Q: Why is my claim taking so long?
A: It is known that the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) is currently experiencing a huge backlog creating extracted claims processing times. While there are many different types of claims and waiting times for each, there are a few actions you can take that may speed up the process.
The first action is to locate and utilize an accredited service officer to assist in filing, tracking and reviewing your claim. Accredited officers are trained professionals, accountable for their actions while counseling and representing veterans. These officers are of utmost importance to ensure a quality product is submitted and a rating, with proper legal basis, is completed. American Legion accredited service officers provide service free of charge; locate one in your area by visiting www.legion.org/serviceofficers.
The second action has two parts. First, the claimant must be properly counseled on what documents to submit and the accredited officer should advise the claimant on how to procure information and documentation applicable to the proposed claim. The claimant must be advised of any action which, when taken during the normal claims processing timeline, may slow the speed of adjudication.
Providing additional evidence, while the claim is in the development phase, causes the VBA to return the claim to initial development phase for consideration of the new evidence. File all documents and information in tandem with the initial claim, or within the Veterans Claims Assistance Act period, if possible. Requesting copies of documentation in the claims file will hold up a claim.
In response to the request for information, the file must be pulled from the developmental stream and moved between sections of the VA regional office or sometimes between two completely separate regional offices. A Congressional inquiry will cause undue delay because the file must be pulled from the developmental stream and reviewed by senior management personnel. And a status letter must be sent to the respective Congressional office.
The above situations are not inclusive of all actions and occurrences that slow down claims. The overriding lesson here is that all claimants should seek professional assistance from an accredited veteran service officer.
Do you have a question for Department of North Carolina Service Officer Cajun Comeau about the claims process or veterans benefits in general? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.