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Waiting for Veteran Disability Benefits – How long does it take?

By   /  January 14, 2013  /  27 Comments

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It has become a well-known fact that the DVA can take a long time to process claims for Veteran Disability Benefits. Nationwide, it took the VA on average more than eight months to process a claim in June, 2012 – this is 50% longer than it took in 2011.

A report from the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) found that the average wait time to evaluate a claim was 277 days. The CIR found that vets in New York and North Texas waited the longest, at an average of more than one year.

Increased media and political attention

Increased media and political scrutiny have prompted calls for improvement. Last summer, the VA promised to work on improving its processing; the CIR reports that by Fall 2012, “slow but measurable progress” could be seen in reducing the backlog.

The longest backlogs typically occur in densely populated metropolitan areas like New York, and Oakland, California. The reason given by the VA for delays in processing is that they don’t have enough personnel to handle all of the claims in a timely manner. There has been an increase in the number of claims from Afghanistan and Iraq vets, on top of vets from the Vietnam War who are filing new claims.

Even with modest improvements, chronic delays remain a problem. The DVA’s own Inspector General has found that the agency needs to hire more staff. The U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report in November 2012 finding that lengthy delays in processing claims for Veteran Disability Benefits continue.

Gathering medical records can cause delays

Some delays can be caused by problems the DVA has in sharing medical records with the DOD and medical providers. The DVA is also trying to streamline the use of electronic records sharing between the parties involved in establishing a veteran’s claim. In these cases, vets can help obtain any records themselves, or to be sure to start the process right away. It might be faster for you to just obtain certified paper records yourself, if that’s possible for what you need.

What can you do?

While some of the delay problem may be out of your control, you can still do everything you possibly can to speed up the process from your end. When you apply, secure all of the required evidence in the desired format. Check and double-check that any records you request are sent and received where they need to be. Continually follow-up with your doctor’s office and the VA, and your agent, if you have one, to make sure everything is moving along with your application.

The DVA has created a Fully Developed Claim program that can allow you to speed up the time it takes to process your claim for veterans disability benefits. The program helps guide you on how to provide all of the relevant information in precisely the correct form that the DVA needs to process it. You do your part by getting hold of the necessary records yourself and sending them to the VA. This can expedite the evaluation of your claim. If you file a Standard Claim, the VA is responsible for getting relevant documents and this can cause delays.

The VA encourages veterans to take advantage of assistance in filing their claims. See “Veterans Disability Benefits-How do I apply?“ for additional information.

It is very important that you do everything you can to file a complete application. If there is an error or missing information that leads to an initial denial, appeals can take even longer. Some vets who appeal a denied claim can wait three years or more for a resolution.

The best you can do in the face of inevitable delays is to stay on top of your claim at all times, and get qualified assistance.

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  1. Jack says:

    Took 1 year to be compensated the money for excess medical costs for my 84 year old father. Then in Demember when he should have received a 1.5 raise, cut his monthly check $62 if you include the raise he would not receive. Refiled for increase due to being housebound and needing 7 days a week care. Filed in Jan 2014 and don’t expect a word until December. This is crazy! They say the VA just waits and hope they die before having to shell out benefits. Really? Welfare to anyone but jump through 50 hoops for the VA for which my father served during the war. Very sad…..

    • Vicki says:

      It is a tragedy in itself that the vets are waiting up to a year for compensation. We have been waiting – as of today 287 days! Shame on you Washington! We were also told in 1976 that we would get free medical care for life. Well guess what? Wrong!

    • Jim Harris says:

      I applied 13 months ago. Just had my medical exam a couple of weeks ago. I’m expecting 3-4 months more before my claim is finished. Something close to 18 months total. And, it’s only a guess as to what per cent I will get. A friend of mine who lives in another state had his claim totally processed in 10 months. Just the roll of the dice I guess on how long and the amount……..there is no justice in the VA.

  2. Robert Lewis says:

    I also was told that when I got in 1976 that I would receive medical for the rest of my life.. Nothing was explained as far as benifets I would receive. It’s a ashame that Veterans are treated that way. Most of the people processing the paper work for your claim aren’t even veterans maybe that’s why it takes 18 mons to process.

  3. William Henry says:

    I filed in 2010 to get rated. More than 1,460 days ago.

  4. thomas keim says:

    been waiting over 2 years to just add my daughter to my va benefits ,welfare for illegals is only a few weeks .I don’t recommend any one to join the military just let the politicians fight their own wars

  5. Robert Carl says:

    I had an increase in my VA disability in 2011. it came almost a year after my surgery on my back and my request for an increase. I contested the rating that they gave me due to the fact I could mot obtain gainful employment since. In December of last year I entered my 4th year of waiting to be told that it would be determined by this December. Now I am entering my 5th year of waiting. Does my family get anything from the dispute if I die? The US Government seems to have higher priorities than the disabled vets. Bet you if I came across the border illegally I would have had a faster response.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Robert,

      A surviving spouse can step into the shoes of a Veteran who died while a VA claim is pending. If benefits are awarded, the VA will make payment to the spouse.

