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Planning for Veterans Benefits: What to Know & Do Before You File a Claim

Page Reviewed / Updated - February 25, 2010

Whether one is planning for veterans benefits themselves or they are getting professional assistance, there is a lot to know about the preparation and application process.  Follows are some concepts about which all applicants should be aware before filing any claims.

Application Planning & Assistance Options - What paid and free assistance options exist to help veterans and / or their surviving spouses prepare for and apply for benefits?   When and why to look for help?  When it is OK to go it alone and what to expect in either case?

Filing an Informal Claim for VA Benefits -  What is an informal claim?  Why it is important? Exploring the pros and cons of the informal claim process as well as a how to and how not to guide.

Filing a Fully Developed Claim - This approach vastly reduces the time needed for the VA to reach an approval or denial decision on a claim.  Learn which types of claims can use this approach and why or why not you might want to take this approach instead of filing a regular claim.

How the VA Calculates Income - How the VA calculates income is critical because it directly impacts how much pension benefits a veteran is due.  This article defines income from the VA's perspective and offers tips and tricks to maximize benefits, including how family members can be paid as caregivers. 

Claiming Assisted Living Costs to Increase A&A Pension - How and when can assisted living costs be deducted from income in order to increase the Aid & Attendance benefit and the impact of different marital and living situations.

VA Aid & Attendance and Housebound Pensions - Learn all about these pensions including eligibility, benefits and processes.  A good to begin for those who are just discovering the benefit. 

Aid & Attendance and Housebound Disability Requirements - Read about the level of care needs that are required to be eligible for these additional monetary pension benefits.

VA Benefits vs. Medicaid - Many veterans have the option to pursue both a VA Pension or Medicaid assistance, but not both.  Which is more beneficial for your family's situation now and in the future?

This section will be updated continuously with new articles related to Veterans Benefits Planning.  Please tell us your ideas for useful articles for this section.