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Veterans are our nation’s most precious resource. They served our country when needed, and they should be taken care of in their own time of need as well. This is precisely why the Department of Veterans Affairs was created in the first place: to help those who have sacrificed so much so they can obtain sufficient income to care for their families.
What Happens After I File a Disability Claim?
Confirmation of Claim Received
Medical Evidence Gathering
Review and Decision
Preparation for Notification
How do I Check the Claim Status?
Some claimants can have trouble when it comes to checking their application status. They may have trouble understanding their claim decision, or how to properly fill out the VA forms. The VA claims process can seem daunting at times, and many give up on receiving disability benefits before they even get started. But all you need is the right information, and you can clear up the confusion. Let’s walk you through the VA claim process right now.
The VA claim process has a lot of steps involved, and it’s important to follow them properly. The process begins with confirming a claim was received and then works towards the status of Claim Complete. We will walk you through these steps and show you how to check your claim status throughout this process.
Confirmation of Claim Received
After filing a disability claim with the VA, the VA sends a confirmation to claimants that they have received their claim. Claims sent by mail could take several days to be confirmed. But if you file online, you can receive confirmation immediately after the application is submitted.
After eligible veterans have filled out the appropriate VA form, they will be placed into the initial review process. This means the VA is actively reviewing the claim. At this point, a Veterans Service Officer (VSO) Representative is specifically assigned to the case. During this time, VA administrators will let applicants know if any further documentation is necessary.
As soon as the case has passed through this initial review process, you will be moved forward to the next phase of filing your claim.
Some are surprised at how long this process might take, and find themselves asking the question, “How long does VA claim stay in initial review?”
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. Every case is different and handled on a case-by-case basis. Many claims move on to the evidence-gathering phase after just a couple of weeks, while others can take longer. It all depends on what additional evidence may need to be reviewed, and how long it takes to review it. Some may expedite the process ahead of time, by submitting what the VA refers to as a fully developed claim.
Unlike a regular initial claim, with background information painstakingly gathered by a VA representative, a fully developed claim has all the information the VA needs to make a determination already in place. By submitting a fully developed claim, you can speed up the standard VA claims process considerably, ensuring you receive the payment and social security benefits you need.
Medical Evidence Gathering
This step of the process entails further medical evidence gathering into the claimant’s condition and the nature of their disability. This is normally handled by the VSO representative, stationed out of a VA regional office, who has been assigned to the case. But it’s important to note that using a VSO is optional, and other representation can be utilized as well. The claimant can make use of any VA-accredited claims agent or even a veterans disability attorney , who specializes in filing claims with the VA.
At this stage medical professionals, employers, or other agencies may be contacted. During this stage, the VA reviews all the evidence, and based on what they see, they come to a determination. It is at this juncture that the claimant is assigned a VA disability rating . The disability rating one receives decides the amount of VA benefit they are awarded.
If the claimant receives a 10% disability rating, for example, they will receive the least amount of benefit. A claimant who receives a 100% disability rating, however, will receive the maximum possible VA disability compensation for documented disability sustained during military service. For those below a 100% disability rating, some work, and even unemployment benefits are still possible, even while receiving their VA disability benefits.
Preparation for Notification
After the evidence has been gathered and a determination has been made, a packet containing your claim decision will be put together and mailed to the address that the VA has on file. It is this packet that will contain the results of your VA disability claim, and information regarding any subsequent compensation benefits.
When you receive your packet, you will be able to go over the details of the determination made regarding your disability claim and expected compensation. The packet is sent through standard U.S. mail, so it may take 7-10 days to receive it. After your packet has arrived, feel free to call your local regional office for any questions you may have about your claim or the nature of any veterans disability determination received.
Also, don’t hesitate to reach out to your personal service officer for any needed clarification of disability benefits awarded, and if you would like to file a veterans’ appeal. During the appeal, a supplemental claim can be filed so that service members can submit additional evidence not previously included in their original disability claim. Until further notice such as this is received, at this point in the VA claims process, the applicant’s claim is considered complete.
