Loading...
You are here:  Home  >  Veterans Disability  >  Current Article

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

By   /  March 3, 2016  /  193 Comments

    Print       Email

veteran-disability-benefits
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.

    Print       Email

193 Comments

  1. Janet says:

    I had submitted every possible piece of paperwork and had all of my appointments done well before I got out of the Military. I have been waiting since September 2015. Who should I contact, if anyone, personally to see if I will get any answers sooner rather than later? The Va says its pending but it’s been pending for nine months.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Janet,

      A VA claim can pend for years within the VA claim system. You can improve the chances of a quicker determination by obtaining current medical evidence from a private physician to document your current condition and an opinion from the physician about whether your condition now links to the medical event you had while in the service.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Janet says:

        Mr. Ames,
        I have already gotten all the documents needed for the Va. But having current medical documents, and taking them into a VA around me could help the odds of getting a faster determination; or would I upload them onto ebenefits?
        Thank you for your time.
        V/R,
        Janet

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Janet,

          It is irrelevant as to how you submit documentation to the VA. So long as the VA receives the new information, it will process it. Note that a VA claim can take years to review. This is because the VA is required by Congress to help veterans fully develop claim information. The VA system is overwhelmed with more than four million claim application filings each year. More than one million claims are in a backlog status. Absent Congress doing something to improve the system or staff it more fully, your claim will take significant time to work its way through the claim determination process.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  2. David says:

    I was rated in December of 2014. I haven’t seen a check yet, but people who left the service a year after me are being paid, a co-worker who retired in 2016 is going to be paid next month.

    I am eligible for CRDP, but the VA seems to be sitting on the form they need to send to DFAS.

    What can I do?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear David,

      You can request an appointment with a VA representative at your nearest VA Regional Office in the region in which you live. Look at your claim paperwork, which has an informational sheet listing the locations of VA regional offices by state. I suggest you visit that office in person.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  3. Adam says:

    There is one thing that no-one here has addressed as far as I can tell. It is understandable that there is backlog. Yes, some wait longer than others… I’ve been fighting them for 3 years now, even with congressional and senatorial intervention. I want to know what programs are out there to help veterans who are waiting? As the bureaucratic wheels turn and grind our lives to dust, there is no way for us to pay our bills. Banks don’t care that the government owes us money, they only care about getting paid. Rents/Mortgages, utilities, food, etc. are all things that don’t care a whit that it’s not your fault you can’t pay. I don’t want to get into foreclosure, bankruptcy and ruined credit before the government will step in (especially when it’s their fault in the first place)… by then it’s too late.
    BTW, all this happened because the VA sent my C&P re-eval appointment to the wrong address, so I never got it. Since I didn’t show up for the appointment I didn’t know I had, they reduced my disability instantly, and I’ve been fighting (and I do mean FIGHTING) them ever since. If you owe them money, they give you 90 days to pay, but if they owe you money, it takes years, and only if you ride them and check back with them constantly. It’s infuriating!!!!

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Adam,

      Some veterans groups can offer free services to those who served in the military. Various charities help veterans such as the Disabled American Veterans, the Vietnam Vets, the American Legion, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. I suggest you make a visit to a local vet agency in the city where you live. Each of these organizations have staff or volunteers who know the benefits available to veterans.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  4. Wendell says:

    I’ve been working with the Chicago VA on three claims:
    disability, adding my Wife as a dependent and extending my daughter’s college eligibility past her 21st birthday.
    The disability claims was just recently decided after help from my Congressman. This process took over 4 years.
    Adding my wife as a dependent claim is going on 3 years. Just recently I checked EBENIFITS and the status was “Preperation for notification” with an expected date of resolution between June 13th, 2016 – July 5th, 2016. When I checked the status a couple days later the status was changed from Preperation for notification to Pending Decision Approval and the completion date changed to Aug 31st, 2016 to Dec 13th, 2016.
    I believe this is retaliation by the Chicago VA because I contacted my congressman for assistance. How can I find out the claims processing for the Chicago Regional Office and maybe a POC in the IG’s office.
    any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Wendell,

