Why does it take so long to get a VA claim approved? I hear this all the time from veterans frustrated by the VA’s red tape and long waiting periods.
Well, there’s good news. It might not take that long anymore. With the introduction of the VA’s new Fully Developed Claim (FDC) program, veterans can now get their claims for Disability Compensation and Pension expedited.
A recent study of the VA’s adjudication system found that the average VA claim takes almost six months to process. As a result, the VA wants to find new ways to cut that time down. The FDC program is one answer, and the VA says it will cut average processing time by several months.
What Takes So Long?
A traditional VA claim goes through several steps, including a “development” stage, in which the VA gathers all pertinent information, records and medical evidence that someone uses to support their claim.
This process, as you can imagine, can take VA case workers several months to complete. Development of the claim itself can take a considerable amount of time, especially when the veteran submits a VA Form 21-4142 Authorization and Consent to Release Information to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which authorizes the VA to request your private medical records from your physician, surgeon or medical facility.
I advocate having veterans get those medical records themselves and then submit them with their VA claim. That way they minimize the time the VA spends trying to ensure they have all the necessary records from doctors. Just by submitting the medical records yourself — and avoiding filling out Form 21-4142 — you can cut several months out of the process.
A side note: When you ask your doctors for records, you may have to be persistent. Many doctors simply don’t like records to leave their office. Bottom line: Those are your records. You are entitled to them — or copies of them.
New Program Aims to Expedite Claims
Recently, the VA created a program that allows veterans to get their application pushed quickly through the system by bypassing the claim development stage.
Basically, the veteran can file a Fully Developed Claim form instead of the traditional Disability Application, and as long as all the necessary paperwork is included, the VA will send the claim straight to the Rating Officer’s desk for adjudication. The key is knowing exactly what the VA needs to accompany your claim. You must have the right records and paperwork to meet the VA’s criteria of a Fully Developed Claim.
So what are the criteria of a Fully Developed Claim for Disability Compensation? It’s a lengthy list. That’s where we come in. Our veterans counselors assist you in that process and provide you with all the information and forms you will need.