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How Long Does a VA Disability Claim Take?

How Long Does a VA Disability Claim Take?

When filing a VA disability claim, one of the most common questions veterans have is: How long does a VA disability claim take? The journey of filing a VA disability claim can be complex and time-consuming, often leaving veterans eager to know the status of their claim. 

In this article, we will explore the average time it takes for a VA disability claim to be processed and delve into understanding the VA claim status. By gaining insights into the VA claims processing time and claim status, veterans can better manage their expectations and navigate the claims process more effectively.

History of VA Disability Claims

The United States has one of the most extensive military veterans benefits systems of any nation in the world, dating as far back as 1663. This country has always believed that defenders of a colony, or nation, should be supported if disabled in the line of duty. 

The support offered has expanded over the centuries to include pensions, hospital care, support for dependents and spouses, and more. As the level of support grew, so did the complexity of administering these benefits. The VA was established in 1930 as a way to improve the efficiency of the system. Something they are still working on today.

A VA disability claim is a request for disability benefits filed by a veteran seeking compensation for one or more service-connected disabilities. In the early years, VA disability claims covered combat injuries. However, research on the long-term health impacts of military service has come a long way. Now, in addition to physical injuries, the VA offers disability compensation for conditions such as PTSD, migraines, depression, and others not related to combat. 

How is a Claim Evaluated? 

The modern claims process involves providing medical evidence and supporting documents to establish the link between the veteran’s disability and their military service. This link is called a service connection. 

Supporting documents include service treatment records, x-rays, test results, and buddy statements. Gathering this evidence can be the most challenging part of filing a claim, and there are organizations dedicated to helping veterans. Guidance on what supporting documents are needed to build a stronger claim and even help filling out an initial claim will help keep the processing time as short as possible.

Upon submitting a disability claim, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) assigns a claim number and begins the evaluation process. The VA determines the severity of the claimed disability and its impact on the veteran’s ability to work or perform daily activities. The VA then gives a rating to the claim and uses a disability pay chart to determine the amount of compensation to award the veteran.

VA Claim Status and Average Processing Time

Waiting for a decision can be agonizing, especially for veterans facing financial hardship. To check the status of a VA disability claim, veterans can utilize the VA’s online tool, the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS). By logging into VBMS, veterans can track the progress of their claims and receive updates on any actions taken by the VA.

However, the time it takes to process a VA disability claim can vary significantly. Several factors influence the processing time, including the complexity of the claim, the availability of relevant medical evidence, the number of claims in the system, and staffing levels at the VA regional office handling the claim.

On average, the VA aims to process disability claims within 103 days. However, it is not uncommon for claims to take longer. In some cases, claims can take several months to a year or more to be finalized. It is important to note that claims requiring additional evidence or that need a detailed review may take longer than those with straightforward documentation.

VA Disability Claim Appeals

If a veteran disagrees with the decision made on their disability claim, they can file an appeal. The appeals process involves submitting a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) within one year of the initial decision. The veteran can choose from three decision review options: 

  1. Supplemental Claim – the veteran has new evidence that was not considered before.
  2. Higher-Level Review – veteran believes there is an error in their case and does not have new evidence.
  3. Board Appeal – used when the veteran wants a Veterans Law Judge to review the case at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA)

Similar to initial claims, the processing time for appeals can vary. Often, appeals take over a year to be resolved. However, the VA has implemented initiatives to streamline the appeals process and reduce the waiting time.

Final Thoughts

Filing a VA disability claim can be lengthy, and the exact time can vary based on several factors. It is frustrating that the VA claims process can take several months or more, but veterans can stay up to date on the status of a claim by utilizing tools like VBMS to track the claim status and progress.

While the waiting time can be frustrating, it is important to remember that any missed appointments or documentation can cause further delays. Additionally, seeking assistance from veterans’ service organizations or working with accredited claims agents or attorneys can provide valuable guidance and support during the claims process.

Don’t Risk Another Denial

If you have been denied benefits and are unsure how to proceed, an attorney can be a powerful partner and advocate. For a free consultation with an experienced veterans disability lawyer, contact the Cameron Firm, PC at (800) 861-7262 or fill out the contact box on our website. We are here to represent veterans nationwide.

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