Knowing what stage of the appeals process your claim is in can help you avoid missing deadlines and better understand how the VA claims and appeals process works. Generally, there are eight steps that disability claims follow:
- Claim Received. Your claim is moved to this stage once it has been received by VA.
- Under Review. A Veterans Service Representative is reviewing your claim to determine if there is a need for additional evidence. This includes the results of your Compensation and Pension Exam, which VA will schedule.
- Gathering of Evidence. If the Veterans Service Representative deems that your claim requires additional evidence, he or she will request it from the appropriate sources.
- Review of Evidence. All evidence is received and is under review.
- Preparation for Decision. At this stage, the Veterans Service Representative has recommended a decision and is preparing documents detailing that decision.
- Pending Decision Approval. The Veterans Service Representative’s decision is reviewed, and a decision is made.
- Preparation for Notification. Your decision is being prepared for mailing.
- Complete. The award or decision is sent to you via U.S. mail, along with the details surrounding this decision.
VA allows veterans to track the progress of their claims throughout the claim stream in three ways:
- By visiting a local VA regional office;
- By calling VA’s national toll-free phone number at 800-827-1000;
- Or by logging into gov and using VA’s appeals tracker.
Online VA Appeals Status Tool
VA has created its online appeal status tracker in an attempt to improve transparency and allow veterans easier access to their appeal’s status. VA describes this tool as easy to use and provides accessible information to veterans. To use this tool, veterans can sign into vets.gov using:
- DS Logon, which is the same logon as your eBenefits account;
- My HealtheVet account;
- ID me account.
If you do not yet have a login, create an ID me account at vets.gov. Once you are logged in, select the “Check your claim and appeal status” option to access the appeals tracker tool.
The main page entitled “Your Compensation Appeals and Claims” will show the type of claim that is under appeal (e.g. Appeal of Compensation Decision), the date you received the claim decision, the appeal’s status (e.g. a Decision Review Officer is reviewing your appeal), the issues on appeal (e.g. increased rating), and a “View Status” option that will lead you to detailed information about your appeal.
On the “View Status” page, veterans can view the current status of their appeal followed by a description of what happens during the next step of the process (e.g. The Board will make a decision). On this screen, you may also select “See past events” which displays a timeline of events that have already occurred throughout your appeal process.
Below this timeline, you will see the “Current Status” of your appeal. If your appeal stage requires action, an alert box will be highlighted in yellow under this portion of the webpage. This section will describe what action must be taken in order to continue on with your appeal and the date by which it must be completed. For example, if a veteran recently received a Statement of the Case, this section will instruct the veteran to submit a VA Form 9 within 60 days of receiving it and provide the deadline.
The “What happens next?” feature will display a projected wait time for reaching the next step in the appeal process. Using the same example as mentioned above, the “What happens next?” section will show an estimate of when your case will be transferred to The Board if you do not submit new evidence with your VA Form 9. In this case, a timeline of two events will be provided because veterans are able to submit new evidence in support of their claim at this stage. If you did submit new evidence, you will subsequently receive another Statement of the Case, called a Supplemental Statement of the Case, and a new projected timeframe.
Once your appeal has been certified to the Board, you will be able to see a progress bar beneath “What happens next?” showing where your appeal is on the Board’s docket. This progress bar shows the total number of appeals on the docket, and the number of appeals ahead of you. Although you are able to see the progress of your docket number, no time estimate is provided here as the Board is not required to adhere to any deadlines.
At the top of the page, there is a tab entitled “Issues” where you are able to see what issues are currently on appeal and previous issues that have been closed whether they were granted, denied, or withdrawn. If you need assistance during any point of the appeal process, do not hesitate to contact a VA-accredited claims agent, Veteran Service Organization, or VA-accredited attorney.