VA Benefits Claim: Understanding the Timeline

Summary

  • The VA benefits claim process takes an average of 103 days.
  • Gathering evidence like medical records can speed up the process and improve chances of success.
  • Certain conditions like PTSD may change the timeline.
  • Decisions can be appealed if necessary.

Table of Contents

Veterans across the country rely on Veterans Affairs or VA benefits for healthcare, education assistance, home loans, and compensation for disabilities incurred during military service. The support of the VA is essential for veterans reentering civilian life, particularly when a disabled veteran needs access to crucial medical care.

To access these benefits, veterans must file a claim and follow it along a series of steps. Let’s go over the typical timeline and the key stages of a VA benefits claim.

Preparing to File Your VA Benefits Claim

When preparing to file your VA benefits claim, you should check your eligibility for various benefits. There is often a 90-day active duty service requirement, but the specifics vary between different types of benefits.

  • Generally, you are eligible for disability benefits if you served in active duty, you have a current illness or injury, and that condition is related to your military service.
  • For education benefits like the GI Bill, you’re required to have served 90 days in active duty or been injured in active duty.
  • For home loans, the usual 90-day requirement applies.

Next, you should gather any documentation that supports your claim. This can include service records, medical records, and supporting statements from family members, friends, or people you served with. You’ll have additional chances to prepare evidence later, but it’s best to get ahead.

The last step before filing your disability benefits claim is to find a VA-accredited representative to assist you.

Several of the attorneys at Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia are VA-accredited and will have your back every step of the way.

Filing the Claim

Filing a VA benefits claim is a relatively straightforward process, but there are several different ways to file a claim.

  • A Standard claim does not need to include supporting evidence beyond a few basic statements from the claimant. The VA office will gather evidence on its own to support the claim.
  • A Fully Developed claim includes supporting evidence along with the claim, making for a faster and more reliable process.

To file by mail, download the appropriate form–for instance, disability claims will use VA Form 21-526EZ–fill it out, and mail it to the listed address.

To file in person, locate the nearest VA office to you and they’ll help you out.

Finally, you can seek out an accredited representative like Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia for expert help navigating the claims process. This is probably the easiest and most reliable method of filing a claim.

Whichever method you choose, be sure that your claim is filled out completely and accurately to the best of your abilities. The fewer problems with your claim, the faster you will receive your benefits, such as TDIU backpay.

Learn more: Find Out How Much Your VA Benefits May Be With Our VA Disability Calculator

VA Benefits Claim Receipt and Initial Review

Once you file your claim, the process will usually take a little over 100 days from start to finish. The initial review step generally takes 12-14 days.

When the VA receives your benefits claim they’ll let you know–either on-screen or in a letter, depending on if you filed online or by mail.

At that point, the claim will enter the initial review phase, in which a reviewer will look over your claim and determine if any additional evidence is needed. If necessary, the claim will be moved on to the evidence-gathering and review phase.

Evidence Gathering and Review

During this phase of your VA benefits claim, the VA will gather additional evidence from sources like:

  • Any federal agency, including the military
  • VA medical centers, including private facilities that have given VA-authorized treatment
  • The Social Security Administration

They’ll also attempt to retrieve any other evidence you mention and will provide a medical team to examine you if necessary. Be sure to attend any requested examinations so you can get your claims approved.

This is also your chance to provide additional evidence that you may have. Having a VA-accredited attorney on your side during this stage is crucial. They can help you gather additional medical records, buddy statements, and other forms of evidence to strengthen your case. They can also ensure the VA considers all relevant service documents and medical history.

This step usually takes 12-14 days.

Claim Decision

When your claim receives a decision, it’ll usually be based on a certain “rating.” These ratings are expressed as percentages, from 0% to 100%, and are used to determine your monthly benefit payments.

You can check your status on the VA’s website, and they’ll also notify you by mail.

Learn more: How Can Veterans in Florida Claim VA Benefits?

After the Decision: Next Steps

If your claim is approved, within two weeks you should receive information on your new benefits and how to use them. For instance, if you’re approved for health benefits, you’ll receive a Veteran Health Identification Card and a handbook that explains how to access your benefits.

If your claim is denied, don’t panic. You can still file an appeal. Depending on how you want to proceed, you’ll either submit new information, ask for a more senior-level review, or take it to a veteran’s law judge. This can be complicated and frustrating, so be sure to contact a qualified attorney like Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia to understand your options.

A veterans disability benefits denial attorney can help you navigate the lengthy and complex appeals process, gather new evidence to support your claim, and represent you at any hearings. They can significantly increase your chances of a successful appeal.

Special Considerations

The timeline may be affected by special circumstances. Extreme financial hardships like evictions may qualify you for an expedited claims process. You can contact your regional VA office for more information.

Certain conditions, especially mental health conditions like PTSD, are more complicated to connect to your military service, and claims for these conditions may also take longer to navigate.

Once again, we highly recommend consulting with a veterans disability claims attorney if your claim involves service-related mental health conditions. An attorney with experience handling VA benefits claims will understand the unique challenges associated with service-connected mental health conditions and can effectively advocate for you throughout the claims process.

Contact WHG for Assistance Filing a VA Benefits Claim

Returning to civilian life can be complicated enough without the potential frustrations of a VA benefits claim. From the paperwork to the appeals, Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia is your committed ally in the claims process. We are veterans who understand your situation and have the skills and experience to help. Contact us today to get started. Call us at 1-800-320-HELP.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different types of VA benefits available?

Veterans Affairs offers a wide range of benefits to eligible veterans, including disability compensation, healthcare, education assistance, vocational rehabilitation, and home loans. The specific benefits you qualify for will depend on your service history and needs.

How do I know if I am eligible to file a VA claim?

Generally, you must have served in active duty for at least 90 days and have a current illness or injury connected to your military service. However, there are exceptions and variations depending on the specific benefit. The VA website has a benefits eligibility tool you can use to see if you may qualify.

What documents do I need to file a VA claim?

The documents you’ll need will vary depending on the type of benefit you’re applying for. However, common documents include your DD-214 (discharge papers), medical records, and service records. A VA-accredited attorney can help you identify and gather all the necessary documentation.

How long does the VA claims process take?

The VA claims process can take anywhere from a few months to over a year, with an average wait time of around 103 days. The timeframe can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of your claim and the workload at your regional VA office.

What happens if VA disability benefits claim is denied?

If your VA claim is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. The appeals process can be complicated, and it’s often helpful to have an attorney experienced in VA claims by your side.

No Win, No Fee Commitment

Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia is committed to helping you rebuild your life after a hardship. We are not just your legal team—we are your allies, your partners, and your advocates. We will do everything we can to handle your case with compassion and care, and to get you the results you need!

“And for every fight we take on, know this…we are doing everything we can to make sure we win!”

— Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia

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About the Author

Adam Werner is a partner and practicing attorney at WHG. He specializes in personal injury cases, workers’ compensation claims, and veteran disability benefits. He routinely writes about personal injury and workers comp topics for the Werner, Hoffman, Greig & Garcia blog

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