Your claim for compensation must go through multiple steps at the Veterans Administration (VA). Many applications get bounced back to previous stages more than once. There is a backlog of claims at the VA, so you are probably wondering, how long does it take for the VA to process a claim?
Several factors will affect how long your VA compensation claim takes. Understanding these factors can, sometimes, provide you with strategies that can speed up the processing of your claim. Unfortunately, you do nothing about some things that slow down your claim processing time.
Time Factors That Are Within Your Control
Your claim goes through eight separate stages at the VA. However, if the VA thinks it does not have all the information it must decide about your compensation claim, it will keep kicking it back to you or others, until it gets all the documentation it wants. Send the VA everything you can think of that supports your claim, to reduce the Veterans Service Representative (VSR) coming back to you repeatedly for more information.
Each time the VSR requests more information, your claim goes back to the third stage of the process, which can add months to your timeline. Rather than sending the VA the minimum amount of evidence to prove your eligibility for compensation, approach the project as one in which you will send so much documentation, that it will not want to read it all. Try to include all of your evidence with your original claim to avoid the endless loops back to the third stage.
You can shave a little time off of your claim process, if you submit your claim online, rather than by U.S. mail. Processing paper claims can take up to a week longer than digital claims (online). An added advantage of sending in your application online, is that you can track its progress an hour after submission, compared to mailing time plus a week for a mailed paper claim.
Time Factors That You Cannot Control
The VA has over 340,000 pending claims as of June 9, 2018. While this is a massive number, it is better than the nearly 1,000,000 claims waiting for decisions back in 2012. Of the over 340,000 pending applications, over 70,000 have been waiting over three months for a rating decision.
How to Fast-Track Your VA Disability Claim
The VA offers a Fully Developed Claim (FDC) process to speed up handling compensation claims. You send in all your evidence up front, either through the mail or online. The VA says that using the Fully Developed Claim process can get you a decision in an average of 97.5 days, as opposed to 101.4 days for an application that uses the standard method.
To get information on how your state’s laws may vary from the general law, talk to an elder law attorney in your area. Every state has different regulations, and this article covers the general law.
Department of Veterans Affairs. “Veterans Benefits Administration Reports: Detailed Claims Data.” (accessed June 14, 2018) https://www.benefits.va.gov/REPORTS/detailed_claims_data.asp
Department of Veterans Affairs. “Compensation: Claims Process.” (accessed June 14, 2018) https://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/process.asp
Department of Veterans Affairs. “Fully Developed Claims.” (accessed June 14, 2018) https://www.benefits.va.gov/reports/mmwr_va_claims_online.asp