VA disability benefits can be difficult, but knowing how to check your VA claim status and monitor the status of your claim or appeal might bring some relief.
How To Check the Status of a VA Claim
To check their VA claims status, most Veterans choose to go on to the VA website and sign in using their DS Login. Clicking "What Happens Next?" lets you see how long it will take to get to the next step in the process.
However, a claimant can also obtain up-to-date information on the status of his or her claim in multiple other ways:
Veteran Service Organization (VSO)
The VSO that submitted your claim with the VA can be contacted at any time. Veterans Service Organizations may provide their clients with the status of their VA claims or appeals.
VA National Claim and Benefits Center
To get a status update from the VA, call the VA National Claim and Benefits Information Call Center at (800) 827-1000 and provide your identifying information. This can sometimes be helpful, but sometimes, in our experience, the information obtained from the hotline may be general in nature.
VA Regional Office
The public service desk of your local VA Regional Office is open to the general public. The VA website has a location finder if you don't know where your regional VA office is located. To discover the regional office nearest to you, enter your city, state, or zip code into the box provided.
Once there, a person at the service desk can assist you if you have a photo ID and your social security number or VA file number readily available to them on request.
You may register online at https://www.ebenefits.va.gov. You should note though, that the eBenefits service is provided by a third-party vendor under contract with the VA. As such, it may not always be in sync with your up-to-date details.
Stages of Disability Claims
Your case may be resolved sooner rather than later if you are aware of the various steps of claim evaluation and how they work.
- The inquiry stage: the VA has received your claim.
- Awaiting final approval: currently, a Veterans Service Representative is examining the claim to see whether more proof is required to support it.
- Evidence gathering: the right sources are being used to gather any essential proof.
- An examination of the evidence: the VA has received all the relevant evidence and is now reviewing it.
- Decision-making preparation: they've reached a final determination and are working on documentation to explain it.
- A final decision: an official decision has been made by the Veterans Affairs Representative.
- Notification preparations: for mailing purposes, the VA is putting together information concerning your decision.
- Completion stage: you receive the verdict in the mail.
Submitting Additional Information for VA Claims
The VA may contact you on your claim for a variety of reasons. The last four digits of your social security number are sometimes all that is required to authenticate your identity. However, your claim number may also be required, as well as your branch of service.
Veterans are often contacted over the phone when they are required to conduct a clinical test. Make sure you know exactly which hospital or clinic you need to go to for the diagnostic test.
In some cases, your Regional Office may submit your claim to another regional office with more specialized expertise. Your claim number and the "reference number" are both important to include in your communications to the VA, so be sure to include both of these numbers in your correspondence.
What Can You Do If Your Claim Was Rejected?
There are three options available if the claim is rejected:
- 1. File an Appeal
Under the Appeals Modernization Act or AMA, you have one year to file an appeal following VA’s initial denial of your VA compensation claim. You can either file for a Higher Level Review (sometimes called High-Level Review), a Supplemental Claim, or a Direct Appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA).
At this stage, it is advisable to consult with an attorney. Knowing which appeal option to choose can be complex, and multiple strategic factors should be considered. Generally speaking, filing an appeal within one year of the VA denial is the best choice, and it is the option that will preserve your original retroactive effective date for VA benefits, thereby maximizing the amount of retroactive back pay you can receive.
- 2. File a New After the Expiration of the One-Year Period.
In other words, let the original claim lapse and just file a brand new claim. Frankly, this is a poor option and should not be intentionally chosen under virtually all circumstances. If you choose this option, you will be forfeiting potential back pay and resigning yourself to a later effective date.
In our experience, many non-attorney representatives choose this option because they believe appeals take too long. So, by choosing this option, you are hoping that a new claim will be granted faster than an appeal. However, what usually happens is that a veteran receives a quick denial on the new claim. Even if the new claim was granted, the veteran will receive less retroactive pay. Therefore, filing a timely appeal is usually the best option.
- 3. File a Case with the US Court of Veterans' Appeals
If you take your case all the way to the Board of Veterans Appeals and get denied, what should you do? You can take your case to the US Court of Veterans' Appeals. There is an appeals process if you are unable to resolve your issue with the BVA. The purpose of this federal appeals court is to see if a mistake was made in the decision at the BVA.
Veterans Disability Info Has the Answers You Need
At Veterans Disability Info, we may be able to help you document your impairment, demonstrate a link to service, and obtain VA disability benefits you deserve. To get a toll-free, no-obligation consultation, please call us immediately at (888) 878-9350.
Our team is here to support you because we understand the sacrifices you've made while serving our country and the long-term effects that military duty may have on your physical and emotional well-being.