Some veterans can expedite VA disability claims due to financial hardship, terminal illness, homelessness, or advanced age. This article breaks down these four reasons veterans can expedite VA disability claims in detail.
Veterans are only able to expedite compensation claims. Pension claims will not be expedited by the VA.
The rules to have your claim expedited are very strict and veterans must be eligible either by financial hardship, homelessness, terminal illness, or advanced age. We have seen the VA approve a very small percentage of expedite applications. VA disability claims are expedited on a case-by-case basis.
If the VA does approve your application to expedite your VA disability claim, the process is still slow. Veterans are under the impression that getting their claim expedited means you’ll get a decision quickly during the appeal phase – you won’t. If you expedite VA disability claims, they don’t necessarily move to the front of the appeals back log.
Four Ways Vets Can Expedite VA Disability Claims
1. Extreme Financial Hardship
Financial hardship is not automatically approved if one of the below reasons are met. The VA is going to look at your overall financial situation. Being down on your luck recently is probably not going to be enough of a reason for the VA to expedite VA disability claims due to hardship.
If you are trying to expedite VA disability claims due to hardship, you should supply evidence. Veterans can submit bank statements, utility bills, foreclosure documents, food stamp records, and other documents that help prove extreme financial hardship.
Just because you meet one of the examples does not mean your VA disability claim will be automatically expedited. The following are some of the reasons the VA will expedite VA disability claims due to hardship:
- Can’t afford food, medical expenses, transportation, shelter, or clothing
- Collection notices from creditors
- Eviction notice
- Foreclosure on home
- Repossession of car
- Seizure of property or assets
- Utilities cut off
Veterans that do not have a fixed, regular nighttime residence may expedite VA disability claims. Veterans who live in homeless shelters, transitional housing, hotels, or outside may expedite VA disability claims. Unfortunately, the VA does not expedite every veterans benefits claim filed by homeless vets.
3. Advanced Age
The VA defines “advanced age” as 75 years of age or older.
4. Terminal Illness
Veterans that are diagnosed with a terminal illness may have their VA disability claim expedited. You should provide the VA with evidence of your diagnosis when you ask for your VA disability claim to be expedited.
If you can provide a diagnosis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, your claim should be automatically expedited. Here are two situations in which the VA will expedite claims because of terminal illnesses:
- Being placed in hospice care
- Diagnosis of terminal illness
Four Reasons That Won’t Expedite VA Disability Claims
1. Your Appeal Has Taken a Long Time
Unfortunately, this is not a reason the VA will expedite VA disability claims – even though it should be. The VA disability application and appeals timeline will likely take years. If you are appealing a denial or low-rating, be prepared for an appeals process that can stretch out over 5-6 years. That isn’t a typo, that is how slow the VA is currently processing claims. The VA will not expedite VA disability claims just because you have waited a long time for a decision. We hate to tell you that waiting years is the norm for VA disability claims.
2. You are the Squeaky Wheel
The squeaky wheel does not get grease at the VA. We have heard many veterans tell us over the years they are being pushy with the VA to get their claim through the process faster. This just doesn’t work. Remember, you attract more flies with honey than vinegar. The VA has lots of cumbersome processes they must go through by law. The VA examiner must follow the bureaucratic rules when they are processing your VA disability claim. You are not going to convince the VA to expedite VA disability claims by being a jerk.
3. A Congressperson Wrote You a Letter
This is a rumor we hear all the time: ‘my Congressperson is going to write a letter to get my claim through faster.’ Unfortunately, this is not a trick that will expedite VA disability claims. Your Congressperson is an elected official and is trying to earn/keep your vote. Their letter to the VA is to show you that they care about their constituents.
You can request a Congressional Inquiry from your Representative or Senator. They are not obligated to help. We haven’t really seen many VA disability claims actually be expedited from Congressional Inquiries. It can happen, but unfortunately, this isn’t a top priority for many Congressional offices. This generally isn’t an avenue of help that works for many veterans that have waited a long time for VA disability benefits.
4. You Already Have Social Security Benefits
The VA will not expedite VA disability claims if the veteran already has social security disability benefits. Veterans that believe this are often confusing the law. If you currently have a 100% VA disability rating the Social Security Administration will expedite your SSDI or SSI benefits claim. Unfortunately, the VA does not offer the same to veterans with SSI or SSDI benefits.
FAQ: How to Expedite VA Disability Claims
If expedited, how long does a VA disability claim take?
If your initial application is expedited, you may receive a decision fairly quickly. If your VA disability was denied and you are approved for an expedited appeal, don’t expect a decision overnight. The VA disability appeals process can still take years even if your VA disability claim was expedited.
If expedited, how long does the VA have to make a decision?
If you successfully expedite VA disability claims, there really isn’t a timeline for how long your claim will take. Being expedited does not mean the VA has a deadline to make a decision.
Does expedited mean I’ll move to the front of the line for the BVA?
No. The backlog of VA benefits appeals means the entire system moves like molasses. Our VA benefits appeals lawyers are always having to explain to clients that expedited doesn’t mean ‘fast.’ There is even a backlog of expedited claims. Seriously. The entire system is broken and veterans are forced to wait their turn.
Will hiring a lawyer automatically get claim my expedited?
No. Hiring a VA certified disability attorney will not automatically get your claim expedited. We try to expedite VA disability claims when we can for clients. However, the VA has very strict guidelines on who can and cannot expedite VA disability claims. We certainly do not guarantee we can get a client’s VA disability claim expedited.
What happens if the veteran dies during the VA disability process?
This sad situation happens all the time. It breaks our hearts because we have lost many wonderful clients over the years. If the veteran has dependents, the claim may not necessarily die with the veteran. Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) claims are for surviving spouses, dependent parents, and dependent children of veterans that passed away from service-connected disabilities. If you have questions, you can always reach out to the DIC veteran widow benefits attorneys at Woods & Woods to talk about your DIC claim.
Need help with your VA claim? Woods & Woods offers free legal consultations to any veteran or family member that has questions about VA disability benefits. Our staff will be happy to answer your questions and help guide you in the right direction with your VA disability claim.