Generally, the VA appeals process takes 18-24 months, but this depends on several factors, such as the complexity of your claim and the regional office you are working with. The regional offices don’t work on the same timelines and while some will work quickly, others are much slower. At Berry Law Firm we have had some appeals decided in less than a year, but we’ve had others that took over 3 years.
As of September 2016, more than 450,000 appeals are pending, and veterans are waiting an average of three years to hear a decision.
If the process were to remain unchanged, the number of pending claims would jump to 2.17 million by 2027, the VA estimates.
Even if the appeal takes 18-24 months, if the case is not decided the correct way in accordance with the law, then the veteran will have to file another appeal to reach the correct outcome. The bad news is that this new appeal is going to take additional time.
Sometimes, when our clients want the case resolved immediately, we have to convince them otherwise. You want it resolved right the first time so your claim doesn’t spend as much time in the VA appeals process.
If we stick with the time frame of 18-24 months, we have a point of reference but not a solid standard. However, setting an estimate gives veterans an idea of how long they will have to wait for the VA to decide the appeal and can plan accordingly. Because the VA is a government agency it is also important to stay up to date with any important changes in the law. As recently as September of 2016, the House of Representatives passed a new bill that included an amendment to streamline the disability benefits appeals process.
So when we talk about how long does an appeal take, 18-24 months is a great starting point. But how many times is the veteran going to have to appeal? Most of the time the veteran’s frustration is not that one appeal took a long time, but that he or she had to go through the appeals process several times to get the disability benefits he or she has earned.
Taking the time to set up your appeal for success is one of the best ways to ensure that the VA will have the information it needs to decide the case in your favor on the first appeal. There is a lot of paperwork that can easily be mixed up, ignored, or lost by the VA, which further slows down the appeals process. Some veterans get overwhelmed and frustrated when the VA issues a rating decision which does not even mention all of the evidence they previously gathered and submitted. However, the appeal provides the veteran the opportunity to clarify his or her argument and provide the VA with the information it needs to grant the veteran the benefits he or she is seeking on appeal..
While there are aspects of the new VA appeals process that a veteran does not have control over, taking the time to do a complete and accurate application (known as a Notice of Disagreement) can help save time. If you are considering submitting an appeal and do not know where to start, consider the step-by-step process offered by military.com or the pamphlet on the VA website to help ensure that you are submitting your appeal as thoroughly as possible.
Are you receiving the veterans’ disability compensation you are entitled to receive by law? If you need assistance appealing VA Rating Decisions for mental health conditions or physical disabilities that occurred in service, please contact Berry Law Firm.
Click here to schedule a time to talk to a member of our team to determine if we can help you with your VA appeal.
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