The length of the VA appeals process can vary tremendously based on many factors. You can control certain aspects of the process by submitting evidence and filing your paperwork on time or even before the deadline if possible. Other parts of the process are up to the VA, and unfortunately, the VA does not have to abide by any deadlines so all you can do is be patient while you wait for the next step.
The Average Length of the Appeals Process
The average appeals processing time for appeals resolved in the 2015 fiscal year was 3.1 years. For appeals that go up to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA), you can expect to wait at least 5 years from the date of initial filing until the Board issues a decision..
According the BVA 2015 annual report, here’s how long each phase the appeals process takes on average:
- it takes 419 days from when the Veteran submits the Notice of Disagreement until a Statement of the Case is issued;
- it takes an additional 537 days for the Veteran to file a substantive appeal and have any Supplemental Statement of the Cases issued;
- it takes 222 days for the appeal to be certified to go to the BVA; and
- it takes 270 days for the BVA to issue a final decision on the appeal.
However, these are simply average wait times, so you may experience shorter or longer wait times. The important thing to note is that there are some parts of the process that you can speed up by acting quickly.
First, submit all of your evidence at once. You can submit all of your evidence when you file your initial claim. Even better, file a Fully Developed Claim and certify that you have notified the VA of all available evidence. This will prevent the VA from having to conduct an extensive search for your records and other evidence.
If you need to file new evidence on your appeal, file it all when you submit your Notice of Disagreement (NOD). Once you have filed a substantive appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals with your VA Form 9, each new round of evidence you submit requires an additional review and a new Supplemental Statement of the Case (SSOC).
Second, you should make all filings promptly. You have a year to file your NOD once you receive your rating decision letter, but that does not mean you have to wait that long to file it. Contact a veterans attorney as quickly as possible, and get the ball rolling on your appeal. You should also be prompt about all other filings required during the appeal process.
Finally, be patient. Sometimes you will have to submit new evidence, which can result in a delay for your appeal. For example, your disability may worsen during the appeals process, and you may need to submit new medical evidence to support a higher rating for your disability. It is better to submit the proper evidence, and wait a little longer, than to have your case decided without this important evidence. If the evidence is relevant and supportive, it’s worth the additional time to submit it and thus increase your chances of getting the correct rating the first time around.
Talk to an experienced veterans law practitioner to learn more about the appeals process. Our veterans lawyers have helped thousands of veterans with their VA disability compensation appeals. Contact us for a no-cost consultation.