Paralyzed veteran in a wheelchair.

Stages of a VA Disability Claim

Applying for VA disability benefits should be simple for all veterans. However, the VA disability claim process can be difficult or overwhelming for some individuals. Understanding the states of a VA disability claim can be helpful. Also, seeking advice and guidance from experienced Michigan VA disability attorneys can be beneficial for many veterans. Veterans disability laws and procedures are not only complex, but they are ever-changing which can impact what appeal avenues look like and the time it takes to process an appeal, or make a decision. 

How Long Does It Take to Process a VA Disability Claim?

According to the Veterans Administration, the average number of days to complete a VA disability claim is 79.9 days. However, your disability claim may take less time or more time to complete. 

Factors that impact the time it takes to complete your VA disability claim include:

  • The type of VA disability claim filed;
  • The number of disabilities or injuries involved in your disability claim;
  • The complexity of your injuries or disabilities; and,
  • The time it takes to gather the necessary evidence to process and decide a claim.

There is nothing for you to do after you file your VA disability claim except wait. However, if you receive a letter or request from the VA regarding evidence or information, responding to the request immediately can help expedite processing your claim and lead to a more favorable decision. Failing to respond to requests for information and documents could result in a delay in the processing time for your claim, as well as a more negative or unfavorable decision. You will also want to be sure that you have submitted all evidence, including statements to support your claim(s), medical records and/or any private medical opinions to help prove your case. 

What Happens After You File a VA Disability Claim?

VA disability claims may be filed online, by mail, or in person. Filing your claim online can reduce the time it takes to schedule an appointment with the VA or mail your application to the VA. Once the VA receives your disability claim, the claim proceeds through the standard process to evaluate the claim.

An initial review of your claim is made by a VSR (Veterans service representative). The VSR may contact you if the application is not complete or accurate. If your application is in order, the VSR begins gathering additional evidence from a variety of sources, including your health care providers and governmental agencies. You may be contacted to provide additional information or evidence of your disability or injuries.

After gathering all relevant information and evidence, the VSR reviews the evidence and decides whether your claim is granted or denied. The VSR prepares a claim decision package that contains details of the disability decision. 

What Can I Do If My VA Disability Claim is Denied or I Don’t Agree with the Decision?

If your VA disability claim is denied or you don’t agree with the decision, you have a right to appeal the decision, but you must do so within your appeal timeframe or before the deadline. For claims decided on or after February 19, 2019, veterans have three choices for review options:

  • File a Supplemental Claim with new and relevant evidence;
  • Request a Higher-Level Review by a senior reviewer; or,
  • Request a Board Appeal with a Veterans Law Judge.

Depending on what evidence was submitted and considered in rendering the decision you received, you may decide to file a Supplemental Claim appeal with additional evidence to strengthen your claim (such as a nexus letter from your doctor, correlating your claimed condition(s) to your time in service using the standard “at least as likely as not” language required). Alternatively, it may be advisable to file a Higher-Level Review appeal, such as the case for an error applying the law or reviewing your evidence prior to the decision being issued. Because there are deadlines for filing appeals and requests to review, it is important to take quick action once you receive the VA disability claim decision. Also, because each review choice is slightly different, you should consult an experienced disability attorney to discuss which option is best given the facts and circumstances of your claim. 

Contact Our Michigan Disability Attorneys for Help

Our Michigan disability attorneys assist veterans throughout the United States in obtaining the VA at various levels of the disability claims process. We also help veterans who need to appeal decisions and fight for the benefits they deserve after an injury or disability. Contact us today for your free consultation. Our attorneys are certified to handle veterans disability cases. Disability is all we do! Our team is not only skilled and knowledgeable, but passionate. We will fight to ensure you receive every benefit you deserve just as you fought to protect our freedoms today.

See how the VA is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.