One of the most frustrating aspects of the current partial shutdown of the Federal government is the impact on the veterans and surviving spouses of veterans whom I serve in my elder law practice. These seniors are often in a crisis situation, and need to pursue the VA Pension with Aid and Attendance Supplement to offset the cost of their care.
It is good timing that the VA has developed a new, expedited process for filing claims for these benefits called a “Fully Developed Claim,” or “FDC.” The following forms, which are available at VA.gov, have been created for these types of claims:
21-526EZ for veterans disability compensation (service-connected injuries)
21-527EZ for veterans pension (non-service connected; this is the form for the Aid and Attendance benefits)
21-534EZ for surviving spouses and children (for ongoing pension benefits, and benefits due to the death of the veteran as a result of his service)
21-534EZ for accrued benefits for surviving spouses, children, and dependent parents of service connected veterans (for the benefits that were owed to the veteran at the time of his death, but not continuing forward).
In order for a claim to be processed as a fully-developed claim, it must contain all supporting forms and evidence, including medical evidence and/or records, and all relevant marital information and discharge papers. If you are seeking benefits for Aid and Attendance, the form must include documentation of the cost of the care being provided, and documentation that the care is meeting the needs described in the physician’s report.
The VA requests that the new forms be used for all claims. If the VA finds that the claim lacks any required documentation, they will bump the claim into regular processing, so one has nothing to lose by submitting a FDC. And these claims can be submitted on-line, so no time will be lost if you are ready to get the claim in during the shutdown.
Our Elder Care Law Firm has developed a helpful Guide to Veterans’ Pension Benefits. Feel free to call our office, or request a copy through the “Contact Us” form to the right of this post.