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June 8, 2023

VA Development Letter Explained

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Hey there, fellow veteran! If you’re reading this, you’re probably looking for some Insider tips on VA development letters. You’ve come to the right place. This guide will give you the lowdown on VA development letters and how they affect your disability claim. 

WHAT IS A VA DEVELOPMENT LETTER

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What is a VA Development Letter?

As a veteran, you may receive a development letter from the VA while evaluating your disability claim. This formal communication requests additional information or clarification to help the VA assess and process your claim more accurately. 

The VA development letter is a tool for the VA to gather the necessary evidence and documentation to make an informed decision on your claim.

Before diving deeper into development letters, let’s quickly review the VA disability claim process. It involves these main steps:

  1. Filing a claim
  2. Initial review
  3. Gathering evidence
  4. VA’s review of evidence
  5. Preparation for a decision
  6. Pending decision approval
  7. Preparation for notification
  8. Claim is completed
  9. Appeals and revisions (if necessary)

Development letters come into play when the VA needs more information or clarification during the review process. Most of the time, if you’ve filed a fully developed claim, you won’t need to provide additional evidence; however, you may accidentally leave out something. 

When you submit a disability claim, the VA carefully reviews all the evidence and documentation you provide. However, there may be instances when the VA needs more information or clarification to make an accurate decision about your claim. This is when a development letter comes into play.

What does it mean when the VA sends a development letter?

If you receive a notification on your va.gov account that “we sent you a development letter,” you should expect to receive a VA development letter in the mail. This means the VA has identified the need for more information or documentation to continue processing your claim. However, receiving a development letter is not uncommon and doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem with your claim. It simply means the VA needs additional information to make a well-informed decision.

DEVELOPMENT LETTER VA 1

Types of Information the VA May Request in a VA Development Letter

Here are some examples of what the VA may request from you:

  • Medical records and documentation – The VA may ask for additional medical records or documentation related to your disability claim. This could include records from your treating physicians or medical facilities you’ve visited. An example is a missing diagnosis or form. 
  • Service records and discharge paperwork – The VA may request your service records and discharge paperwork to verify your military service and determine if your disability is related to your time in the service.

Responding to the development letter promptly and accurately is crucial, as this can significantly impact the outcome of your disability claim. By providing the requested information, you’re helping the VA move forward in the evaluation process and potentially speeding up the decision-making process for your claim.

The average claim takes 120-150 days to receive a decision after you first file, so promptly submitting your evidence is essential!

WOMEN VET READING DEVELOPMENT LETTER FROM VA

Getting Your VA Development Letter

You may only know you’re getting a VA development letter because you saw a notice online through your va.gov account. This notice is telling you to expect your VA development letter in the mail. 

Can I view the VA development letter online?

Although you can access many of your VA documents online, you won’t find your VA development letter on the va.gov account. However, if it’s been at least ten days since va.gov first displayed that you’re being mailed a VA development letter, you can call the VA at 800-827-1000 and request that an operator email you a copy of the letter.

How long does it take to get a VA development letter?

Sometimes you’ll be notified in the online portal that you should expect a VA development letter in the mail before this letter has been sent. It can take upwards of two weeks to receive this letter. 

What if I never received my development letter from the VA?

Sometimes things get lost in the mail, or there might be other reasons you have yet to receive your VA development letter. 

If you never received your letter, here are some potential reasons why:

  • Incorrect address on file with the VA
  • Postal service delays or errors
  • The VA sent the letter to the wrong address

If it’s been a while since you saw a notification on your va.gov account that you should expect to receive a VA development letter in the mail, and you still need to receive it, don’t panic! Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Contact the VA: Reach out to the VA by phone to check on the status of your development letter. The VA can provide information about when the letter was sent, where it was sent, and other valuable details.
  2. Request a Digital Copy: If you still need to receive your letter, call the VA at 800-827-1000 and request that an operator email you a copy. This way, you can still provide the necessary information to the VA without further delays.
  3. Update Your Address: If the VA sent your development letter to the wrong address, update your address on file with the VA to prevent this from happening again.

Remember, timely and accurate communication with the VA is crucial for a smooth disability claim process. By staying proactive and informed, you can ensure you receive the benefits you deserve.

va development letter

Responding to a VA Development Letter

The letter will give you instructions on responding with the requested information. However, remember that you don’t have to send in everything. Sometimes the VA may ask for information not related to your VA claim. 

If you need help determining what is and isn’t relevant to your claim, our expert coaches at VA Claims Insider can help.  Our coaches can provide you with the support and guidance you need to navigate the disability claim process with confidence.

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