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

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 Answer

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.