Why Do VA Appeals Take So Long?

Let’s start at the beginning.

A veteran or claimant begins the adjudication process by filing a claim(s) for entitlement to a service-connected disability at one of the many local VA regional offices.  A VA employee called a Rating Specialist develops the claim(s) by gathering evidence, then decides the claim and sends it to the veteran in a Rating Decision.  If the veteran/claimant disagrees with any determination made in the rating decision, they appeal by filing a Notice of Disagreement or NOD at the local regional office.

After the filing of a NOD, the claim moves to the regional office’s appeals section and will now be handled by a Decision Review Officer or DRO.  The VA statistics say that the wait time from filing an NOD to receiving a DRO decision is nine months.  This statistic understates the wait time for many claims.

If we are talking about poorly-represented claims, which DROs routinely deny, then yes, nine months is a reasonable estimate of the wait time.   But claims — which are properly developed and prosecuted and have a much better chance of success – may take much longer.   By properly developed and prosecuted, I mean:

An effective veteran’s representative will make sure that all of these procedures are completed.  In a word, the proper development and prosecution of a claim(s) takes time, more than a year, and sometimes two or three years.   And, of course, it goes without saying, the VA’s growing backlog of cases adds to the delay. Consider using a Veterans Appeal Attorney, like those at Veterans Law Group, to assist you with your appeal.

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