The Fully Developed Claims (FDC) program is an optional way to file your claim for disability compensation, pension, and survivor benefits. A veteran can opt to file a fully developed claim when he or she has all the evidence they would like VA to consider when deciding the claim. Upon submitting the claim, the veteran certifies that there is no additional evidence needed, thus enabling VA to make a decision more quickly.
The FDC process differs from filing a traditional claim in the way in which evidence is developed and acquired. In the traditional claims process, a veteran files a claim which triggers a development process so VA can gather the required information to decide the claim. This can add significant delays to a veteran receiving a decision. However, since an FDC is submitted with the evidence needed for the claim, VA does not have to do the additional development, and can issue a decision sooner than if they had to go obtain the evidence.
Why You May Want to File a Fully Developed Claim
An FDC requires that you to do the development work of gathering evidence to support claim, a task that traditionally falls to VA. However, for veterans who are concerned about long processing times for their claims, filing an FDC may be the best option.
The FDC allows the veteran to control the evidence gathering part of the claims process. The veteran gathers all evidence, including military records and medical records, and certifies that they are submitting all of their evidence at once.
You may be concerned that you will forget to submit a piece of evidence, but the FDC program is risk-free. If VA determines that there is more evidence required, your claim will be changed to a traditional claim. VA will notify the veteran that his or her claim cannot be processed as an FDC. This can add delays to a claim, but it is better that a decision be made with all evidence rather than without.
What Kind of Claims Can You File as FDC?
Veterans can file multiple kinds of claims in the FDC program, including claims for disability compensation, pension, claims to reopen a claim, claims for secondary service connection, and claims for Total Disability Based on Individual Unemployability (TDIU).
How to File a Fully Developed Claim
VA has provided a checklist to follow when filing your FDC, which you can find here.
You begin by logging into your eBenefits account and initiating your claim for disability compensation. You have a year from the day you initiated your claim to formally submit your claim. VA will not process your claim until you submit it.
You will then need to tell VA about your federal records including military medical and personnel records, and any relevant records from another federal agency, such as Social Security. You will then gather your non-federal records, such as private medical records.
VA has also stated that getting your medical provider to fill out your Disability Benefits Questionnaire will further speed up the process. This is not a required part of filing an FDC, but if you have the ability to do it, go ahead.
You will then need to select what type of claim you are filing, whether it is an original claim, claim for increased disability, or another type of claim. Each of these claims have different evidence requirements, so be sure to look at what is needed before you submit your claim.
Once you have uploaded all of your documents, verified that you have “No More Evidence,” and clicked “Submit”, you have successfully completed your FDC.
If after filing your FDC you received an unfavorable decision in whole or in part from VA, get help from Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD. Our veterans attorneys have helped thousands of veterans through the appeals process. Call us today at 401-331-6300 for a free case evaluation.