Our Counselors are available statewide to help you process your VA claim. These services are free of charge and our counselors are all Veterans who have chosen to serve their fellow Veterans and Veteran families. All our counselors are well versed on communicating your unique situation to the VA efficiently and effectively. Let us do what we do best. Serve you.
There are eight distinct steps that most claims for disability compensation follow. These phases may vary in time depending on the complexity of the claim, the amount of evidence that must be gathered to support the claims, and the type of evidence. You are strongly encouraged to submit as much evidence as possible with your claim to help minimize processing time. The eight steps of claims processing are as follows:
- Claim Received
Your claim has been received by the VA. If you applied online with VONAPP Direct Connect, you should see receipt in your list of Open Claims within one hour. If you applied through the U.S. mail, please allow mailing time plus one week for us to process and record receipt of your claim.
- Under Review
Your claim has been assigned to a Veterans Service Representative and is being reviewed to determine if additional evidence is needed. If we do not need any additional information, your claim will move directly to the Preparation for Decision phase.
- Gathering of Evidence
The Veterans Service Representative will request evidence from the required sources. Requests for evidence may be made of you, a medical professional, a government agency, or another authority. It is common for claims to return to this phase, should additional evidence be required.
- Review of Evidence
We have received all needed evidence. If, upon review, it is determined that more evidence is required, the claim will be sent back to the Gathering of Evidence phase.
- Preparation for Decision
The Veterans Service Representative has recommended a decision, and is preparing required documents detailing that decision. If more evidence is required, the claim will be sent back in the process for more information or evidence.
- Pending Decision Approval
The recommended decision is reviewed, and a final award approval is made. If it is determined that more evidence or information is required, the claim will be sent back in the process for more information or evidence.
- Preparation for Notification
Your entire claim decision packet is prepared for mailing.
The VA has sent a decision packet to you by U.S. mail. The packet includes details of the decision or award. Please allow standard mailing time for your packet to arrive before contacting a VA call center.
How Long Will This Process Take?
The length of time it takes to complete a claim depends on several factors, such as the type of claim filed, complexity of your disability (ies), the number of disabilities you claim, and the availability of evidence needed to decide your claim.
Primary “Types” of Claims
Under these special circumstances the claims process can be expedited for a quicker determination provided the appropriate documentation is presented to the VA.
General Information about Claims That Require Priority Processing
Listed below are categories of emergent claims requiring priority processing.
- Any claimant who is:
- Diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease
- A participant in the Fully Developed Claim (FDC) Program
- Experiencing extreme financial hardship, or;
- A survivor of a former Prisoner of War (FPOW).
- Any current or former member of the Armed Forces who:
- Was very seriously injured/seriously injured (VSI/SI) in service and is not already receiving Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability benefits
- Is an FPOW
- Is homeless
- Is terminally ill
- Is more than 85 years old, or
- Received the Medal of Honor.
Note: The Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) allows advancement on the appeals docket for claimants who are terminally ill, of advanced age, or experiencing financial hardship.
Priority Processing of Claims for Homeless Veterans
Homelessness has specific requirements, please contact your local counselor for more details on how to process an expedited claim for homelessness.
Claims Requiring Priority Processing Because of Extreme Financial Hardship
If a claimant states that he/she is experiencing extreme financial hardship and submits documentation to support the assertion, accept the claimant’s statement as factual.
Documentation to support the assertion of extreme financial hardship includes, but is not limited to:
- An eviction notice or statement of foreclosure
- Past due utilities notices, and/or
- Collection notices from creditors
- Repossession notice, etc.
Important: A Veterans Service Center Manager (VSCM) or Pension Management Center Manager (PMCM) may designate that a claim requires priority processing because of extreme financial hardship even though the documentation described in this block does not exist.
Priority Processing of Claims for Very Seriously Injured/ Seriously Injured Claimants (VSI/SI)
VSI/SI has specific requirements, please contact your local counselor for more details on how to process an expedited claim for VSI/SI Veterans.
Claims Requiring Priority Processing Because of Terminal Illness
If a claim is submitted with medical evidence of an illness that is likely to be terminal, the first line supervisor will determine prioritization. When determining if prioritization is warranted, VA considers the following:
- The likelihood the claimant will pass away before the completion of the claims process, and
- The probable need for access to ancillary benefits, such as Aid and Attendance, due to end of life care.
Note: We will need a doctor’s diagnosis and Hospice paperwork.
Fully Developed Claims
The Fully Developed Claims (FDC) program is an optional initiative that offers Veterans and survivors faster decisions from VA on compensation, pension, and survivor benefit claims.
Veterans and survivors simply submit all relevant records in their possession, and those records which are easily obtainable, such as private medical records, at the time they make their claim and certify that they have no further evidence to submit. VA can then review and process the claim more quickly.
Who Can File an FDC?
Veterans may file an FDC for disability compensation for the following reasons:
- An injury, disability, or condition believed to have occurred or been aggravated by military service.
- A condition caused or aggravated by an existing service-related condition.
Veterans and their families and survivors may also file pension or dependency and indemnity compensation (survivor) claims.
Why Use the FDC Process?
FDC puts you in control, and it’s faster and risk-free. By filing an FDC, Veterans and survivors take charge of their claim by providing all the evidence at once. By then certifying that there is no more evidence, VA can issue a decision faster.
File an FDC without risk. Participation will not affect the attention your claim receives from qualified VA rating staff or the benefits to which you’re entitled. If VA determines other non-federal records exist and are required to decide a claim, VA will simply remove the claim from the FDC program and process it through the traditional claims process. Once you initiate your FDC, you’ll have up to one year to complete it. Should VA approve your claim, you’ll be paid back to the day you initiated your claim.
How to Track Your Claim Status
You can track the status of your claim by either calling your counselor or you can registering for eBenefits at www.ebenefits.va.gov, or by calling them at 1-800-827-1000. On the VA’s ASPIRE site, you can find the average processing days for the regional office that is working on your claim. To find the average processing days for your state:
- Find your state on the map, place your cursor within the state and click
- This will open the Veterans Benefits Administration Aspire Benefits site. Click “Enter”
- You should see a split table. On the left table click on “Compensation”
- This will expand the table. Approximately five rows down is “Rating Claims Processing Time”
- Follow that row to the right until you locate the cell located within the column of your regional office.
The number you see is the average processing days to complete a claim that requires a disability rating. The average is based on completed claims since October 1, in a given fiscal year.