By Brett of Allsup
When the word comes down for GIs to grab their “go bag” and head off for another combat deployment, they can’t tell their commanders to hang on for a few years and they’ll get to it when they can.
But that’s exactly what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is telling veterans who file for VA disability benefits. In so many words, officials are saying, “A lot of vets are applying for disability benefits, so please find a place in line and we’ll get to you when we can.”
Waiting times are awful and getting worse. The VA takes credit for greatly reducing the number of backlogged claims in recent years, but Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs disagrees. During a hearing in January, Blumenthal charged that the VA simply moved much of the initial claims backlog to the appeals stage by denying more claims that will “languish for years and years and years” in the VA system. Blumenthal added that the VA has “reduced the numbers, but simply shifted the problem.”
From our experience at Allsup, it takes about 24 months to receive a second decision after appealing your initial rating decision. Expect to wait 48 months if you live in St. Petersburg, Florida, the VA’s busiest office. If you’re denied and appeal a second time, your claim will be forwarded to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA). Then, just sit back and wait another two to three years for the appeal to be certified by the Board. Then it’s an average of 357 days for a final Board decision.
For applicants who go through the entire process, that’s a wait of more than four years to get a final decision.
There are a few things you can do to minimize your waiting time. First, make sure you have all your paperwork and documents in order and on hand. This includes your DD Form 214 or separation papers and all medical documentation, both civilian and military.
Another thing you can do is to let us know if the VA denies your claim. As a VA-accredited claim agent, I’ll do everything to help with your VA disability appeal and work to speed your claim through the system. Good luck, and thank you for your service.
Click here for a YouTube video about Matt’s experience with his VA disability benefits and help from Allsup.