The VA Aid and Attendance pension is very flexible since it may be utilized in assisted living, non-medical home care, independent living, and in some circumstances skilled nursing. After years of complaints from veterans about having to fill out 26 pages of forms to file a claim for a VA pension, the VA has introduced a new form 21-526 that has been shortened to 6 pages plus 4 pages of instructions. Some veterans who saw the 26 pages of forms required previously never completed the paperwork because they felt the process was too daunting. This new form should help in that regard. After veterans start to receive the Aid and Attendance pension, Veterans are also eligible to receive free medications from a VA mail-order pharmacy after they receive the pension.
The VA is also addressing the waiting time for retroactive payment of pensions once the forms are complete. The VA is now using an optional process called Fully Developed Claims. The goal is to process claims within 90 days of receipt. A claim is considered fully developed when the claimant has provided a DD-214 discharge record, all medical and financial supporting documents, and requires no additional VA assistance except for obtaining federal records. The fully developed claim process was piloted in 10 cities as a result of the Veterans Benefit Improvement Act of 2008 and is now available all over the country. You must use the new form 21-527EZ and attach all documents needed to support the claim when filing a Fully Developed Claim with the VA. The new forms are 4 pages long with 3 pages of instructions which is a substantial reduction from the previous forms. Examples of supporting documents include a certified copy of the veteran’s discharge record, proof of income and medical expenses, and proof of net worth (assets such as CDs, cash, and saving accounts). Failure to provide the support documents will put the claim into the standard claim process that could easily double the wait period. This new process will be welcome news for those veterans who have minimal savings and are waiting for the pension to be approved while they are paying for long-term care.
It is not known if form 21-534, used for pension submission for surviving spouses, will have a Fully Developed Claim option available in the future.
Joseph Scott McCarthy is the author of Checks for Vets, a guidebook to help wartime service veterans and their surviving spouses receive VA pensions to pay for long-term care. His website is www.checksforvets.com
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Joe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 877-249-8387