You may have heard in recent months that the wait time for Veterans benefits claims has decreased – but many have had claims pending for months or even years. So which is it?
Well, for one, the astounding ‘decrease’ only applies to new applicants – not those who have claims on appeal. VA has also instituted some new programs in the last few years in order to make initial claim processing faster. One of these is the Fully Developed Claim program, which allows claimants to submit all of their evidence at once, certify that there is no additional evidence, and thereby in theory throw the ball into VA’s court for a faster decision.
This is not always the best course of action, however, as VA has a Duty to Assist claimants in developing their claims, and many claimants need that assistance in locating service records and medical records and obtaining a medical exam before there would be enough evidence for VA to issue a favorable decision.
VA also has a few other fast track programs, including for Agent Orange claims and claims filed by Veterans who are homeless or in grave need of financial assistance.
The VA says they used to have 600,000 cases backlogged, meaning having been waiting more than 125 days. Now they are reporting only 73, 000 cases that have met or are over that 125 day limit. But, as a reminder that is just new applicants. While there might only be roughly 73, 000 new applicants, there are still over 400, 000 claims waiting on appeal. This means that there are roughly 500,000 claims pending.
If VA has denied your claim, call Levine-Piro Law at 978-637-2048 to schedule your consultation. A certified Veterans law attorney can assist you in developing the evidence in your case, strengthening your claims, whether for service connection, increased ratings, or earlier effective dates.