The VA is notoriously known for their long wait times and their immense backlog. This will often time leave veterans who are dealing with the VA frustrated and wanting to give up. I have heard it too many times before: “the VA is just waiting for me to die”. It saddens me every time I hear this. With the continuous backlog, it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.
I was in line waiting to pay for my groceries at my local grocery store when the woman in front of me turned around and stated: “hurry up and wait; that is the story of my life”. I didn’t realize that we must have been waiting in line for at least 15 minutes without moving. We ended up talking about her husband, a veteran, who also understands the struggle of the “hurry up and wait” business. She explained that her husband has been waiting several weeks for his hearing aids. She mentioned that her husband is nearly deaf without them.
The VA’s backlog is not only affecting veterans who are waiting for their hearing aids and other needed medical treatment, but also the veterans who are facing homelessness and extreme financial hardship. The good news is that there may be some light at the end of the tunnel. There are three circumstances that can qualify a veteran’s claim to be expedited or processed with priority:
- Veterans who are terminally ill
- Veterans who are facing extreme financial hardship and/or homelessness
- Veterans who have reached advanced age – there is uncertainty in the law as to whether the age for expedite begins at age 75 years of age or 85 years of age
Providing the VA with evidence of the above circumstances will help the VA determine if a request for an expedite can be granted. However, it is very important to keep in mind that the VA does not have to grant a veteran an expedite.
Some examples of evidence that can be provided to the VA to support a request for an expedite is as follows:
- Veterans who are terminally ill:
- A letter from the veteran’s doctor
- Veterans who are facing extreme financial hardship:
- Past due bills
- Bank statements
- Proof of bankruptcy
- VA Form 5655: Financial Status Report. This report will show the VA how your monthly expenses exceed the veteran’s income
- Veterans who are facing homelessness or who are homeless:
- An eviction notice
- Other proof of homelessness, living in a shelter, etc.
- Veterans who have reached advanced age:
- Proof of advanced age, such as a birth certificate or government ID card
Unfortunately, other than under the above circumstances, there are no other real ways to speed up the VA. The VA works on its own time schedule. For this reason, the “hurry up and wait” slogan will be attached to the VA for the foreseeable future.
Veterans who meet the criteria to request an expedite on their claim should do so. As previously stated, it is not guaranteed that the VA will grant the request. But, if all of the necessary evidence and circumstances are present, it is definitely worth a try.