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Veterans who are temporarily disabled as a result of a service-connected ailment may be entitled to temporary and total disability pay equal to their VA rating. Temporary 100% disability ratings are available from the VA in three forms: pre-stabilization, hospitalization, and convalescence. These VA benefits are available to veterans who are facing temporary, severe medical conditions as a result of a service-connected disability.
Before we go into how long it takes to receive a VA convalescent pay, let's first discuss it.
What Is A VA Convalescent Pay?
Convalescence is the VA's third and final type of temporary complete compensation. According to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC), convalescence is "the stage of recovery after a disease attack, a surgical procedure, or an injury," while recovery is "the act of recovering or returning to a normal or healthy state."
VA medical centers or VA-approved hospitals temporarily grant a convalescence rating of 100% to veterans who have received therapy or surgery for a service-connected disability. To be eligible for a temporary or total convalescence grade, the veteran must have the following:
- Undergone treatment or surgery that required at least one month of convalescence
- Suffering from severe postoperative residuals (e.g., surgical wounds are not completely healed, the veteran is rendered housebound, or requires continuous use of crutches or a wheelchair)
- Suffering from the immobilization of one or more major joints
According to 38 CFR 4.30, a medical professional's work excuse can substantiate a claimant's eligibility for a convalescence rating if there is a "clear connection between the claimant's inability to return to previous employment and surgery or cast immobilization," and there is no contrary evidence on record.
How Long Before You Receive Your VA Convalescent Pay?
A convalescent rating takes effect on the date of hospital admission or outpatient therapy and might last 1-3 months "from the first day of the month after such hospital discharge or outpatient treatment."
This period of time is dependent on the veteran's health. One- to three-month extensions are available, depending on the veteran's progress. Following the initial six-month period, the Veterans Service Center Manager may grant additional extensions of one to six months at his or her discretion.
Can You Expedite Your VA Convalescent Pay?
There are several options for you to expedite the decision-making and payment processes. You can use Fast Track to file claims for veteran's disability compensation in the following categories:
- Direct service connection for the following:
- disability caused by service,
- or pre-existing illness or injury aggravated by service
- Secondary service connection
- Requests for an increased rating
- Temporary total disability rating
- Rating of individual unemployability
- Disability compensation for an injury caused by VA (Section 1151 claims)
- Special monthly compensation
New application forms are now available for the Fully Developed Claims (FDC) program. You may find all of these forms on the VA Forms website.
Utilize VA Form 21-526EZ, Fully Developed Claim, for disability compensation applications. This program is a condensed and reduced version.
If you are claiming only one or two disabilities, you are not even required to provide complete documentation (medical and service records) to qualify for expedited processing. However, providing evidence upfront will speed up the process.
To qualify for Fast Track processing, if you are claiming benefits for two or more impairments, you must collect and submit all medical and military service records yourself.
Additional Application Forms for the Fast Track
If you are filing a claim for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you must also complete and submit VA Form 21-0781, Statement in Support of Claim for Service-Connected Traumatic Brain Injury.
If you are pursuing a claim for PTSD as a result of personal assault (i.e., military sexual trauma), you must complete and submit VA Form 21-0781a, Statement in Support of Claim for Service Connection for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Secondary to Personal Assault.
If you are claiming Individual Unemployability, you must also complete VA Form 21-8940, Veteran's Application for Increased Compensation Due to Unemployability, and VA Form 21-4192, Request for Employment Information in Connection with Disability Claim Benefits.
What Is A VA Financial Hardship?
"Financial hardship" means that you, the veteran, are unable to produce enough income to cover basic expenses such as rent or medical expenses related to your disability. Minor difficulties are insufficient; the VA must determine that the financial difficulty is "severe."
If you are receiving collection notices from creditors, are facing eviction or foreclosure, are required to declare bankruptcy, or have your utilities disconnected, these are the types of extreme circumstances that may qualify you for accelerated processing of your disability claim.
While VA convalescent payment begins on the day a veteran is discharged from the hospital, this is subject to different circumstances. You can, however, apply for a Fast Track in order to begin your application process earlier and be paid before you're discharged. This is a good option to have in case you can’t pay your hospital bills.
If you're looking into finding out more about VA claims, check out Disability Help’s article on how to file a VA claim for disability compensation.