For many Veterans, the traditional benefits claim process takes too long. If they need financial assistance now, the months-long wait that the benefits process normally takes may result in further financial instability, missed medical appointments, and other negative consequences.
Thankfully, the VA allows Veterans to fill out specific forms and apply for financial hardship. If your application is accepted, the VA may expedite your benefits claim, and the VA may accelerate any other claims you’ve made for government benefits as well. Today, let’s take a look at how to fill out the VA financial hardship form step-by-step.
According to the VA, financial hardship means you are in dire need. You require the monthly disability compensation from the VA sooner rather than later.
However, as with many other benefits-related terms, the VA has a range of proof you’ll need to provide to signal adequate financial hardship to expedite your benefits claim. For instance, you can show the VA the below signs to prove that you have financial hardship:
Furthermore, you may have eligibility for health care and other benefits if you have dependents. Active duty military service personnel should file VA Form 10-10HS to accelerate their disability claims for themselves and their family members. The VA may expedite your claim based on advanced age or terminal illness.
If you can prove that you are experiencing financial hardship, you may be able to expedite your VA benefits claim. Expediting your VA benefits claim means you could bump your claim to the top of the current cases the VA is evaluating.
For instance, there are over 39,400 homeless Veterans in the US at the time of this writing. Homeless Veterans are often automatically qualified for expedited Veterans benefits claims since they need financial assistance more than others.
It’s important to note that expediting your VA benefits claim doesn’t mean the VA will immediately review it. Instead, a VA case representative or analyst will know that the VA should prioritize your claim. The VA is not obligated to finalize your case or make a decision within a designated time frame.
Furthermore, if many other Veterans file claims for expedited treatment, the VA will not put your claim ahead of theirs. You can check the financial status report for your claim and your eligibility for benefits like education and Social Security to see how they are proceeding.
Even with these considerations, knowing how to fill out the VA financial hardship form in case you need financial assistance quickly is important.
To prove financial hardship to the VA and expedite your benefits claim, follow the steps below sequentially. It’s a wise idea to contact knowledgeable Veterans law attorneys to help you through the process.
Form 10-10HS is the official Request for Hardship Determination form. You must include your name, identifying information, military records, proof of service-connected disabilities, and other relevant information. The more information you provide, the faster the VA can verify your information and make a benefits claim decision.
You can download Form 10-10HS on the VA’s website.
Next, you’ll also need to fill out Form 5655 if you are applying for financial aid from the VA, such as debt relief. This form essentially declares your current financial situation to the VA. Note that it’s not used for the expedited claim process. Still, it can be useful if you require VA assistance for specific financial needs, like a medical debt waiver, debt negotiations, etc.
The VA can help with out-of-pocket expenses or provide additional VA disability benefits if you supply supporting documentation at VA health and VA medical centers. Then, you and your dependents may qualify for more Veterans services (though this is somewhat based on household income).
Regardless, you’ll need to collect evidence proving your financial hardship before the VA will expedite your claim.
There’s a lot of different evidence that you can collect. For example, a court bankruptcy ruling can show that you are in dire financial straits and need assistance ASAP. Other examples of evidence that can prove financial hardship include:
It’s important to gather as much evidence as possible. The stronger you can make your application for expedited benefits, the more likely it is the VA will prove your claim in the first place. Veterans law attorneys can tell you whether you have gathered enough evidence or help you collect information if necessary.
Once you’ve collected all the appropriate evidence and filled out the above relevant forms, you should submit them to the VA. You can do this in person by visiting your local VA office or the VA’s website.
Filing online is recommended, as the VA will receive your information more quickly and be able to get back to you electronically. If you file by mail, be prepared to wait another few days before you hear back at the minimum.
If your claim is accepted, you will be granted financial hardship status. That means the VA will expedite your benefits claim and receive attention more quickly than expected.
Filing a claim for financial hardship status is just the start. There’s also no guarantee that you will receive financial hardship status, even if you supply the VA with plenty of evidence.
If your claim for financial hardship status is denied, you will have to wait for your claim to be examined and investigated on a normal timescale. This can take several weeks or months. However, you can work with Veterans law attorneys to file another claim for financial hardship status or pursue other actions.
No matter what the exact circumstances of your disability benefits case might be, you should contact Veterans law attorneys at the earliest opportunity. The right law firm can provide a range of invaluable assistance.
For example, Veterans law attorneys can help you gather strong, substantiating evidence proving that you need financial hardship status now. This can include specific bills, correspondence, and other forms or letters that can all substantiate your claim.
They can also help you transfer these evidence items into digital formats, enabling you to file your claim online (thus expediting your application for expedited claim status).
Furthermore, Veterans law attorneys can answer any questions you have about what it means for your benefits claim to be expedited. For instance, if you are in desperate need of financial aid and don’t know whether filing a claim for financial hardship status will help, your attorneys can advise you based on the current state of the VA and their case backlog.
If you are worried about payment for your representation, reputable law firms often operate on a contingency fee basis. That means you won’t have to pay that law firm until you receive financial benefits from the VA. In this way, you don’t need to add to your bills or other financial obligations while trying to receive financial assistance.
Filling out a Department of Veterans Affairs financial hardship form shouldn’t be too difficult, especially with the assistance of knowledgeable attorneys. At Berry Law, we can help you determine what you need to do to ensure your financial hardship claim is accepted, provide you with invaluable advice when filling out your form, and assist you with additional resources.
Contact us today to learn more.
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