While there is no rushing the VA, if you qualify, you may be eligible to get your disability claim expedited. One of these criteria is financial hardship.
VA claim backlogs have soared, doubling in six months thanks to the disruption caused by the Corona Virus Pandemic.
While the VA made progress in reducing the backlog numbers in recent years, the situation has once again reverted. If you are filing for VA benefits, this means that your application process could (and probably will) take a lot longer than usual.
In this article about getting VA disability faster for financial hardship:
- Proving Financial Hardship to the VA Can Expedite Your Claim
- What Does Expedite Mean for VA Claims?
- What the VA Considers Financial Hardship
- How to Prove Financial Hardship
- Can a VA Financial Hardship Determination Expedite a Claim Appeal?
- Can Financial Hardship Keep VA Disability From Reduction?
- Why You Need a VA Lawyer Even When Undergoing Financial Hardship
- Benefits of a Financial Hardship Determination From the VA and VA Relief Programs
- Get a VA Lawyer on Your Case Today—With No Fee Until We Win
Proving financial hardship is not just a matter of saying to the VA you’re facing tough times. To successfully get your application or appeal expedited, you will need to provide evidence that you are suffering from legitimate and severe financial hardship.
If you would like to know how to do this—and give your claim the best chance of timely processing—keep reading. Because we are about to share with you everything you need to know about proving hardship to the VA and what this means for your claim.
Proving Financial Hardship to the VA Can Expedite Your Claim
If you are wondering “can I receive VA money sooner for hardship?” the short answer is yes. However, there are some caveats.
Financial hardship is one of the qualifying criteria for claim expedition. Other criteria include terminal illness and advanced age. Take note that if you are one of the over 39,400 homeless veterans in the US, this is also one of the criteria that can allow you to expedite your VA claim.
To speed up your claim, you will need to follow the required VA expedited claim process to expedite your case on the grounds of financial hardship. If you can successfully prove to the VA that you are in extreme hardship due to financial issues, then you may be able to get your claim expedited.
Before we get into how to do this, and what’s considered financial hardship by the VA, let’s quickly take a look at what exactly you can expect from expediting your claim with the VA.
What Does Expedite Mean for VA Claims?
When one hears the term “expedited”, it’s easy to assume that once expedited, claims go to the top of the pile, or get processed within a certain amount of time.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. When expedited, a claim gets flashed by the VA so that representatives who work on it know that it should get treated in an expeditious way.
However, once expedited, a claim does get given automated priority by the VA. Unfortunately, they are also under no obligation to finalize it within a given timeframe.
What’s more, you claim also won’t necessarily go to the “top of the pile” either. Believe it or not, there is even a backlog of expedited VA claims. Yours will simply join the queue, and get processed when its turn comes.
So what’s the bottom line? Is it even worth it to try and get your claim expedited by proving financial hardship?
Yes, in most cases it is worth expediting your claim if you can. Although you still won’t know by what date the claim will get processed, and it will have to wait for its place in the queue, it will likely get processed sooner than if you didn’t get your claim expedited.
Seeing as there are currently 114,000 VA compensation and pension exams on backlog, now is an especially important time to consider trying to expedite your claim.
What the VA Considers Financial Hardship
For the VA to expedite your claim they require that financial hardship be severe. Tough times or bad job luck won’t necessarily qualify you. However, if you can prove without a doubt that you are suffering from dire financial hardship—there is a good chance that the expedited claim process will be successful.
Some of the signs of financial hardship that the VA will deem valid are:
- Home foreclosure
- Filing for bankruptcy
- Repossession of your vehicle
- Having your utilities terminated because you can’t pay the bill
- Being evicted
- Being unable to cover your basic costs of living, such as food, medical costs, clothing, and shelter
If you are experiencing any of the above, then there is a chance that the VA will grant your claim expedition, as long as you have sufficient proof.
How to Prove Financial Hardship
Now that you know whether you are experiencing financial hardship in the eyes of the VA, let’s take a look at how to prove it.
The first thing you will need to do to start the VA expedited claim process is to fill out VA form 10-10hs. This form is a request for hardship determination, which will determine whether or not your claim qualifies for expediting.
If you are applying for financial aid from the VA, then you will also need to fill out VA hardship form 5655. This is a declaration of your financial position to the VA.
This form is not used in the VA expedited claim process. Instead, it’s used when applying for assistance such as debt exemptions, debt negotiations, medical debt waivers, etc.
Once you have filled out the hardship form, you will need to file this with the VA. You can do so either online, via post, or at your nearest VA office. When filing the VA hardship letter, you will also need to submit any evidence you have of financial hardship.
