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June 4, 2019

8 Step VA Claim Process Explained: Learn What Happens After You File Your Claim (2021)

Last updated on September 4, 2021

The purpose of this article is to explain the 8-step VA claim process in detail and provide veterans with some tips on what happens after you’ve filed a VA disability compensation claim for VA benefits.

At VA Claims Insider, a lot of Veterans want to know, “Brian, what happens after I’ve filed my VA claim?” as well as “How long does it take to get a VA rating decision?”

In general, the Veteran Service Representative (VSR) and Rating Veteran Service Representative (RVSR) will follow an 8-step VA claim process with your VA disability claim.

[NEW as of September 2021] If you file a Fully Developed Claim online at, you can expect to get a VA rating decision in about 115 calendar days.

On average in takes 115 calendar days from start to finish to get a VA disability rating decision.

WATCH: The VA Disability Claim Process Explained (Video Tutorial)

WATCH: VA Claim Process Explained!

The VA Claim Process: How Long Does a VA Claim Take in 2021?

If you submit a Fully Developed Claim (FDC) online at, which I highly recommend, you’ll likely get a VA rating decision in around 90-120 days from start to finish.

Why submit a Fully Developed Claim versus a Standard Claim?

With the VA’s Fully Developed Claims program, your VA claim will be decided faster and more accurately because YOU maintain control.

Wondering how to increase your VA rating and get a faster more accurate VA rating decision? Read this high-value blog post.

How Long Does a VA Claim Take?
How Long Does a VA Claim Take?

VA Claim Status Process Timelines

If you’re wondering “how long does a VA claim take,” this VA claim status process list with timelines is a great place to start.

As of September 2021, the average Fully Developed Claim took 115.5 days to complete and issue the veteran a VA rating decision while the average Standard Claim took 115.1 days.

Steps in the VA Disability Claim Process (Timelines After Claim Submission)

  • STEP #1: Claim Received: Normally takes between 7 and 14 days
  • STEP #2: Under Review: This step typically takes 7 to 21 days
  • STEP #3: Gathering of Evidence: This step is the longest phase in the VA claim process and usually takes 30-60 days
  • STEP #4: Review of Evidence: Takes 7 to 14 days on average
  • STEP #5: Preparation for Decision: This step typically takes 7-14 days to complete
  • STEP #6: Pending Decision Approval: 7 to 14 days
  • STEP #7: Preparation for Notification: 7 to 14 days
  • STEP #8: Decision Notification Sent: The final step in the VA claim process takes 7-10 days

If you submit a Fully Developed Claim (FDC), which we highly recommend at VA Claims Insider, you’ll likely get a VA rating decision in around 90-120 days from start to finish.

And the best news?

The VA is getting faster–a lot faster.

Fully Developed Claim versus Standard Claim
Fully Developed Claim versus Standard Claim Timeline

Average VA Disability Claim Processing Time in 2021

  • As of March 2021, the average Fully Developed Claim (FDC) took 118.4 days from start to finish. COVID has caused some delays. The VA is also updating various DBQs and has delayed some C&P exams.
  • As of December 2020, the average Fully Developed Claim (FDC) took 117.8 days from start to finish. There has been some delays due to COVID-19.
  • As of July 2020, it took the VA an average of 93.6 days to complete a VA claim. There has been a slight slowdown in VA claims processing due to COVID-19.
  • As of March 2020, it took the VA an average of 79.9 days to complete a VA disability claim from start to finish. 
  • In October 2019, it took the VA an average of 94.3 days to complete disability related compensation claims.
  • In October 2018, one year earlier, the average VA claim took 141.2 days from start to finish.
  • This means VA claim adjudicators shaved an average of 46.9 days OFF the total VA claim processing time in one year!

Do NOT submit a Standard Claim unless you have to…

If you need help with your VA disability claim, VA disability increase claim, secondary VA claims, service connection, you’ve been denied VA benefits, or you think you deserve a higher VA disability rating, please complete the free 3-step intake below.

==> VA Claims Insider Elite: 

STEP #1: VA Claim Submitted and Received Phase (Claim Received)

Step 1 Claim Received
Claim Received

In Step 1, the VA will let you know they’ve received your disability claim.

If you file your disability claim online, you’ll get an on-screen message from the VA after you submit the online application.

If you mail your application, the VA will send you a letter to let you know they’ve received your claim.

You should get this letter in 1-2 weeks. It should show-up in eBenefits within 7-14 days.

Any questions, please call the VA hotline phone number at 1-800-827-1000 and speak to a VA representative.