How to Check the Claim Status
To check your application status, you will need to go to the official VA website. Once there, scroll down the page until you find the option, “Check your claim or appeal status.” (See also this link to VA.gov’s website). You will be taken to a page with the heading, “What types of claims and appeals can I track with this tool?” This section will help you to check your VA claim status. Here you can track a wide variety of claims, such as disability compensation and survivors’ pension benefits.
Survivors’ pension cash benefits are usually awarded to the surviving spouse of service members. Other forms of compensation frequently checked are special monthly compensation and burial allowance. This online tool is also frequently used to check up on VA health care benefits, such as the newly rolled out Community Care section, available to all eligible veterans.
Other areas of interest include education benefits such as the GI Bill, as well as special employment programs like the VR & E (Veteran Readiness and Employment), which is a great boon for service members struggling with unemployment, along with unemployment insurance benefits through their state government. The tool is also useful for checking the status of home loans, life insurance, and “pre-need determination of eligibility” as it pertains to burial at the VA national cemetery.
To use this tool to check the status of all these types of claims, you will need to create at least one of these free accounts: My HealthVet, DS Logon, and ID.me. Create your free account by submitting your social security number, birth date, gender, and other personal information.
With your free account established, simply sign in and click on “My VA.” Now select the option “Track Claims.” From here you can click on the “View Status” link, which will take you to a page which will give you a detailed status report about your recent claim. This section provides details about the status of existing evidence used in the claims process, such as physician testimony, lab work, and other documentation.
Just keep in mind, some documents you may not be immediately available for review if you mailed or faxed them in. The same lag time goes for documents dropped off in-person to a VA employee. It might take a few days for the new documents to be added to your claim.
Certain submitted documents may be withheld due to certain confidentiality agreements. Information regarding a recent employer, for example, may fall under this category. If you have any further questions about the process you can call the VA directly at 1-800-827-1000, any time between 8 am – 9 pm (EST).
What If My Claim Is Denied?
Don’t lose hope if your VA claim is denied. Unfortunately, claim denials are all too common. But this isn’t a reason to give up—it’s simply a reason to file an appeal. To appeal a veterans disability claim, you will have to file what’s known as an “NOD.” NOD stands for “Notice of Disagreement.” This is how you can let the VA know that you don’t agree with the determination that they have made on your behalf.
All applicants have one year from the effective date of their claim decision to file their NOD. Your Notice of Disagreement needs to be submitted through the “VA Form 21-0958.” But just as any veterans disability attorney might advise you—be careful what you write. Don’t put too many unnecessary details about why you reject the VA’s denial because just like in a court of law, anything you say, can and will be used against you later.
This means that you want to keep things as brief and to the point as possible. The NOD is used to simply state that you disagree with the determination. Just state your wish to appeal, and leave it at that. Once your NOD is filled out, be sure to retain an additional copy for yourself, before sending the form off to the local VA office from which the denied claim originated. You might also want to deliver it via “certified mail” to speed up the veterans’ appeals process.
Understanding the VA Claim Status
The service rendered by our nation’s veterans should never be taken lightly. They served our country, and so they too deserve to be served by the country they fought for. Many of our nation’s veterans run into difficulty when it comes to getting their benefits, however, and find themselves discouraged by the claims process.
Armed with the right information however, the steps to claiming VA benefits are not as difficult as they may first seem. There are many tools available for service members seeking compensation for the time they served. All you need to do is file your claim, wait for confirmation, go through the initial review period, and then await further evidence gathering, review, and decision. After this, you will get your preparation for notification about your VA claim status.
If you disagree with the determination, you can go through the appeals process. Winning an appeal is a matter of having the right evidence and information. A VA disability attorney can give professional assistance throughout the claim process and increase your chances of winning an appeal.