After the VA has considered your disability claim, you might expect a thumbs up or a thumbs down decision. That is, your claim will be either approved or denied. But there could be a third possible outcome—a deferred decision and here is where the situation can be a bit more complicated.

A deferred decision means the VA is saying it does not have enough information to either approve or deny your claim. The VA will issue a deferred decision if they determine that your claim is underdeveloped-—not backed up with enough evidence or if your claim is incomplete meaning that there are missing medical records, missing administrative records, or any of a number of other causes. It is also possible that the VA will issue a decision that says “confirmed and continued”. This can occur when you have submitted additional information that the VA determines is not persuasive or is repetitive—information that is not new and relevant. The VA says that “new” evidence is simply that—new evidence submitted to the VA for the first time. It cannot be information that is already in VA records. It cannot be evidence a veteran has previously provided to the VA or evidence the VA has legally acquired on behalf of the veteran.

“Relevant” evidence is a fact or facts that VA did not have enough evidence to verify at the time of their prior decision. A fact that is necessary to substantiate the claim. So, a deferred rating decision means your claim will need more evidence and confirmed and continued rating decision means a claim needs different evidence.

In a situation where you have filed a claim for more than one disabling condition, it is possible that the VA will approve or deny the claim for one condition while deferring the decision on one or more additional conditions. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you are filing for disability benefits for PTSD. As we know, PTSD can lead to other impairments like diabetes. The VA could approve your claim for PTSD while deferring your claim for diabetes.

A deferred decision is, in reality, no decision at all. It is a decision not to decide and it will mean you will have to do more work on your claim and wait even longer for your disability benefits.

It is unfortunate, but VA disability claims can get complicated. That is why getting solid legal advice from an accredited VA attorney is a sensible idea.  If your claim for VA disability has been denied or deferred or if you believe the VA has not properly rated your disability, call us at Cuddigan Law for a free, no-obligation evaluation of your case.

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