      The Disability Advisor cannot render an opinion on a loaded charge since it is mere speculation. If you have a basis of fact for such a claim you can submit your evidence to the VA. However, with more than four million claims filed annually and more than one million claims nationwide in backlog status, it highly unlikely that the VA would single out a routine claim for retaliation.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  5. Doug Vessel says:

    I find my initial claim with the VA online back in February 2016. I listed like eight or nine disabilities. Anyways, a medical unit contractor from Lockheed called to set me up a medical EVal and my appointment is in two weeks. It’s only for 4 of the disabilities that I filed and They said the other ones may come at a later time. My question is, would should I expect at this eval? Thanks car

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Doug,

      That is a complex question. The answer is that the VA has written criteria by classification of medical conditions. There are about 7,000 classifications. Each classification has detailed examination protocols. So you will need to research each contention you are claiming. You will need to consult with a professional accredited VA agent at a non-profit such as DAV or the American Legion or an accredited VA attorney.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  6. Danny Porche says:

    I was just wondering, how long does it take after I get my disability percentage for the VA to send the back pay through direct deposit?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Danny,

      Back pay is typically a manual process not involving direct deposit. Monthly ongoing benefits are paid via direct deposit. So it can take up to six months for benefit processing of back pay.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  7. Jeff says:

    I received a V.a award letter last year 2014 saying I would receive payments June 2015 , well it’s now July 2016
    What’s going on ? Every time I call they basically say nothing .
    I have an award letter already
    Please help

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jeff,

      I suggest you visit the VA Regional Office in the state where you live. You can get this checked out by the VA staff, if you take the award letter with you to show them.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • kim says:

        That does not help, they said i have to wait till 2019 for our retro money, we got the letter saying he got unemployability of march 6th 2016 and now on ebenefits its saying underreview till 2019 for his retro

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Kim,

          You have posted under a veterans benefits article. Are you inquiring about VA or about Social Security? I can’t find a previous question from you.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

  8. Corey Cato says:

    I have already received compensation for a couple separate disabilities. It took a year after I filed to start receiving anything. However, I have an open claim for a shoulder injury that I obtained overseas in which the VA paid for the surgery through an outside Ortho. and they are paying for my Physical Therapy through the same Ortho. but my claim for my shoulder has yet to be finalized. I actually had surgery a few weeks before I ever saw a doctor for the medical evaluation for C&P… How is this possible?

    The doctor was surprised by it as well, so I am assuming that this type of situation is highly uncommon… Any Ideas?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Corey,

      I am unable to answer why this is possible. I cannot speculate on this situation. You can make an appointment to visit the VA Regional Office and make an official inquiry about your benefits.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  9. Toni says:

    Is VA compensation counted as income for assistance such as section 8, Hud housing, foodstamps, medicad?. I live in North Carolina

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Toni,

      I am responding rather than a VA attorney because your question does not deal with VA law. It is very likely that VA compensation will be countable income for all the public assistance programs you mention. I suggest that you check with each assistance office to be sure.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  10. Brenda says:

    I think my question may be an easy one for you. I am having a local rep at the local Veterans Service Commission handle my claim.
    I wanted to know why an effective date was entered on the same line as my direct deposit information. My C & P exam is in 3 days.

    Thanks,

    Brenda

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Brenda,

      Since you have a representative, the local Veterans Service Commission assisting you, they are in the best position to advise you concerning the specific details of your claim payments and direct deposit setup.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  11. Will says:

    I started the claims process back in 2009 and just had my final appeal with a Law Judge in Washington DC. It’s been over 7 years since I started this process. I guess I’ll get an answer in another 7 years.