This could be:
- A court bankruptcy ruling
- A foreclosure notice on you home
- Repossession notice for personal assets such as your vehicle
- Other correspondence from creditors
- An eviction notice
- A notice informing you of termination of your water and electricity services
Once you have submitted everything you need to to the VA, you will need to wait until they reach a decision.
If the VA rejects your request for financial hardship status, the VA requires that their representative list the reasons for rejection. If you have further supporting evidence of your situation, you can start re-instigate the process, however, you will need to start from the beginning.
If you call us to ask all of your questions for free, we will look over your case and help you get all of these forms in order. If you got denied, we’ll ask for your rating decision letter and get to work on figuring out what the VA needs to approve your disability.
Here is one of our VA disability lawyers explaining what we do when we appeal your case with the VA.
Can a VA Financial Hardship Determination Expedite a Claim Appeal?
Are you wondering whether or not financial hardship can speed up an appeal? Yes, it can.
Getting a determination of financial hardship from the VA will allow you to expedite new disability claims, as well as appeals. However, take note that this is only possible if you can prove financial hardship. The amount of time your appeal has taken so far will have no bearing on whether or not the VA will expedite it.
Can Financial Hardship Keep VA Disability From Reduction?
If your VA disability compensation is due to decrease, financial hardship status won’t stop this from happening.
In some cases, the VA will determine that a veteran receives a higher disability rating for a period of time, such as when recovering from an illness or injury. After the specified time, the disability rating goes down, and with that the veteran’s compensation rate.
If this is due to happen to you, the VA determining you as suffering from financial hardship won’t influence your rating. If your rating is due to decrease unfairly (e.g. you are more incapacitated than expected after recovery) then you will need to appeal the rating itself.
However, one thing that a financial hardship determination can do for you is potentially speed up your appeal.
To maximize the chances of a productive appeal, we would recommend that you consider hiring a VA benefits appeal lawyer. Government data reveals that the VA grants a mere 35.75% of appeals. Therefore you will want to do everything within your power to increase the chance of a successful appeal, and having a VA lawyer on your side is one of the best ways to do this.
Why You Need a VA Lawyer Even When Undergoing Financial Hardship
One of the unfortunate things we see as VA lawyers is that veterans who are experiencing financial hardship often refrain from seeking legal help when dealing with the VA.
This is completely understandable, as no one wants to pay money they don’t have to a lawyer for dealing with the VA.
Unfortunately, having a lawyer on your side can be crucial for a successful claims process. This means that those veterans who need it most may not get the compensation they deserve for their claim.
Are you in this position? Are you hesitant or unable to fork out money for legal assistance with your VA claim? If so, we have some good news.
If you choose us to help you with your claim, you won’t have to pay us a dime, unless we win your claim. What’s more, we take less than many other legal firms that deal with VA cases.
According to United States law, firms like us are only allowed to request 30% of your backpay. Many legal practices charge the entire capped 30%. We, on the other hand, only charge 20% of backpay on successful claims.
This means you can get a good deal and if your claim is unsuccessful, you won’t have to part with a cent.
If you are suffering from severe financial hardship, your first inclination may be to handle your claim on your own. However, if you cannot afford to have the claim process be unsuccessful, seek assistance.
Here is a behind-the-scenes look at the team that works for you at Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm.
Benefits of a Financial Hardship Determination From the VA and VA Relief Programs
Besides qualifying your claim for expedited treatment, a financial hardship determination from the VA also has another benefit. All veterans who the VA determines to be experiencing financial hardship are automatically exempt from the payment of medical and hospital care copays.
If you are laboring under medical co-payments while suffering financial difficulties, this relief can be of significant benefit.
Besides this automatic financial support, the VA also offers other relief programs that veterans can apply for. These include:
- The VA hardship grant
- VA Medical Care Hardship Program
- Low or no-cost Medicare
- Medical debt forgiveness
Besides these programs, the VA will also assist veterans who are facing foreclosure. Their foreclosure specialists will advocate for you and request that lenders offer you an alternative to foreclosure.
Get a VA Lawyer on Your Case Today—With No Fee Until We Win
Now that you know what’s considered financial hardship by the VA, you’re equipped to know whether or not you should apply for a determination.
Do you have a claim that has been sitting with the VA? Are you struggling with a lengthy appeal process?
If this is the case, our VA lawyers here at Woods and Woods are eager and equipped to assist you. We have been representing injured and disabled people since 1985, and specialize in helping ex-servicemen and women gain rightful disability compensation.
As mentioned above, our prices are below market average, and we don’t charge anything unless we win your claim. This means, no awarded claim, no pay. Simple as that.
If you want to increase the chance of a successful and smooth VA claims process, reach out to us and let us start helping you get the compensation you need.