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January 12, 2022

What is the VA Fully Developed Claim Timeline 2022? Here’s 10 Factors That Can Delay Your VA Claim

Today, we will explore the VA Fully Developed Claim Timeline 2022 in-detail, as well as the factors that can affect how long it takes the VA to issue a rating decision on your claim.

After you’ve filed for disability benefits, it’s natural to wonder: “How long does a VA claim take?”

The answer depends on whether you’ve submitted a VA Fully Developed Claim (FDC) or a Standard Claim (Non-FDC), as well as a variety of other factors we deep-dive below.

The VA publishes its claims processing timelines, and in general, you can expect to receive a VA rating decision within 90 to 120 calendar days (3-4 months) from beginning to end.  

However, VA disability claim decision timelines can vary drastically—from just a few days to two years or more.

Why is that?

Well, there are a variety of factors that can impact the VA disability claim timeline, so let’s take a minute to explore them thoroughly.

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What Factors Impact How Long a VA Claim Takes?

What Factors Impact How Long a VA Claim Takes

There are several factors that can impact how long it takes the VA to process your claim, including:

  • Initial claims typically take longer because a Claims Assistant at the VA must request your Service Treatment Records (STRs) and your personnel file.
  • The total number of disability conditions you’ve filed for. The more conditions you file for, the longer your claim will take for a rating decision.
  • Whether you filed a VA Fully Developed Claim (FDC) or a Standard Claim (Non-FDC). Standard Claims requirement further development by a Veteran Service Representative (VSR) such as obtaining private treatment records, personnel records, etc.
  • The adequacy and completeness of your medical evidence for VA rating purposes. If the medical evidence isn’t clear, a VSR is required to perform further claim development, which can delay your claim.
  • How soon you are contacted and scheduled for Compensation and Pension (C&P) exams. Also, some disability conditions require an in-person examination, whereas others can be done virtually via telehealth or via records review only – called an ACE Exam.
  • If your C&P exam results are adequate for rating purposes. For example, if the VA Rater needs to go back to the examiner for their rational or if the examiner failed to complete the DBQ correctly.
  • The VA Claims Backlog, which can affect how soon a VA Rater gets assigned to your case.
  • If you have submitted a “specialty” VA claim that can only be worked at certain Regional Offices. For example, claims for Burn Pit Exposure, Radiation Exposure, and Contaminated Water.
  • If your claim is picked up for “Quality Review” by the VA. Every Veteran Service Representative (VSR) and Rating Veteran Service Representative (RVSR) has five VA claims per month randomly pulled for a quality review assessment.

What Evidence Do I Need to Submit to Get My VA Disability Claim Approved?

How to Prove VA Claim

To get your VA claim approved, you need to prove three essential elements:

  • #1. Medical diagnosis of a disability condition (this can be in Service Treatment Records (STRs), VA medical records, OR any private records, but it needs to be in a medical record somewhere). It does help to have a “current” medical diagnosis within the past 12 months, although it’s not required.
  • #2. Your disability condition was caused or made worse by your ACTIVE-DUTY military service (“Nexus”) OR it’s proximately due to or aggravated by ANOTHER service-connected disability rated at 0% or higher for secondary service connection.
  • #3. Current symptoms of the disability condition, which we call “Severity of Symptoms.” How severe are your symptoms and how is your disability condition negatively impacting your work, life, and social functioning?

#1. Medical Diagnosis

Do I need a medical diagnosis for VA disability

First, you MUST have a medical diagnosis of a disability condition in a medical record.

The medical diagnosis does NOT need to be in your Service Treatment Records (STRs), but it must be somewhere, in either VA medical records or private treatment records.

If you think you have a disability condition, but don’t yet have it medical diagnosed, GET YOUR BUTT TO THE DOCTOR!

Without a medical diagnosis, you’re dead-in-the-water, and your VA disability claim will be denied.

The #1 best way to prove you have a medical diagnosis of a disability is to upload medical records (this can be in VA medical records or private treatment records) showing a current medical diagnosis in support of your VA Fully Developed Claim.

