Why Does It Take So Long to Settle a VA Disability Claim?

Two of the most frequently asked questions we get are “How can I get my claims processed faster?” and “Why is the VA taking so long to make a decision?”

It’s important to understand that the VA processes new and appealed claims on different time frames. If you are submitting new claims, you can usually expect a decision in three to six months. You can improve the likelihood of receiving a favorable decision by including all necessary information in your claim, like evidence of an in-service event or injury, evidence of a current disability, and a nexus, or link, that ties the two together. Once you receive a rating decision on a claim, you have a year to appeal any part of the decision that is unfavorable.

Once you’ve appealed that initial decision, however, the wait time for receiving a response varies depending on your regional office. Regional offices that serve fewer veterans will be less burdened, and you may receive a response in a few months or a year. Regional offices that serve many veterans have more appeals in the pipeline and will take longer to respond. For some regional offices, a delay lasting longer than a year is not uncommon. Keep in mind that when the VA gives an average time frame, that average includes both simple and complex cases. There’s no way to accurately predict how long you will have to wait for a rating decision.

Expediting VA Disability Claims

Under certain circumstances, a veteran may request that his or her claims be expedited, which can speed up the process. Terminal illness, severe financial hardship (such as homelessness), and advanced age (age 75 or older for the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and 77 or over for regional offices) will result in your claim being decided faster. Again, it’s important to note that “faster” does not mean within a few days or weeks; it just means that you’re in the expedited claims line.

Other claimants that require priority processing include:

  • Those diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease;
  • Those participating in the Fully Developed Claim (FDC) Program;
  • Former Prisoners of War and survivors of former Prisoners of War; and
  • Recipients of the Medal of Honor.

Unfortunately, hiring an attorney will not necessarily speed up the process, but they can provide invaluable help navigating the system, and may get you a good decision earlier in the appeals cycle. Plus, they take care of most of the work on your behalf.

Rather than worrying about forcing your claim through the system as fast as you can, understand that every claim takes a long time to be reviewed. And even if you think yours is well-detailed, fact-based, and airtight, don’t be surprised when your rating decision reads as if the VA never even read through what you submitted. The disability claims process is never easy, and almost never runs as smoothly as expected.

Our experienced team of veterans’ law attorneys has helped recover millions of dollars in disability benefits. If you would like assistance with your VA disability claims, call 1-888-883-2483 or contact us online for a free consultation.