  12. Blaise Pascal says:

    Just made my one year anniversary waiting on my claim. Is this the norm for Camp Lejeune claims?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Blaise,

      Location of where the claim is alleged to have originated is not relevant as to how long it takes to process a VA claim. There are more than four million claims filed last year, so it can take years for the VA to process a claim. What is relevant is whether or not the evidence needed to bring the claim to a determination stage has been produced. It is up to the VA to develop that evidence unless the veteran filing the claim is proactive and takes the responsibility to produce all evidence needed. Often it takes a seasoned VA accredited lawyer to know what evidence is needed to fully develop a claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  13. al says:

    I have 45 days left before my final retirement date in the military and I have all the documents done just waiting to be filed but I might get a contracting job overseas in couple of months. Do I have to wait until I finished my contract or can I submit it now? I’m just worried that I might not make all the appointments. Will they give the back pay if I wait to file it?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Al,

      I cannot answer your question since I do not know to what benefit plan, type of claim, and branch of the armed forces you are referencing.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Galbanolli says:

        Hello,

        My husband suffers from ptsd. He is rated only 50%, which he appealed about a year ago. He filed an appeal and a reauest to be 100% un employability. We have been waiting forever and nothing changes. He still has not been sent to get a medical evaluation.
        Problem is, we are having grave economic issues since he can’t work due to his ptsd. We are running out of money and food.
        He is considering getting a job, even though it will most likely not go well and he will get fired or quit soon after; but we have no other choice since I am a student and also making the only money we have. I can’t get another job, it’s too much for me to handle.
        Will gettig a job while we wait compromise his claim? If so, what can we do? We are so scared and depressed right now. We have an 8 year old and another on the way (I know, horrible timing). Please advice. And thabk you in advance.

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Galbanolli,

          You need the help of a professional who is versed in the VA compensation benefit claim process. Contact a VA accredited attorney in your community. You most likely need to obtain a private-pay medical opinion regarding your husband’s medical conditions. Waiting for a VA medical evaluation is probably not the best course of action here.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  14. Michael Hess says:

    I have an open claim with the VA right now. I’m on terminal leave until 27 Aug. I am supposed to be seen by a medical provider to gather evidence but unsure how this appointment is created. Will I receive an appointment via mail, email? How long does it usually take to get seen after you ETS?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Michael,

      I am unable to answer your question. Depending on whether the medical appointment is with a military facility or is to be scheduled by the Department of Veterans Affairs, I suggest you check with the military base the claim is associated with or with your local VA office.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  15. Cjeis says:

    My husband spent 16 years as a Navy Corpsman, and did everything he was supposed to do to aid in the claim process when he discharged.

    For the last few months, it said it should be complete by the end of August. Now, that we’ve reached the end of August, it’s been changed to the end of October.

    This is insane and a prime example of how terribly our service members are treated.

    People rely on the benefits they’ve earned and to be in this waiting game is completely unfair.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Cjeis,

      Exercise your right to vote and vote for people who you think will fund sufficient staff to move benefit applications along faster. You can also write to your current representatives lobbying for increased staffing

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  16. daniel Lopez says:

    I just started on my clime about 2 months ago, and i haven’t received anything in the mail about them needing anything do i need to be concern?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Daniel,

      New claims take from two to five months for a decision. That said, I suggest that you contact Social Security either at your local office or by calling the central phone call center at 1-800-772-1213 to find out whether your claim has been sent to the Disability Determination Services (DDS). If it has not, find out what is needed to get it sent–whether they are waiting for something from you or it has just been overlooked. You should have completed a fairly long questionnaire about your medical condition and another about your work history as well as an authorization for release of information. If it has gone to DDS, you can ask for the phone number and talk to the claims examiner to find out if they are waiting for medical records or anything you can help get.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

    • RudyD says:

      claim vs clime… just clarifying

  17. Brittany says:

    My husband and I are really suffering dealing with the VA. They have lost his paper work for the disability claim multiple times. We have been waiting a year for someone to help us. We have contacted everyone that can possibly help us and no one has an answer. We are suffering from financial difficulties now. My husband is a full time student and the VA can’t even get that right and have not given him his full BAH. Even though I work full time as a cosmetologist it’s not enough. We have lost everything and was not able to pay our car, utilities and even my husbands books for school. The bank repossessed our car. We are totally embarrassed about what’s going on.

    My question: Does anyone know who my husband can contact to get this ball rolling? He submitted his claim even before he was out. All the evidence has been collected and everything is done and now apparently his claim is in this waiting status. We have called everyone! It’s like no one knows what’s going on.

    Please give me any info you know!!!

