly November. How much longer will it take for her to see this processed? The VA won't really give me a straight answer, but unless this money starts coming in soon, she will need to take out a loan to continue paying for her care.

Expert Answers

Rita Files, LPN, VSR, a nationally recognized expert on the elderly, has more than 30 years of experience in the health care industry, with 20 years focused on eldercare. She has developed programs for many leading providers in the senior living industry. Accredited through the V.A. in veterans' benefits, she is an advocate and powerful resource committed to educating veterans and their families about the nonservice connected pension benefit and providing them with accurate information. She is cofounder and COO of Aging with Grace.

I know this must be very frustrating for your family. On the positive side, you are in the system, as once an applicant becomes a claimant the VA has a "duty to assist" and must communicate with the claimant every thirty days.

There is a way to check the status of your claim online. The VA Inquiry Routing & Information System (IRIS)affords an opportunity to ask questions, submit comments, check the status of your claim and more. People are reporting that they are receiving feedback within a few days.

In the future, if you or anyone you know plans to file a claim for VA Benefits, it is wise to file an informal claim. An informal claim is simply a statement, accompanied by the Veteran's name and claim number, which reads, "I intend to apply for the Non-Service Connected VA Disability Pension Benefit for Aid & Attendance for either a Veteran, Veteran and Spouse or Surviving Spouse This statement is to preserve my effective date for entitlement to benefits. I am in the process of assembling my claim package for submission". In the case of a surviving spouse, they would be the one to sign the form, however they would complete the top of the form with the late Veteran's information.

By doing this, the date the informal claim is received by VA will serve as the effective date for entitlement to benefits if the claim is ultimately approved. When the Veteran or Surviving Spouse has all the information and evidence ready to submit the formal claim, they then send it to VA.

Since the benefit is retroactive,you would receive the back benefit from the first day of the month following the date of filing the informal claim instead of the date that the full formal claim is submitted. In many cases, this results in thousands of dollars in retroactive benefits.

This unfortunately is not an option for you at this point, however there is a company that offers a loan structured like a line of credit to help pay for senior living.

Community Answers

Sharong answered...

It took 9 months for the checks to start and 14 months to get the back pay. It was a long process and still making me pull my hair out. My mom's income in 705.00 and she is suppose to pay me 645.00 per month while this is sorted out. She could only pay me 2 months and then began to panic. I just Invoiced her with a note that I would waive her payment until we were approved and paid. It will happen and it's wonderful to have.

A fellow caregiver answered...

We have been waiting for get this 19 months. My dad is a 92 year old WW2 veteran .They keep asking for the same info. Medical reports etc. Meanwhile my parents are in nursing and dementia care at a total cost of $7500 per month. There savings are exhausted and I can not find a decent medicaid facility nor do I want to. I pay the balance minus there pension and SS out of my OWN retirement funds. I have contacted my senator (marco rubio) to no avail. To busy campaigning.

Googoo's daughter answered...

Filed for aid & attendance in July of 2012 for my 96 year old mother who lives in assisted living. We were ecstatic to get the news last month that she was through the system (after 15 months of waiting, calling, and hoping) and would receive benefits within a few days. We then received the letter stating she would receive the monthly payment but the retroactive amount was being withheld because they were proposing incompetency because her doctor had included a line about mild short term memory issues. Instead of disputing their decision, because we felt it would delay things even more, my mother signed in agreement and I attached a statement of claim asking to be my mother's fiduciary. But how long will we have to wait for these funds which are absolutely necessary for her to continue living in her home? From what I am reading, it will be too long. When we first learned she was through the system, we were deliriously happy because we thought she could now afford to stay in her home - we kept saying "in the nick of time" - it finally came through - after all of the time and the work and the worry. Though we are very grateful for the monthly payment, our celebration has now turned to despair once again - back to waiting for months for the retro? - will my mother have to move out of her assisted living apartment now afterall? The retroactive amount is badly needed soon to keep her going. I am heartbroken for her and I feel defeated and exhausted.

Maryjoeyleslie answered...

Call you State Representative or Congressman. After waiting months, it took two weeks after I contacted the State Representative's office. VA will drag their feet as long as they can because they don't want to pay, they don't care about the men and women of the military.