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How Long Does a VA Appeal Take?

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Understanding the factors that affect VA Appeal Time

  • VA claim appeals can potentially take years to be resolved.
  • Veterans can expedite their claims depending on their circumstances.
  • VA lawyers can assist with the VA claim appeals process.

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs provides many who served this country with healthcare and support like disability benefits. Filing a claim to receive VA disability benefits in theory should ensure that veterans in need of compensation receive the necessary help.

However, there are many cases where legitimate claims are denied and force veterans to make an appeal. The process of appealing a VA claim for disability benefits can come with several potential obstacles that can make the experience frustrating and unnecessarily long. 

Many veterans faced with going through this process want to know what the exact time frame will be for their appeal to be resolved. Unfortunately, there is no straight answer. 

VA claim appeals differ greatly from case to case but rough estimates are possible depending on the details of the claim. You can schedule a free case evaluation with VetLaw by calling (336) 355-8387 or filling out a contact form on our website. Our experienced team will gladly assist you with your case.

How a VA Claim Can Be Denied

Veterans seeking disability benefits will initially file a claim with the VA by filling out a form online or on paper and submitting it along with all the other necessary documentation. The VA currently states that the wait time for a VA claim decision is 159.8 days. This time can vary and the process will most likely take longer than the estimate. 

Many veterans receive the disappointing notification after all that time that their claim has been denied. VA claim denials can occur for a number of reasons due to the bureaucratic complexities of the process. 

Some of the most common reasons for VA claim denial include the following.

  • Incomplete or incorrectly completed paperwork
  • Submitted medical evidence is rejected
  • There is a lack of diagnosis by a medical provider
  • A claimed condition is not recognized as a disability
  • A condition’s lack of service connection
  • The condition is considered pre-existing 
  • The claim was submitted past the deadline

How a VA Claim Appeal Works

If your VA claim has been denied there are three options for veterans who wish to have their claim reevaluated. 

Supplemental Claims

Veterans with denied claims can file a supplemental claim using VA Form 20-0995 within one year of filing their initial claim. A supplemental claim provides additional information and evidence relevant to the denied claim. This can help prove or disprove disputed or rejected information.

Higher Level Review

Veterans can also request a higher-level review of their claim by filing VA Form 20-0996. A higher-level review consists of a denied VA claim getting a second look by a more experienced and senior decision-maker. 

These reviews use the same evidence submitted at the time prior to claim submission. They can also be accompanied by a single requested informal conference to go over the claim.

Appeal to the Board

The last option veterans have is to file an appeal with the board using VA Form 10182. An appeal to the board has three options or dockets as they are formally known.

  • Direct Review Docket: The claim can be directly reviewed by a veterans’ law judge using the evidence from the time of the prior claim decision.
  • Evidence Submission Docket: Additional evidence can be submitted to the board within 90 days following submission of VA Form 10182.
  • Hearing Docket: A hearing to decide the approval of the claim will be scheduled. 

What Affects VA Claim Appeal Wait Time?

The wait time for VA claim appeals has actually changed significantly with the implementation of a new claims system in 2019 thanks to the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017. Wait times for the old system known as the legacy system were estimated to be 12 to 18 months.

The new claims system does not have any official estimates for appeal wait times from the VA due to the lack of data available. However, the VA has implemented new policies with the new claims system to streamline the appeals process and reduce some wait times. 

New VA Claims System Appeal Goals

Higher-level reviews and supplemental claims have been given 125-day goals for issuing decisions by the VA. These are only goals and not strict deadlines so there is flexibility regarding the reality of these time frames but the existence of these goals indicates pressure to reduce their wait times from before. 

Regarding appeals to the board, direct review dockets have been given a 365-day goal. Evidence submission and hearing dockets have been given much longer wait times with hearing dockets estimated to take several years before a decision is given. 

Factors That Can Expedite a VA Claim Appeal

While these wait times for a VA claim appeal can be long, appellants may be able to have the process expedited depending on certain time-critical circumstances they face. Appellants who are facing extreme financial hardship can seek the expedition of their claim.

Situations where an appellant can provide proof that they are unable to pay living expenses, rent, they face bankruptcy, etc. are required to expedite a claim appeal. Homelessness is also a circumstance that the VA will take into consideration regarding expediting the appeal of a claim.

Advanced age is also grounds to expedite a claim, although the precise age requirements for this change. The standard changes depending on the decisions of the Regional Office or the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, which require 85 and 75-year age minimums, respectively. 

Finally, the diagnosis of a terminal illness can get a VA claim appeal expedited. The disease in question has to be considered untreatable and resulting in the premature death of the appellant. Diseases such as cancers and organ failures are most often used to expedite claim appeals. 

Contact VetLaw About Your VA Claim Appeal

If you are a veteran struggling with the appeal process after having your VA claim denied then consider contacting VetLaw. Our VA-accredited lawyers can assist you with expediting the appeal of your claim by bringing the full force of our firm’s resources and experience to bear.

The representation of an experienced veterans lawyer can help you with every aspect of your claim and overcome the bureaucratic hurdles you may face. To contact VetLaw about your case you can either fill out a contact form on our site or call VetLaw at (855) 977-1756.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I receive back pay if my VA claim appeal is successful?

Yes, you may be able to obtain back pay in this situation. This is why initiating a claim sooner rather than later is important because that establishes your effective date. The VA uses your effective date to mark the beginning of when your benefits started accumulating.

How many times can I appeal a denied veterans disability claim with the VA?

Although you can appeal as many times as you want, the considerable delay and paperwork-heavy process make this an unpleasant prospect for many vets. Instead, give your appeal the best chance of success from the outset by hiring VetLaw to champion your claim.

What is the success rate for appeals?

The VA granted 38.9% of appeals for veterans disability claims out of the 23,529 decisions issued in 2022. Certain re-evaluation paths have lower rates of success.