When you file to receive disability benefits from the VA, the waiting period for a decision – either a grant or denial of your claim – can vary. There are multiple factors that can affect the amount of time you spend waiting for your disability rating.
You will generally get an initial rating within six months of filing a claim, but the actual length of time for claims has varied widely from 90 days to 2 years. To understand why the process takes so long and is so variable, it helps to understand how the process works.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) grants monthly disability payments to Veterans who suffer from service-related disabilities. These conditions can be physical, internal, or psychological, as long as they significantly impact your life and are directly connected to your military service.
If you are a Veteran who has a disability that’s linked to your service, you can apply to receive a rating from the VA. This disability rating will directly correspond to the amount of benefits you can receive from the VA each month. The VA’s ratings range from 0% to 100%, with a higher rating leading to more significant benefits. The difference in benefits between even the 10% and 20% disability ratings is large and even a small increase in your disability rating can be a game-changer in terms of covering expenses.
You can start an application to receive benefits by using the VA’s eBenefits portal, calling your regional office, mailing in an application, or filling out an application in person at the VA. After you file a claim to receive benefits from the VA, there are a few more steps you may have to take to receive your benefits.
There is a long list of physical and psychological disabilities linked with military service that can make a Veteran eligible to receive disability benefits from the VA. The primary criteria for getting service-connected are the current disability diagnosis and the presence of a specific injury, experience, or exposure during your time in the military that can be linked to it. The VA refers to this link as a nexus, and it is essential for establishing a service connection and qualifying for benefits.
If the VA needs to carefully review your military records, run tests, perform multiple examinations, or take other steps to confirm that you have a service-connected disability, it may take longer to get your disability rating. Sometimes, the VA needs to gather additional evidence or documentation before they can proceed with making a decision regarding your claim. In some cases, the need for additional information can leave you with a deferred claim.
If your claim cannot be either approved or denied by the VA, it means your application to receive benefits has been deferred.
A deferred claim typically means that the VA needs more information in order to make an informed decision regarding your disability status. If the VA is missing evidence or documentation that may influence how they rate your disability status, they may defer your claim and put the decision-making process on hold. The VA will notify you if your claim has been deferred – make sure to check the status of your claim while waiting for a decision to see if the VA needs you to take any actions before they can move forward.
If your claim gets deferred, you will have to wait longer before you receive your disability rating. The VA may need you to submit military medical records, personnel records, information from your personal doctor, or other documentation before your claim can move out of deferral status. If your claim is currently on hold, the VA will let you know what you need to do to get the decision-making process back on track.
Before a Veteran can receive a disability rating, they first need to undergo the VA’s Compensation & Pension (C&P) exam. The C&P exam allows the VA to assess a Veteran’s condition, and the results of the examination can help the VA determine whether a Veteran can qualify for disability benefits. If you have not undergone a C&P exam, your claim may end up deferred until you do.
The C&P exam is administered by a VA-affiliated medical practitioner at your regional VA facility. Make sure to contact the VA and schedule your C&P exam once you have filed a claim for disability benefits. The sooner you go to your exam, the sooner you can move forward in the decision-making process.
The VA tries to promptly get a rating to any disabled Veteran who files a claim, although they typically take several months to process a claim fully and give a Veteran a rating. There are a few factors that can make the processing of your claim take longer. If your claim involves more than one disability, the VA will need to take more time processing your medical records and determining the best rating to give you to ensure that you are not “pyramiding.” If you are only filing a claim pertaining to one service-related disability, you can expect to get your claim sooner.
If you receive a disability rating from the VA, it is not set in stone, and certain factors can cause your rating to go up or down. The VA may decrease your rating by default if they assume that your condition has improved over time.
To prevent the VA from reducing your rating, stick with your treatment plan, take any prescribed medication, and go to routine checkups with your doctor. The VA will want to see that you are still receiving treatment in order to maintain your rating. If you stop going to your appointments, the VA has reason to believe you no longer need them.
You can also take steps to increase your disability rating by filing an appeal or by requesting a reevaluation from the VA. The VA may increase your disability rating if you suffer from a condition with symptoms that tend to worsen over time. Degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease and certain types of cancer often progress as time passes, meaning that you may be receiving fewer benefits than you deserve as your symptoms worsen. If you have had the same disability rating for years, but your condition has gotten worse, seek a reevaluation from the VA.
VA disability claims typically are fully processed within three to four months. Once you get your results back, you will have a rating that indicates how much you will receive per month in benefits. If you think your rating is inaccurate, you can take steps to get your claim reevaluated or appeal to the VA with the help of an attorney.
The VA does not always give a disability rating that is as high as a Veteran deserves. If you feel that you are being short-changed by the VA, our team of attorneys is here to help. We can help you get through the VA appeals process and get your rating reassessed and raised. Even a 10% increase in your rating can lead to a big change in the tax-free benefits that you receive each month.
We’re a team of Veterans devoted to helping our fellow Veterans. If you’re stuck fighting the process of getting the correct rating from the VA, we’re ready and able to team up with you to help you get the outcome that you deserve. Dealing with the VA and suffering from a disability can be extremely tough, and our mission is to make it easier.
If you need help appealing a VA decision, we’re here to provide additional fire support. Contact Berry Law today for a free consultation.
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