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Brittany,

      There are more than 4 million VA claims filed annually. It can take the VA years to process any given claim. This is the nature of working with this federal agency. There has been much written about this problem in the news. Unfortunately there is no simple answer here.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Tierra McGirt says:

        When I was ACAPing, I was told he here is a process to help the evaluating and receiving benefits only take at least 3 to 6 months months…what is this process called?? And would you recieve the full benefits? And also, there are two types of forms they will offer you to sign one, one is for you to recieve the full sum and one is for you to recieve the your benefits monthly as required…what are these two forms called??

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Tierra,

          I do not have answers for your questions. I suggest that you check with an organization such as the American Legion or Disabled Americaqn Veterans to see if they know or you could contact your regional VA office.

          Sincerely,
          Craig L. Ames
          Accredited VA Attorney

  18. Tonja Hill says:

    Good afternoon,
    My husband is waiting on a decision from the VA for C&p claim that was filed Sept. 2015. When I checked his Ebenefits status, it states open claim but, there isn’t anything there. Plus, when he called the 800# , they told him that his claim is in the final stages. When he called a month later, he was told that his file is back to gathereing stages. Why is there such a flip flop in deciding a claim for completion?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Tonja,

      The processing of proving a VA compensation claim is complex. The decision maker can review a claim and decide that more information is needed to stage a claim for a resolution and return it to the information gathering department. This is a normal procedure within the claim determination process. Many claims take years before a decision is made.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

      • Jimmy says:

        Hello, I started my claim back in June prior to getting out. Had two C&P exams done at the PHX VA in July. Checked this morning and my claim has updated to the preparation for decision step. This process seems to be moving a lot more quickly than I originally expected. Is it safe to assume that I could have a decision within the next month seeing as how quickly the process has been moving?

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Marie,

          I can’t guarantee that your child will receive the maximum SSI benefit. It will depend on what the total household shelter costs are. It is likely that your child’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will be paid into a Dedicated Account with restricted uses. You can apply for permission to use some of the money to repair the car because it is needed for medical transportation and one of the allowed uses is for medical needs. Whether or not the money could be used to move the family into its own housing I don’t know. It never hurts to cost out how much that would be and make statement on why you need to move and a request. You can read more about Dedicated Accounts at https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0200602140 .

          Sincerely,
          Kay

  19. Justin Crocker says:

    As of September 18th, I will be at 52 months waiting on my appeal. I have a veterans group working for me, but they, honestly, haven’t been much help. I’ve reached out to my Senator and after they filed a formal inquiry, his office just regurgitated the same as the VA… ‘They’re working appeals from December ’13 and will get to mine.’ I’ve been told that there is nothing else needed from me and I am just waiting on the DRO review. My initial May ’12 appeal date comes way before December ’13, so where is the VA really on appeals in the Atlanta region?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Justin,

      Yes, it can take years for the VA to review a file to reach a decision. You may want to consider seeking the services of a VA accredited attorney to review your options.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  20. Taurean Wade says:

    I’m a veteran and rated at 90% and I have an appeal in since July 2015 I was denied unemployability and need some help

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Tarean,

      Proving an increase in rating is difficult and a complex medical-legal issue. You are best served by engaging the services of a VA accredited attorney. Consider making an appointment with an attorney who can evaluate the merits of your claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

  21. Ronald Enriquez says:

    I am losing all faith in the VA. They have consistantly moved my claim completion date over and over. They give a time frame for completion then each time it gets close to that time the revise it and move it further back; I feel as though nothing will ever be completed….it has now been a year and still waiting…..I hope that they will back pay me for all this lost time……otherwise I may never see a dime….

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Ronald,

      It has been widely reported that the VA is having management issues. VA claims can take years to process. The only way you can improve how long it takes for the VA to rule on your claim is for you to proactively develop and submit all medical-legal proof necessary to perfect a claim. This is known as a fully developed claim. Unless one is an attorney accredited by the VA or a trained professional in the VA claim process, it is difficult for a veteran to understand what is needed to complete the claim process. Going it alone does slow down the process. You may want to consider hiring a professional to assist you in fully developing your claim.

      Sincerely,
      Craig L. Ames
      Accredited VA Attorney

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Simple Share Buttons
Simple Share Buttons