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How Long Does It Take for VA to Review Evidence?

Faqs veterans law how long does it take for va to review evidence

If your VA benefits claim status is “A reviewer is examining your new evidence,” then you are in the most time-consuming stage of the claims process, “evidence gathering, review and decision.”

The amount of time that VA requires for “evidence gathering, review, and decision” depends on the type of evidence you include and how it relates to your claim or appeal.

This blog will summarize the VA disability claims timeline, CCK’s insights about the evidence gathering stage, and strategies for accelerating your claim.

Who We Are: Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick is the leading veterans law firm in the US. Over the last 25 years, CCK has argued many of the cases that have shaped veterans law. As an appellate firm, we have secured more than $1 billion in wrongfully denied disability benefits for our clients.

Understanding the VA Claims Timeline

VA describes the stages of a claim as follows:

  • Claim received: We received your claim. We haven’t assigned the claim to a reviewer yet.
  • Initial review: We assigned your claim to a reviewer. The reviewer will determine if we need any more information from you.
  • Evidence gathering, review, and decision: We’re getting evidence from you, your healthcare providers, government agencies, and other sources. We’ll review the evidence and make a decision.
  • Preparation for notification: We’ve made a decision on your claim. We’re getting your decision letter ready to mail to you.
  • Complete: We’ve sent you a decision letter by U.S. mail. This letter includes details about how we made the decision on your claim.

At the time of writing, the average number of days required for VA to complete all stages is 147.2 days, but VA’s average time varies significantly. The three biggest factors affecting length are:

  • What type of claim the veteran submits
  • The number of injuries or disabilities the veteran is claiming and how complex they are
  • How long it will take VA to collect the necessary evidence to make a decision

Many of these factors directly impact the “Evidence Gathering, Review, and Decision” stage.

The Evidence Gathering, Review, and Decision Phase

What Happens When VA is Gathering Evidence in the VA Claim Process?

During the evidence gathering, review, and decision phase of the claims process, the Veterans Service Representative will likely do three things:

  • Ask for evidence from the veteran, health care providers, governmental agencies, and others
  • Review the evidence
  • Make a decision

If VA realizes it needs additional evidence during the review, then the veteran’s claim may return to this step more than once prior to moving on. (This is one reason the length of the evidence gathering, review, and decision stage is so hard to estimate.)

After VA believes that all the necessary evidence, such as the veteran’s military records, has been received, it will be reviewed by the VA adjudicator assigned to the veteran’s case. In total, this stage may take anywhere from 3-6 months—sometimes more or less time depending on the details of the case.

During this time, the VA adjudicator will review the veteran’s entire VA disability claim file, including the initial claim application, medical records, supporting documents and information, and Compensation & Pension (C&P) exam results.

After the VA adjudicator’s decision recommendation documents are finalized, the documents are typically sent to a second-tier reviewing authority for the ultimate approval.

Are There Ways to Speed Up VA’s Evidence Gathering, Review, and Decision Phase?

Making Your VA Claim Move Faster: How to Expedite Veterans Benefits

General Tips for the Evidence Review Stage

  • VA has a “duty to assist” you in gathering the necessary evidence for your claim. If you include as much of the relevant evidence as possible, VA does not need to take time to obtain that evidence on your behalf.
  • Similarly, if you did not include all the necessary evidence, then your claim might need to stay in or revisit the evidence gathering phase multiple times. VA will only make a decision on your claim when it believes it has all the required evidence.

How to Get Your VA Claim Expedited as “Priority”

There are several specific situations in which veterans may be eligible to have their disability compensation claims and appeals officially expedited as “priority”:

  • Extreme Financial Hardship or Homelessness: Veterans can request to expedite a VA disability claim if they are experiencing extreme financial hardship or if they are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless.
  • Advanced Age: If a veteran is over a certain age, he or she can request to have a claim expedited. The age requirement for expediting a veteran’s claim or appeal is different at the Regional Office level and the Board level. Specifically, at the Regional Office, a veteran must be 85 years of age or older whereas at the Board, a veteran must be 75 years of age or older.
  • Terminal Illness: VA is instructed to prioritize claims in which the veteran is terminally ill. Veterans must submit evidence of a terminal illness for VA to expedite the claim.
  • As well as several other rare situations like a diagnosis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease), illness or injury that ended military service, former prisoners of war, and Medal of Honor or Purple Heart recipients.

VA employees are instructed to handle “priority” claims before “non-priority” claims, but unfortunately, there is no way to predict how much faster a claim will be decided when it is expedited. Expedited claims still enter a queue of other expedited claims, meaning veterans will still have to wait in a line.

When to Call Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD

If VA denies your claim or gives you an unfair disability rating, you have likely experienced significant delays already, and an appeal may only increase the time that you have been waiting. An experienced, VA-accredited advocate may give you your best chance of maximizing your benefits in the most efficient way possible.

Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick is the leading veterans law firm, with tens of thousands of appeals and over one billion dollars recovered. Call us today at (800) 544-9144 today for a free case evaluation with a member of our team. We’ve helped many disabled veterans and may be able to help you too.