There are eight distinct steps that most claims for VA disability compensation follow.

The first step is filing an initial claim. You can file online through the Veterans Administration’s website or by mailing in your claim form.  If you apply online you should see receipt of your form within one hour.  A mail application typically takes the mailing time plus one week for V-A to process and record your claim.

In step two your claim is assigned to a Veterans Service Representative and is reviewed to determine if additional evidence is needed. If the VA does not need any additional information, your claim will move directly to the Preparation for Decision phase, step five.

For step three the Veterans Service Representative gathers evidence from the required sources. Requests for evidence may be made of you, a medical professional, a government agency, or another authority.

The review of evidence occurs in step four. In this step, if it is determined that more evidence is required, your claim will be sent back to the Gathering of Evidence phase, step three.

Step five is known as the Preparation for Decision phase. In this phase the Veterans Service Representative recommends a decision, and prepares required documents detailing that decision. If more evidence is required, the claim will be sent back for more information or evidence.

Then in step six, the recommended decision is reviewed, and a final award approval or denial is made.  

In the seventh step your entire claim decision packet is prepared for mailing.

Then the VA will send a decision packet to you by U.S. mail.  This is the final step, step eight.

Getting through all these phases can take time. But the length of time can vary widely depending on the complexity of your claim, the amount of evidence that must be gathered to support your claim, and the type of evidence.

According to the VA’s website, about 75 percent of initial claims are denied. If you are denied after your initial application, you have the right to appeal and you have the right to have an attorney represent you in the appeals process. If you are denied on appeal you can appeal a second time.

If you have been unfairly turned down by the VA for benefits for a service-related disability or if you disagree with the percentage rating decision, you have the right to appeal and you have the right to have an attorney represent you. Call us at 402-933-5405  for a free evaluation of your case. We are accredited VA attorneys. At Cuddigan Law you have a dedicated team of professionals in your corner who understand the system and who will fight for your rights.


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