This step normally takes around 7-14 days.

STEP #2: VA Initial Review Phase (Under Review)

In Step 2 of the VA claim process, a Veteran Service Representative (VSR) will review your claim.

Step 2 Under Review
Under Review

It’ll move to Step 3 if the VA doesn’t need any more evidence to support it.

This is unlikely unless you submit a Fully Developed Claim, which is highly recommended.

Do NOT submit a standard claim…unless you have to.

This step normally takes around 7-21 business days.

STEP #3: VA Gathering of Evidence Phase (Gathering of Evidence)

Step 3 Gathering of Evidence
Gather of Evidence

In Step 3, the VSR will do three things:

  • Ask for evidence from you, health care providers, governmental agencies, or others
  • Review the evidence
  • Move the claim to an RVSR for decision

****If the VA needs more evidence during this phase, your claim may return to this step more than once. This is very common to see your VA claim move back and forth between phases. No need to worry!

This step normally takes around 30-60 business days.

STEP #4: VA Review of Evidence Phase (Review of Evidence)

Step 4 Review of Evidence
Review of Evidence

In Step 4, all required evidence has been received and is now being reviewed by the VSR assigned to your claim.

If upon further review it is determined that additional evidence is required the claim will be sent back to Step 3.

Don’t worry! This is a very normal part of the VA claim process.

This step typically takes around 7-14 business days.

STEP #5: VA Preparation for Decision Phase (Preparation for Decision)

Step 5 Preparation for Decision
Preparation for Decision

In Step 5 of the VA claim process, your entire VA disability claim file gets sent to the RVSR.

The RVSR will review your entire claim application, medical records, supporting documents, personal statements, buddy letters, any other supporting information, and C&P exam results to make a decision on your VA disability claim.

The RVSR then recommends a decision and begins the process of preparing the necessary documents to detail the decision they have made.

This step normally takes 7-14 business days.

STEP #6: Pending Decision Approval Phase (Pending Decision Approval)

Step 6 Pending Decision Approval
Pending Decision Approval

In Step 6, the RVSR’s decision recommendation documents are reviewed, and a final award approval on your claim is made.

Usually sent to a second tier reviewing authority for final approval.

This step typically takes 7-14 business days.

Step #7: Preparation for Notification Phase (Preparation for Notification)

Step 7 Preparation for Notification
Preparation for Notification

Your VA Disability Claim decision packet, in its entirety, is now prepared to be mailed to you.

This step usually takes around 7-14 business days.

Step #8: Decision Notification Sent Phase (Decision Notification Sent)

The final step of the VA claim process is where the VA will send you a packet by U.S. mail that includes details of the decision on your claim.

Step 8 Decision Notification Sent
Decision Notification Sent

You should receive this in 7 to 10 business days.

You can always call 1-800-827-1000 and ask to speak to a VA representative about your VA disability claim status.

Deserve a HIGHER VA Rating? WE CAN HELP.

Join our premier education-based membership program, VA Claims Insider Elite, connect with an expert-level Veteran Coach (VC) within minutes, and finally get the rating you deserve. Click the button below to start for FREE.

About the Author

Brian Reese
Brian Reese

Brian Reese

Founder & CEO

Brian Reese is VA benefits expert, author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller You Deserve It: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Veteran Benefits You’ve Earned, and founder of VA Claims Insider – “The Most Trusted Name in Education-Based Resources for Veterans.”

His frustration with the 8-step VA disability claims process led him to create “VA Claims Insider,” which provides U.S. military veterans with tips, strategies, and lessons learned for successfully submitting or re-submitting a winning VA disability compensation claim.

Brian is also the CEO of Military Disability Made Easy, which is the world’s largest free searchable database for all things related to DoD disability and VA disability claims and has served more than 4,600,000 military members and veterans since its founding in 2013.

His eBook, the “9 Secrets Strategies for Winning Your VA Disability Claim” has been downloaded more than 300,000 times in the past three years and is the #1 rated free VA disability claims guide for veterans.

He is a former active duty Air Force officer with extensive experience leading hundreds of individuals and multi-functional teams in challenging international environments, including a combat tour to Afghanistan in 2011 supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

Brian is a Distinguished Graduate of Management from the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO and he holds an MBA from Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business, Stillwater, OK, where he was a National Honor Scholar (Top 1% of Graduate School class).

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This means you do NOT currently have the VA disability rating and compensation YOU deserve, and you could be missing out on thousands of dollars of tax-free compensation and benefits each month.

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