#2. Nexus for Service Connection

Nexus for Service Connection

Second, you must be able to prove to the VA that your disability condition (if medically diagnosed) was caused or made worse by your active-duty military service (this is the “Nexus,” which means link or connection) OR it’s proximately due to or aggravated by ANOTHER service-connected disability rated at 0% or higher for secondary service connection.

The #1 best way to prove service connection to the VA is to get an Independent Medical Opinion, aka, Medical Nexus Letter from a private healthcare provider.

If you’ve ever logged into your eBenefits account, clicked the “Disabilities” tab on the left-hand side of the screen, and seen various disability conditions that say, “Not Service Connected,” the VA denied service connection.

The VA is telling you they couldn’t find a “Nexus” for service-connection on at “at least as likely as not” basis, which is a required element by law to be eligible for VA disability benefits.

Guess what veterans?

The VA makes mistakes every day, all day, and they’re trying to help you, but you’ve got to help them, too!

#3. Severity of Symptoms

Severity of Symptoms

Third, your final VA rating percentage for a particular disability comes down to your “Severity of Symptoms.”

Generally, the more severe your symptoms, the higher the VA rating percentage you’ll receive for that disability.

You can see what I mean by paying close attention to the symptoms and keywords tied to various VA disability rating percentages in 38 CFR, Part 4, Schedule for Rating Disabilities.

When writing your personal statements and buddy letters, you want to explain in plain English your current symptoms of the disability condition into the present day, aka, “Severity of Symptoms.”

The #1 best way to prove your current severity of symptoms is to write a personal statement in support of your claim and don’t hold anything back – you’ve got to tell the VA how you are on your very worst days. Medical evidence (with symptoms clearly documented) and Buddy Letters are very helpful, too.

Specifically, you need to talk about how your disability condition is limiting/affecting your work, life, and social functioning.

Okay, now that you know about the essential elements for your VA claim, let’s jump into the VA fully developed claim timeline this year.

What is the VA Disability Claim Timeline?

What is the VA Disability Claim Timeline

If you submit a VA Fully Developed Claim (FDC) in 2022—meaning—all the evidence is uploaded in support of your claim, you’ll likely get a claim decision in 90-120 days (3-4 months) from submission to award.  

Filing a VA Fully Developed Claim (FDC) online at VA.gov is preferred over a Standard Claim (Non-FDC).

Why?

Two things:

#1. You maintain control of your claim and the evidence submitted to the VA, AND

#2. Your claim will be decided faster and more accurately because the VA doesn’t need to look elsewhere for medical evidence or personnel records because you’ve already uploaded everything in support of your claim.

What is the VA Fully Developed Claim Timeline 2022?

VA Fully Developed Claim Timeline 2022

If you file a Fully Developed Claim online, which we highly recommend, the VA will follow an 8 step process to review and rate your claim:

  • STEP #1: Claim Received: 7 to 14 days
  • STEP #2: Under Review: 7 to 21 days
  • STEP #3: Gathering of Evidence: 30 to 60 days
  • STEP #4: Review of Evidence: 7 to 14 days
  • STEP #5: Preparation for Decision: 7 to 14 days
  • STEP #6: Pending Decision Approval: 7 to 14 days
  • STEP #7: Preparation for Notification: 7 to 14 days
  • STEP #8: Decision Notification Sent: 7 to 10 days

How Long Does a VA Disability Claim Take?

How Long Does a VA Claim Take

If you submit a Fully Developed Claim (FDC)—meaning—all the evidence is uploaded in support of your claim, you’ll likely get a VA rating decision in 3-4 months from start to finish.

However, VA claim decision timelines vary wildly from a few days to two years or more.

You should also be aware of the current VA claims backlog, which can affect how soon you’ll get a VA rating decision.

For example, the total number of pending claims has reached 630,000+, which is the highest number since early 2014 whereas the total number of backlogged claims just hit 260,000+, which is the highest number since early 2015.

VA Claims Backlog

What is the Timeline From C&P Exam to Decision 2022?

In 2022, you can expect to receive a VA rating decision within 4 to 6 weeks after your last C&P exam.

If it’s been longer than 6 weeks, pick up the phone, call the VA hotline, and ask to speak to a VA representative at 1-800-827-1000.

VA Hotline at 1 800 827 1000

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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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