After you’ve filled out the claim form, made the phone call or visited your local VA regional office, all you can do is wait for the final verdict on your VA disability claim. Yet
it can be a lengthy wait while your application is being processed and your claim is being reviewed.
Veterans may be wondering just how long they may be waiting. And with so many needed health benefits on hold until they hear back, it’s understandable as to why veterans may want to know where their claim is in the process and how much longer they have to wait.
However, it should be noted that there are many factors that come into play when it comes to the time taken to process a veterans disability claim. Read on to see why a claim may take longer than you expect, and what affects your claim’s wait time.
What is Being Checked For
First off, it’s important to know what’s being reviewed while your claim is being processed. The reason why a claim takes some time to process is because the Department of Veteran Affairs has to review the applicant’s disability or disabilities and determine their financial need. To qualify, veterans must have gotten their injuries during their military service. Or, a pre-existing injury must have been aggravated to the point of creating a disability during active duty.
In addition, if a veteran was disabled as a result of Veterans Affairs-funded healthcare, or during a work therapy program or vocational rehab program, they will also be eligible for veterans disability benefits.
The nature of your disability, how it was created and when are all taken into account while your claim is being processed. As such, verifying all that information can be a lengthy process.
Average Wait Time
It’s worth noting that the average wait time for a veteran disability claim is a little over three months, with about 156 days being the most common wait as of January 2022.
Veterans should also ensure that they don’t need to follow up with their claim in any way. Additional follow-up questions may need to be answered and further paperwork may need to be submitted, so it’s important to stay on top of your claim to see if any supplemental information or papers that may help your application are needed.
In addition, exams may also be required to complete your claim. These exams are crucial in helping those reviewing your claim understand the nature and severity of your disability, as well as see what the extent of your veterans benefits needs to be. If an exam or multiple exams are asked of you, it’s best to get them all done as quickly as possible to avoid any delays in your claim moving further along in the process.
The Time You Submit the Claim Can Factor In
Believe it or not, the month that you submitted your claim can play a role in how long your claim is processed. Busier times, such as around the holidays or during bad weather, can cause your claim to be received later than expected.
It should be noted that this applies only to hard copy veterans disability benefits claims that are mailed via snail mail. Veterans disability claims that are made online are far less likely to be greatly delayed due to weather or any holiday seasons.
What Benefits You Applied for Matters
Another thing that you must consider is that the type of claim you applied for can also affect your wait period.
There are many types of claims that a veteran can submit. If you have yet to submit a claim, it’s crucial to know which one is best for your type of disability and situation. Here are some of the claims you can submit:
● Disability compensation claims
● Disability special needs claims
● Special Monthly Compensation
In addition to these types of claims, there are also claims for veterans that are not necessarily tied to a disability. Other claims that veterans can look at include:
● Veteran Pension Benefits or Survivor Pension Benefit
● DIC or Dependency and Indemnity Compensation
● VA Healthcare Applications
● VR&E or Veteran Readiness and Employment
● COE or Certificate of Eligibility for a home loan
It is possible to have multiple claims pending at once; there is no need to delay your disability claim so that more time-sensitive claims can be processed faster. Each claim will be processed separately, and each can be tracked separately. However, because these claims are separate, that means any supplemental documentation meant to help your claims should also be uploaded to each individual claim. This means that any documents that are relevant to multiple claims need to be uploaded multiple times, to each claim it’s applicable toward. Though this means additional work for you, it will ensure your claims contain all necessary information, thus preventing some potential delays.
Disability claims and their outcomes, of course, vary depending on your individual needs. It is important for you to review your needs as well as the severity of your disability to decide what type of claim is best for you.
In addition, if you have multiple disabilities as a result of your service, the VA will have to take more time to review the information provided on each disability listed. It is important that you include as much information and documentation as possible to help your claim.
VA medical records, hospital records and other valid documentation should all be included in the claim, according to the VA’s site. Documents, such as non-VA medical records, that help show that your life is being adversely affected should also be added to the claim. This can be anything from additional medical records to written statements from people around you, such as friends and family, who can provide eyewitness testimony to your condition worsening over time.
The complexity of your disability or disabilities also plays a huge role in how long the claim is processed for. The VA must determine the extent of the care you need, as well as the intensity of the care needed. On top of that, the claim may also include financial compensation or assistance to help keep you afloat. These allowances may include payments to help cover car modifications or modified clothes.
You Can Track Your Claim’s Status
Once a claim has been submitted, there are several ways you can track its status. The best way to do this is by going online to the VA government website at https://www.va.gov/claim-or-appeal-status/. This website allows veterans to create an account, begin their claim, submit it, and check the status.
An easy way to reach this site quickly is by bookmarking it or by making a shortcut on your desktop. That way, you can jump straight to the website, log in, and see your claim’s status. Having your web browser remember or login information, or having it saved onto a Word document can also make it easier to check on your claim.
Though a lengthy process, it’s important to get your claim in as soon as possible so that you can begin receiving veterans benefits. It will be a months-long wait, and there may be additional actions needed from you. However there are ways to keep tabs on your claim, and see how much longer you have left to wait.