Claims appeals: Why they take forever

On June 18, the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs held a hearing to find answers as to why the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) appeal process for veterans’ benefits takes so long to complete.

According to a fiscal year 2012 report from VA’s Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA), it takes about 900 days from the time an appeal is filed to when a final decision is reached. The claims appeals of more than 45,000 veterans are currently pending at BVA.

The American Legion, which has 2,500 accredited service officers nationwide and about a dozen full-time national appeals representatives in Washington, submitted a statement for the record. From Jan. 1, 2010 to June 1, 2013, the Legion’s appeals representatives have represented 29,542 veterans and their dependents who were trying to get benefits claims from BVA. The Legion effectively demonstrated that VA had erred, or failed to fully develop a claim, in 21,632 (nearly 75 percent) of those cases.

On June 3, VA reported an accuracy rate of 89.6 percent for claims adjudicated over the previous three months. Yet, the Legion’s statistics indicate that VA regional offices (VAROs) are providing quality decisions in less than one-fourth of the claims processed. Admittedly, claims handled by the BVA are only a portion of those submitted. However, they are a sampling of work that reflects the quality of claims decisions at 56 VAROs nationwide.

Unquestionably, the appeals process proves to be time-consuming and frustrating for our veterans. By the time BVA renders a decision, a claimant will often have spent several years in the appeals process.

About half the claims submitted to BVA are remanded to the Appeals Management Center (AMC), with clear instructions on how the claim should be further developed. Once that has been done, AMC makes its decision. If a veteran decides to appeal a denial, the claim automatically goes back to BVA for more review. This is where the Legion’s appeals representatives get involved again; they review more evidence, put together presentations for informal hearings and resubmit the appeal to BVA.

Unfortunately – despite clear instructions from BVA – the Legion’s representatives frequently argue successfully that AMC failed to comply with those instructions, resulting in another remand and delay of a decision for the veteran. The Legion stated that VA insiders "familiar with this process of repeated remands for the same claim refer to this endless cycle as the ‘perpetual remand wheel,’ where a claimant has to endure even more months, and often years, of claim development prior to receiving a final decision from BVA."

If veterans decide to appeal BVA’s final decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, they may be in for another very long wait.

"VA has a daunting challenge forecasted for their future," The American Legion stated, referring to Secretary Eric Shinseki’s 2015 goal of processing all claims within 125 days at 98 percent accuracy. "It is clearly evident VA needs to vastly improve its adjudication accuracy to meet the Secretary’s objective."

The Legion concluded its statement with an answer to the hearing’s question: "Resolving the time frame that a claims waits in appeal status is largely connected with the manner VA originally adjudicates claims." If VA properly develops claims and renders decisions based existing laws and regulations, "then logic would dictate that fewer appeals would occur, thereby reducing the backlog of appeals.

"Additionally, if AMC staff would adhere to the remand instructions prepared by BVA, fewer cases of multiple-remanded claims for development would need to occur."







