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Is Preparation for Decision a Good Sign for Your Claim?

Is Preparation for Decision a Good Sign for Your Claim?

In the VA disability claims process, Veterans often have to proceed through or wait for several key steps before they receive an ultimate answer. One of the most important stages in this process is “preparation for decision.”

When Veterans check the status of their claims and see this stage, they often wonder if preparation for decision is a good sign. Today, let’s look at the answer to this question and more.

What Is Preparation for Decision?

“Preparation for decision” is one of the most important steps in the disability claims process. It means that your VA disability benefits claim has progressed and has neared the final stages.

If your claim makes it to preparation for decision, the VA has already reviewed the evidence you submitted with your disability benefits claim. This is important because the VA has not found a problem with your evidence and is now determining what kind of disability rating you should receive (or whether you will receive one at all).

The preparation for decision phase typically takes between 30 and 60 business days. Remember that business days only count standard weekdays that aren’t federal holidays. Because of this, the preparation for decision phase can take several months to complete, particularly if the VA already has a case backlog.

That said, preparation for decision is an exciting stage. If you check the VA’s website and discover your claim is at this step, there’s cause to celebrate. You may be getting closer and closer to the disability benefits you deserve.

The Complete VA Decision Process: Step-by-Step

It’s easiest to understand preparation for decision if you understand the entire disability claims process. The other steps in the disability claims process are as follows:

  • Claim receipt. The VA receives your claim immediately when you file it online or typically within 14 business days if you file it by mail
  • Initial review. At this stage, the VA reviews the basics of your claim and makes sure that the baseline details, like the medical license of your optional nexus letter provider, are legitimate. It often takes between seven and 21 business days
  • Gathering of evidence. This stage can take between 30 and 60 business days and involves the VA collecting extra evidence that you refer it to so you can substantiate your disability claim
  • Review of evidence. Here, the VA reviews the evidence collected so far. It typically takes between seven and 14 business days
  • Preparation for decision, as mentioned above
  • Pending decision approval. This process often takes between seven and 21 business days. At this stage, your claim is essentially in limbo until the VA’s rating office reviews the file and makes a final decision
  • Preparation for notification. At this stage, your claim has been decided upon and all that’s left is to notify you officially. It often takes between seven and 21 business days
  • Claim is completed. You’ll likely receive the mailed notification of your decision within 14 business days

As you can see from the above breakdown, preparation for decision is a little past the midpoint of the VA claims process

Is Preparation for Decision a Good Sign?

Preparation for decision is typically a good sign for any disability benefits application. You may expect a VA rating decision within 30 business days if your claim reaches this step. Even if you don’t hear about the decision within that timeframe, your claim will generally be settled at that point.

For many Veterans, this is a great sign. It means they only have a limited amount of time to wait and the chances of case backlog delaying their claim are lower (since backlog usually affects cases that have not reached the preparation for decision phase yet).

Can Your Claim Get Stuck During Preparation for Decision?

Many Veterans have heard horror stories of their disability benefits claims being stuck in the VA case backlog for months without any change in their phase or step.

This is unlikely to occur during preparation for decision, although it still can happen occasionally. Ultimately, there’s no way to fix this issue if your claim is stuck during preparation for decision. It’s likely just a matter of the VA having too many cases to review simultaneously.

What Do You Need To Do After Preparation for Decision?

If your VA disability benefits claim has reached the preparation for decision stage, you don’t need to do anything. One of the reasons this is such a beneficial and hopeful stage for Veterans is that they probably will not need to provide the VA with additional documents or evidence substantiating their claims.

The VA has already taken all the necessary evidence to make a decision regarding your benefits application. Therefore, all you need to do is sit back and wait for the VA to make a decision.

What Do You Need To Do to Get Your Claim to Preparation for Decision?

However, the same is not true for any time before the preparation for decision stage.

As noted above, there are several steps where the VA reviews the evidence and determines whether your claim should proceed. At any stage between receiving your claim and preparation for decision, the VA could send you a communication requesting:

  • Additional documentation of your disability’s symptoms or medical conditions
  • Additional evidence proving that you acquired your disability during your time in the military or as a result of military service
  • Additional medical evidence and documentation from licensed medical practitioners

If you receive a communication from the VA requesting any of this, you’ll have to solve the problem quickly. Your Veterans law attorneys can help you gather the evidence and respond to the VA ASAP, but there’s no denying that this inevitably denies your ultimate claim decision.

Therefore, before the preparation for decision phase, you should be ready and able to respond to any VA requests for additional info. Again, if you have Veterans law attorneys working with you, they can have extra evidence ready to go if needed. Ideally, you’ll provide the VA with all the evidence it needs to make a sound decision the first time you submit your benefits paperwork.

How Can Veterans Law Attorneys Help?

Veterans law attorneys can help you before, during, and after the preparation for decision step.

Before the preparation for decision stage, your Veterans law attorneys can:

  • Assist in gathering the necessary evidence to substantiate your claim
  • Help you file the right paperwork and ensure that you file your benefits application to the right place

When the preparation for decision stage is reached, your Veterans law attorneys can sometimes speak to the VA to better understand how long you’ll have to wait for an ultimate decision. After the preparation for decision step, you’ll learn whether your benefits claim has been approved or denied.

If your claim is denied, you can work with your Veterans law attorneys to appeal the initial decision. The VA has an in-depth, lengthy appeals process that enables you to provide additional documentation or argue your case before a separate review board. In other words, the VA’s initial decision is not final regarding your benefits application.

However, your best bet to get a good decision from the appeals process may be to work with attorneys. Your attorneys should know what to say, how to state your claim and its additional evidence, and much more. More importantly, knowledgeable attorneys should examine the VA’s response that accompanies the denial decision to address issues or concerns directly.

Bottom line: Don’t go through the appeals process alone. Hire Veterans law attorneys to maximize your chances of seeing a successful outcome. 

Contact Berry Law

If your claim has reached the preparation for decision stage, it’s a great sign. It means that your claim has passed the evidence review and should soon be decided upon by the VA. Within a few weeks to a few months, you’ll have your ultimate decision and can either start receiving disability benefits or file an appeal with knowledgeable Veterans law attorneys.

Berry Law can help you through the disability benefits appeal process and explain each stage so you know what to look for and how long things might take. Don’t wait – contact us today to take advantage of our invaluable assistance.

Sources:

VA Claims Process | CalVet

The VA Claim Process After You File Your Claim | Veterans Affairs

VA Disability Compensation | Veterans Affairs

Claims Backlog | Veterans Benefits Administration Reports

VA Decision Reviews And Appeals | Veterans Affairs

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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