8 Steps the VA Will Take When Deciding Whether to Approve Your Disability Benefits

You sent in your application for VA disability benefits weeks ago, and all you have to show for it is an acknowledgment that your application has been received. Are you expected to wait in silence until the decision is made, or should you be checking up on the status of your disability claim?

What to Expect After Submitting Your VA Disability Application

Your application will go through several steps before you are approved (or denied) VA disability benefits, and each step can take weeks or longer to complete. Here are the usual steps that a claim will go through in order to be processed by the VA:

  • Receipt of your claim. The VA will send you a notice when it has received your claim. If you applied online, you should be able to see confirmation of your application in your list of Open Claims within an hour of submission. If you sent a paper application by mail, it may take a week or more for the VA to send notice that it received your claim.
  • Evidence review. After it is received, your claim will be assigned to a Veterans Service Representative (VSR). The representative will look over your claim to see if any further evidence of your condition is required to make a decision. If more information is needed, your VSR will request further evidence; otherwise, your claim will be prepared for decision.
  • Gathering of evidence. If your VSR needs more information to process your claim, he or she will request evidence from you, your doctor, other treating sources, government agencies, or another source of information. Claims may stay in this phase until all evidence has been supplied, and may return to this phase if additional evidence is required later.
  • Evidence review. At this stage, the VA has received enough evidence to make a determination, but has not yet made a recommendation in your case.
  • Preparation for the decision. This means that your VSR has made a decision, but is still preparing a detailed letter outlining the reasons for the decision.
  • Approval of the decision. The VSR must now send the detailed decision back to the VA for review. This must be done whether you have been approved or denied benefits. Your reviewers may request further evidence at this stage to make sure the decision is fully supported.
  • Notification preparation. Your claim decision packet is complete and is being prepared for mailing.
  • Decision mailing. After the VA has sent your decision packet to you by mail, it will consider your case completed. If you disagree with the decision, you may reopen your claim by filing an appeal.

“Is There Anything I Can Do to Reduce My Wait Time?”

There are many things applicants can do to expedite the processing of their claims. Firstly, you should provide the VA with as much evidence as you can with your claim to reduce possible requests (and delays) for additional information. You should also check regularly to make sure your application is moving through the steps of the process. Finally, you can ask a disability attorney to stay in contact with the VA on your behalf to make sure your claim is being processed as quickly as possible. We represent veterans who live in Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Colorado, Missouri, Illinois and South Dakota with their appeals.To find out how we can help, email us at [email protected] or call us at (402) 933-5405 today.

 

Sean D. Cuddigan
SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska