The VA disability benefits claim process can seem obtuse and difficult to understand, even for Veterans who have engaged with it more than once. Unfortunately, your VA benefits claim can be stuck in one part of the process, or you may need to learn what each phase means or how it pertains to your claim.
Today, let’s look at one specific phase in a disability claims process: the preparation for notification phase. We’ll explore what it means, what it entails, and how long it takes.
Whatever you file a disability benefits claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs, that claim goes through a step-by-step, comprehensive process.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of the major steps of the benefits claim process:
In this phase, the VA receives your disability claim and informs you of this fact. If you mail your claim physically, the VA should send you a letter within seven to 14 business days.
Note that business days are any regular weekdays excluding federal holidays. If you file online, the VA will send you a message immediately after submitting your claim.
A Veteran’s Service Representative (VSR) will review your claim. They will likely request or seek out more information to substantiate your claim. This phase usually takes seven to 21 business days or one to three business weeks.
The VA will either ask for more evidence from you, government agencies, healthcare providers, and other organizations. It may also schedule a Compensation and Pension (C&P) Exam.
If your claim has enough evidence, it may be moved automatically to a Ratings Veteran Service Representative (RVSR). This phase takes between 30 and 60 business days.
Now, the VA should have all the information it needs to decide your claim, and the VSR will send your claim to the next step.
If the VSR does not believe it has enough evidence or needs more information, it may return your claim to Phase 3. This phase typically takes between seven and 14 business days.
Your VA disability claim is sent to the RVSR, who reviews your application and any substantiating evidence. The RSVR then starts preparing the necessary documents to detail their claim decision. This phase takes between seven and 14 business days.
Here, the recommendations from the RVSR are reviewed, and the VA makes a final award decision for your claim. This usually takes between seven and 21 business days.
In this phase, the VA’s Senior Veterans Service Representative (SVSR) reviews your completed documents and authorizes the release of any payment or award letter if applicable to your claim.
The VA disability ratings decision packet is mailed to you. The phase takes seven to 21 business days.
In the final step of the claims process, your claim is closed, and the VA mails your disability decision claim packet. You should receive the packet within 14 business days.
Let’s take a closer look at the preparation for the notification phase.
This phase involves the SVSR reviewing all the completed documentation of your disability benefits claim and the decision made by the RVSR.
At this stage, the VA has largely already decided your benefits claim’s outcome. However, the SVSR can make a decision contrary to that of the RVSR if they so choose.
For example, if the RVSR rates your disability at a lower rating than what the SVSR deems appropriate, the SVSR can change that rating and bump up your benefits overall.
Think of this step as one final review of all the documentation and decisions made about your benefits claim before sending the decision to you. It’s common for the SVSR to start compiling the ratings decision packet for you at this point, although the VA will not mail it to you until Phase 8.
Furthermore, this phase may go faster if you provide the VA with comprehensive, accurate information.
Generally, the Preparation for Notification phase takes seven to 21 business days. It’s a review-intensive phase, don’t be surprised if it takes up to a month for the VA to complete. There’s little you can do to accelerate this process.
Sometimes, the VA may alert you online or request that you view your claim results on the VA website. However, most Veterans have to wait for their packets.
Check your claim status on the VA website. At this stage, you must wait for the VA to put your packet together and tell you what they decided.
Unfortunately, you can’t know what exact benefits claim decision the VA made until they mail your packet to you. This can be frustrating, but there’s little chance your claim will be stuck at this stage. Your claim decision is coming!
However, it’s common for VA disability benefits claims to be stuck before the preparation for notification phase. If you continually check the status of your VA benefits claim, only to find that it never reaches preparation for notification, it could be a sign that:
If your claim is stuck before the preparation for notification phase, you can contact knowledgeable attorneys to get their advice. Your attorneys may be able to contact the VA for you or to request further information about why your claim is stuck or hasn’t made any noticeable progress in the past few weeks.
Remember that this phase can take up to 21 days or even longer. If it has only been a few weeks since your benefits claim reached the preparation for notification phase, be patient. If you continue to contact the VA about your benefits claim, you won’t receive any new information, and you may slow down the organization.
Consider working with Veterans law attorneys to prepare even more information if the VA requests further information to substantiate your claim. If you have this information ready to go, it should be simple to provide it to the VA or have information ready for the case of a future appeal.
The preparation for notification phase is the penultimate or second to last phase of the disability claims process. It involves the VA preparing to give you their decision or notify you about your disability benefits if you qualify. At this stage, your claim is essentially decided, and you’ll just have to wait for your claim to be complete before you can accept your benefits or appeal the decision.
Whether you want to appeal the decision, knowledgeable Veterans law attorneys like Berry Law can be invaluable. Our lawyers can also help if your claim is stuck at this step of the process. Contact us today to learn more.
Veterans Benefits Administration | USAGov
How To File A VA Disability Claim | Veterans Affairs
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