There's no set time for how long veterans must wait before they get disability compensation benefits through Veterans Affairs. The VA must follow every application with a complete evaluation, which could include an exam. Only then does it issue the rating for compensation, which signifies the severity of the veteran's condition. The turnaround time depends on how long it takes to research the individual veteran's situation.
Rating standard claims takes anywhere from a few months to more than one year. Standard claims begin in the development phase, during which the VA gathers all the information needed to make a rating decision. If a veteran’s service treatment records or personnel file are difficult to locate, delays occur. Failure to provide authorization for private medical records, or slow response time from providers can also halt the process. Veterans who miss or reschedule exams will also wait longer to receive a rating. Claims for multiple disabilities can also prolong the process.
The Fully-Developed Claims program allows veterans to get a faster decision since it eliminates the development phase. Medical records, service treatment records and a copy of the veteran’s DD-214 must be included with every FDC claim. Veterans who have not sought recent medical treatment for disabilities must schedule and attend exams and submit them as supporting evidence when the claim is filed. Fully-Developed Claims and standard forms use the same VA Form 21-526EZ. Veterans simply check the box for the FDC program at the bottom.
Active duty service members may file claims through the Benefits Delivery at Discharge program 60 to 180 days before separation. Applicants attend exams and get a proposed rating while still in service. BDD claims have a completion goal of 60 days following separation or retirement. Service members within 59 days of separation may file pre-discharge claims through the Quick Start program. The VA begins developing the veteran’s claim immediately, which decreases overall processing time. Quick Start claims do not have a time frame goal, but are typically rated faster than post-discharge claims.
The Notification Process
Once a rating percentage is assigned, claims receive final authorization and move to the notification phase. This phase includes the completion of a notification letter that states the veteran’s combined service-connected rating, explains the reasons for the VA’s rating decision and outlines monthly payments. Veterans get retroactive payment via direct deposit immediately. The notification process takes anywhere from a few days to a month. Veterans whose claims are not part of the BDD program are not informed of their ratings until they receive their notification letters.
Some VA benefits claims do not require a disability rating for completion. Unemployment, burial reimbursement, surviving spouse benefits and claims to add dependents are typically processed in as little as two weeks, depending on the regional office. Delays in non-rating claims typically occur when applicants fail to provide needed information, such as a death certificate or employment information.
Cate Rushton has been a freelance writer since 1999, specializing in wildlife and outdoor activities. Her published works also cover relationships, gardening and travel on various websites. Rushton holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Utah.