Navigating the VA Claim Process: Understanding Types of Claims
As of March 2023, the VA is averaging 120-150 days to process all claims and appeals except the Board of Veterans' Appeals (BVA)
As a veteran seeking disability compensation, it's essential to understand the VA claim process and the different types of claims available to you. The length of time it takes to complete a claim can vary based on various factors, including the type of claim, the complexity of your disabilities, the number of claimed disabilities, and the availability of supporting evidence. To help expedite the process, submitting as much evidence as possible with your claim is encouraged. The VA claim process typically consists of eight distinct steps, which may vary in duration based on your claim's complexity and evidence requirements. It's crucial to familiarize yourself with each phase to clearly understand the overall process and timeline.
The formula for a successful claim involves three key elements: a record of in-service injury or illness, a current diagnosis and continued treatment since your separation, and a VA examination validating the conditions and determining their level. These components combined help establish the link between your disabilities and your military service. Any gaps in this process should be explained through your statements to minimize delays in your VA disability claim.
Now let's explore the different types of claims you may encounter:
1. Original Claim: This is your first claim for disability compensation. If you've never filed a claim for disabilities before, this is the starting point to establish a service connection and seek compensation for your disabilities.
2. Increased Claim: If you're already receiving disability benefits but believe your condition has worsened, you can file an increased claim. Similar to an initial claim, the focus is on gathering medical evidence to support the increased severity of your condition. The VA may schedule a Compensation and Pension (C&P) examination to evaluate your condition
3. New Claim: If you need to file a claim for additional benefits or request other benefits related to an existing service-connected disability, you can submit a new claim. The VA will base its decision solely on new evidence you provide, such as recent medical reports or test results. Past evidence related to previous claims will not be considered for this claim.
4. Secondary Claim: A secondary claim is filed to seek disability benefits for a new condition that is linked to a service-connected disability you already have. For example, if you develop arthritis as a result of a service-connected knee injury or develop heart disease due to service-connected high blood pressure, you can file a secondary claim. The new disability must be directly related to your existing service-connected condition.
Understanding these types of claims will help you navigate the VA claim process more effectively. Ensure you gather comprehensive medical evidence, provide clear statements, and seek professional guidance if needed. Remember, the goal is to establish the connection between your disabilities and your military service to secure the disability compensation you deserve as a valued veteran.