  1. My Remanded Appeal has been in Limbo for 6 years now, they keep telling me that its Ready to Rate, but alas no SSOC as yet.
  2. The VA should be required to reveal the status of any claim from BVA Hearing and through the Remand process My claim for increased disability (Vietnam Service on land, twice) has ben in in Remand for 1-1/2 years, and two years since BVA Hearing in Washington, DC on August 11, 2014. No one at vA regional office in Buffalo, NY is required to provide the status of the claim, just that the claim is still in process between AMC in Wash., DC & Buffalo, NY Regional office. It is like being on Hamster Wheel/ in a Black Magic Box. This situation & the VA's attitude is disgraceful.
  3. I served in iraq, i have been fighting my case since 2008, from different injuries to include PTSD. VA tells none of my injuries occurred because of my service in the marines. VA really sucks. Still in appeal process after 3 denials.
  4. Wow, I can not believe this. I was shot by Marines with an ak47 while socializing with some friends at a restaurant in San Diego. My friend and 3 others were also shot. I still have pain from this injury. I also remember seeing that guy who died in my dreams. And they have denied me for PTSD. I've been since 2014. Originally applied in 2013. I've been optimistic but after reading the comments I now feel like there is nope hope...
  5. I went to the BVA in Dec. 2016, I have severe PTSD and was told, "That because the event happened on base, during INACDUTRA, I won't get the claim", it was denied. I was on duty, but on a weekend drill...They didn't deny that it happened, but won't get any compensation for it. I have several other things that are in the same claim, and was awarded them, but STILL waiting for the rating and compensation to come through...hope that helps.
  6. My Dav is the worst he never calls me, I always have to reach out to him, he always puts me on hold and never calls back, the life of a veteran. any suggestions would be appreciated?
  7. My Claim has been in since 2007 for ptsd my ship carshed into an oil tanker and almost sunk. most of my other shipmates are at 100% I'm only at 10% case currently on appeal the va sucks.
  8. I have a Purple Heart from Afghanistan and got denied PTSD! Enough said! This is a sick and crue. Wrong way to treat the veterans of the US! Government, PLEASE IMPROVE!!!!! Sincerly, next suicide VET.
  9. Daniel, You need to call a support line or talk to someone from your unit that can assist you. If you're feeling suicidal.
  10. First of all I want to thank you tha men n women for there service for protecting our country it's a shame for our veterans have to go through so much to get there benefits what is due to them they should receive top priority with whatever they needs are tha claim department should hire enough people to get these veterans claims done!!WORK THA CLAIMS N GIVE THE VETERANS THERE BENEFITS THEY DESERVE TOP Priority THANK YOU
  11. the social security admin is maybe 10x the size of the va but they get thier money right away even faster if you are a refugee but these vet groups are in bed with va the congress wont fix it but they will name buildings after the fallen but do nothing for the living
  12. Much more needs to be done in the processing of VA claims and the process of notifying veterans and their families of benefits. My late husband was a wheelchair, quadriplegic and was told all death costs would be paid. Annually he received a report of benefits, however upon his death VA only paid a small portion of his burial cost, after affirming to him for more than 40 years all his death and burial cost would be paid. We as his survivors have been appealing his 2012 and although we have been told review was forthcoming, still after three years nothing has occurred. Someone needs to help other veterans and their families from having to go through what our family has endured. Congressional and Senatorial members have tried to help but nothing still.
  13. It's all in their plan, because they don't want to pay. In my opinion congress talks out of both side of their mouths. They want us veterans to think they are helping us with their investigations and committee meetings, good politics, but I think in reality they have made it clear to the VA to pay out as little as possible by stalling and keep claims and appeals on the hamster wheel, lying and denying. Whatever it takes!
  14. i was first diagnosed with one herniated disk but it went untreated for twenty years now i hav 3 bad disks with nerve damage in my back and in my legs. It is going on two years im not understanding why u can get hurt so easily in the military but so long to get compensated I am expected nto continue to go to work on a daily basis despitite the constant pain i am in
  15. this is what the v.a. do delay deny until you DIE...then they don't have to deal with it any more
  16. 3 years and waiting,it is now at AMC,god only knows, if myou are a relative here @fort harrison!!! 90 days and its done=== hooray for nepotism and allllllll jp
  18. Originally applied in 2000 when Dr's said I was never to return to work following a major surgery,never heard anything back from VA, begged my Dr to allow me to return to work as my family had lost everything due to me not being able to work, Applied again in 2010 and was given a 10% which has been taken to pay back my retirement from the US ARMY, took the Clinton's early out and I am awaiting my appeal as of 12/16/2013. What is the usual time frame for the Appeal Pending????
  19. Well it is 2016 and I am still waiting on the VA Appeal Process, Hopefully it it be completed before I die... This is the worst system I believe I have ever come across. I pray that all War Time Veterans like myself are not getting the run around that I have...What a SHAME that our Government has been allowed to let this continue as it has, but then again they are getting their pay so what do they care...........
  20. Sorry to say JT, I have been waiting over 7 years. Plenty of evidence to make a decision, yet it sits.
  21. They do take forever, I have been waiting since 2009, not as long as D; however a very long time now. Everytime I call for a followup, they just tell me that they are working on it.
  22. My claim was remanded to AMC on April 30 2014. FCas was remanded to AMC on April 30 2014 1 For Gather Medical Records from April 7 2012 to present. 2. then schedule veteran for a psychiatric examination. 3. make determination for the following PTSD/ANXITY,DEPRESSION/BIPOLAR DISORDER. IS THIS AS OPEN AND SHUT AS IT SEEMS OR am I IN FOR A LONG WAIT.
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