You understand that the VA receives thousands of disability applications, but yours is the one that matters to you. You don’t have months (or years) to wait before the VA issues a decision—especially if that decision is “no.” Is there a way to get faster VA approval for compensation, pension and survivor benefits?

Do I Qualify for the Fully Developed Claim Program?

In certain cases, veterans may qualify for benefits under the Fully Developed Claims (FDC) program. This is program is able to offer faster decisions from the VA at no risk to the applicants. People are eligible to file an FDC application for VA compensation as long as:

  • The claim is a rating related claim for compensation submitted on the proper forms and signed by the veteran.
  • Any relevant private medical record are submitted with the claim. Any federal treatment or military unit records that are relevant are identified..
  • The veteran agrees to attend any medical exams requested.
  • The Veteran signs and submits a Fully Developed Claim Certification.

The FDC program allows expedited processing of claims because it requires veterans (and survivors) to submit all evidence with their claims and certify that there is no further evidence needed. By supplying the VA with all necessary medical and professional evidence, the VA can make its determination without waiting for additional information. This is a way of providing faster service to “open-and-shut” cases of disability or survivor benefits.

What If the VA Decides That My Claim Is Not Fully Developed?

One of the biggest benefits of the FDC program is that it carries little risk for the veteran. If you submit your FDC application and the VA decides that it needs more information (or it has discovered that other records exist), your claim will be sent out of the FDC program and be processed through the traditional VA claims system. No matter which program processes your application, it will be evaluated by the same VA claims representatives, and there will be no monetary difference in the benefits you receive if you are approved.

Although the FDC process offers a faster decision, you must still provide all of the information up front—and gathering the required records can be time-consuming. You have up to one year to complete your FDC application, but you should complete it as quickly as possible to expedite your benefit approval. For more help with your disability claim or to ask us a question, leave us a comment below.

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