      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  6. Raymond Anderson says:

    I filed a claim Aug 13, 2013 and received info from the VA on May 19,2014 requesting info from me about my exposure to Agent Orange. The claim info the VA had about my claim was incorrect. The VSO helping me had to send them the correct info about my claim. I’ve called every month to check the status, but can’t get a status. They are saying they have all the info needed, but haven’t processed my claim yet. How long does it take to receive a decision and why can’t they tell me the status?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Raymond,

      Your case will have to wait its turn among all the other requests pending in the VA Regional Office. Contacting your U. S. Congressman’s staff is one avenue to possibly get some attention of your case status. But, since you have already taken appropriate action, the staff of your representative is probably unable to provide any meaningful assistance. It is unlikely that your claim review will be expedited because there are well over one million VA cases pending. It can take years to bring a VA case to a decision point.

      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  7. floyd glover says:

    I have filed been denied several timed. I’ve served in three war theaters. I keep getting letters saying: Sorry for the delay, we are still processing your claim. 12 years, I have spoken to congressman so much, and contacted Washington. Here it is 2015 still nothing. Its not fair and its frustrating age. I gave all I had. Help m

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Floyd,

      You can discuss your claim with an accredited VA attorney by calling Disability Advisor at 1-888-393-1010. No obligation and no fees for consultation.


  8. Jose A Valentin Lebron says:

    I want a Know if i may verify my Claim status, by Internet Thank for your support.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jose,

      I don’t believe there is a way to check on your claim online, but you can call the VA and find out for sure.

      Craig L. Ames
      VA Accredited Attorney

    • Ryan says:

      Go to ebenefits.va.gov. Start an account. It gives you a BROAD view of where your claim is.

    • chad says:

      You can verify your claim status 24/7 365 , by logging on to ebenefits .VA.gov, if you haven’t signed up for a account it’s pretty easy takes 10 minutes ,then once you get your account .just look under claims status .it will show you your phases and where your claim is and what is need from,you and others..

  9. alfred says:

    I have a friend getting disability even though he is not disabled served in no war and has a job he was approved in 12 months by va. I served in iraq have ptsd and an ear disease From iraq and the va could care less

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Alfred,

      It is not possible to know all the details of another veteran’s conditions or circumstances, so you cannot know the reasons why he was approved. However, if you have evidence that your friend falsified his application, you can report suspected fraud.


  10. Chris koestner says:

    I am about to get plates in my neck due to service connected injury during OIF 2005, my surgery is two weeks away and i am stressing to figure out how as a single parent and living paycheck to paycheck ( weekly) and no savings , how long does it take to recieve comp for my 1 to 3 months missed work , is it also a long lasting claim or are these temporary claims same as the ones i am reading about? Any info appreciated thanks , chris

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Chris,

      VA Compensation is a long term claim process. Most claims take years to bring to a resolution. Do not think in terms of short-term periods of disability. This is not compatible with the nature of disability compensation as the VA defines eligibility for this benefit.

      Craig L. Ames

    • Mskwalker74 says:

      Mr. Koestner,

      Do you have a service organization representing you? If not, you may want to get a representative from the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) or someone else to represent you. Then you need to apply for a 100% temporary disability rating if you’re having surgery for a condition that you are already rated for. This could assist you with your monthly expenses as you are missing work during your recovery.

  11. RS Singer says:

    What would you do if you ordered a copies of your health and personnel records from the VA and someone else’s mental health records were included with your records? Isn’t this a HIPAA violation? Would you feel like your records may be intertwined with someone else’s records as well?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear R.S.,

      I suggest you send the misfiled records back to the VA with a note that an error was made.There is no way to know whether some of your records were misfiled also, except to review to see whether, based on your memory, everything seems to be covered. Even if some were misfiled there’d be no way of knowing where and, therefore, they would be irretrievable.

      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  12. Destiny Ellis says:

    I have been battling with the VA for over a year now and they said back on August 11, 2014 that my claim moved to pending decision approval I have called so many times i even got a letter telling me to stop calling the VA they would complete my claim when they got to it. Now i find out yesterday May 24, 2015 that apparently the only thing that has been holding it up is that the VA needed a copy of my DD214 and I’m like really!!!!!!! they have made NO AND I MEAN NO effort to contact me via email, mail, phone, or any other means. All my information is up to date and I know they have my address since they mailed me a letter telling me to quit calling them!!! Not to mention every time I have called I have asked is there anything I need to do or anything that is needed from me and i kept being told no no no they are just working on your claim!!! So now I’m stuck waiting who knows how long, cause no one can tell me what is going on. And I don’t even know for sure if the only thing that was really holding it up was just that one form. Is there anyone i can talk to that can give me specifics on my claim and some kind of liaison to help me out cause this is getting beyond absurd!!!!

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Destiny,

      The VA structure is complex and bureaucratic. Your claim is handled by at least 3 teams within the VA structure and each team have 2-3 members who will review any given claim file. So it will be difficult to pin down any one VA staff member to give you a status report. No one person within the VA will accept responsibility as to status reports. I suggest you will need to go in person to the VA Regional Office for a status report and you may or may not be able to get a concrete answer. Remember that there are more than one million claims pending within the VA system.

      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  13. Ray Ro says:

    5 years ago I submitted a claim to the VA. It took a year for a 20% grant. There were obvious errors on the C&P exam. They ignored the content of my notice of disagreement. I was told I could appeal and that it would take about 3 years or wait a year and apply for an increase. I filed for an increase. I received a 30% rating in a year with different obvious errors on the C&P exam. I waited a year and applied for an increase. This time the C&P exam was correct and I received a 50% rating. The whole process this time was just 6 weeks.

    I praise the VA that they can do it right when they try. They could have save me 4+ years if they did it right the first time.

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