ElderLaw News — The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. — MD, VA, DC
ElderLaw News

ElderLaw News is a weekly e-newsletter that brings you reports of legal developments and other trends of vital interest to seniors and their advocates. This newsletter is brought to you by The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., William S. Fralin, Esq., President., William S. Fralin, Esq., President.

Online Application for VA Benefits

As we all know, there are many types of claims for disability compensation.

Those that are administered through the "Veterans" Veterans Administration (VA) are currently experiencing a 14-16 month delay in processing, when those claims are submitted by mail. Some clients are even passing away before they can receive any benefits.

However, there is now some good news! It has just been learned that a veteran or a Veteran’s Service Officer (VSO) may file a Fully-Developed Claim for Service-Connected or Non-Service-Connected Benefits online. The processing time for an online application cuts the waiting time in half, as compared to the traditional mail-in application. "Finding a key piece of evidence in a thick paper file folder takes time," said James Thomas, a claims specialist at the Salt Lake VA Regional Office. "With digital claims records, we can find all the key information related to the claim with a key stroke." The VA is attempting to eliminate the backlog by 2015. With that goal in mind, it has authorized overtime for claims processors in its 56 regional offices through the end of FY 2013. The VA is also urging online filing, because it has other advantages as well. Online applicants can track the status of their claim and access a host of information on such related services as education, home loans, and vocational rehabilitation and employment programs.

Even if the application cannot be completed in one sitting, there are advantages to filing online. Once the process has begun, the veteran has 365 days to complete it. Even in such an extreme case, the date of the application is calculated from the date it was initially filed (not completed). This starts the clock ticking, in layman’s terms, so that if the veteran qualifies, benefits are paid back to that original filing date. To learn more about veteran disability benefits, go to www.ebenefits.va.gov. There’s really no downside to this new process, and it’s the way things are done today.

(Source = VA News Release, July 18, 2013 from http://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/opalist_listserv)

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The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. is an elder law firm. We represent older persons, disabled persons, their families, and their advocates. The practice of elder law includes estate planning, estate and trust administration, powers of attorney, advance medical directives, titling of assets and designations of beneficiaries, guardianships, conservatorships, and public entitlements such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and SSI, disability planning, income tax planning and preparation, care management, and fiduciary services. For more information about The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., please visit our website at http://www.chroniccareadvocacy.com.

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This newsletter is not intended as a substitute for legal counsel. While every precaution has been taken to make this newsletter accurate, we assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or damages resulting from the use of the information in this newsletter. The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. thanks the law firm of Hook Law Center for their input to this newsletter.

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