Indiana Military Family Relief Fund Helps to Bridge the Gap for Vets Waiting on Benefits

Indiana is trying to help solve problems created by the backlog of claims plaguing the VA. When a veteran buys a license plate, that money goes to the Indiana Military Family Relief Fund. The fund was created to help veterans pay for food, housing, medical bills, and other miscellaneous expenses. Post 9/11 veterans have access to the fund for the first three years upon returning from active duty. In January, new legislation will be introduced to expunge the three year time limit. This will help many veterans whose appeals have been pending for more than three years.

The Indiana Military Family Relief Fund averages a balance of around $7 million, and about six claims a week are granted. Only five veterans have been turned away since February because they did not qualify as a result of the time limit. Governor Mike Pence has also required all 92 county veteran service officers be trained and accredited by spring to better help with the filing process. This will become essential in the future, because the VA’s heavy investment in technology is driving changes in the law. The VA recently – in October – proposed rules that create incentives to file claims via the eBenefits system. For county VSO’s, a working knowledge of the VA’s electronic filing system will be necessary. The new proposed framework which promotes electronic filing will place a heavier burden on VSO’s by requiring veterans to use specific forms for different kinds of filings. Submissions to the VA will need to be more specific, more technical, and compliant with proposed rules. So, Indiana’s requirement for trained VSO’s is timely.

Financial Help for Vets Waiting for a Decision on VA Benefits

During the time while waiting for a favorable decision from an appellate authority, many veterans struggle financially. It is not uncommon for our office to receive calls from veterans who need a decision on an appeal desperately because funds are running out. Our advocates have an especially useful legal instrument that is suitable for some cases – a Petition for Extraordinary Relief filed at the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Each veterans disability advocate at Veterans Help Group is a member of the CAVC bar. Sometimes a petition can help provide financial relief by obtaining a decision from the VA. Please contact us if you could make use of this assistance.

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