...may be the most often asked question that we hear.
Unfortunately, there is no answer that will satisfy. The time it takes
to complete your claim is entirely unpredictable. You will receive your
decision usually between 12 to 24 months after you file it.
We do not believe there are reliable VA resources that will give you accurate
information regarding the status of your claim.
This means that calling
the toll free number, using IRIS or attempting to get intel via the
eBenefits site is a waste of your time.
Skeptical? Think about it. When you are told that your claim is "in the decision phase", what do you think that means?
The "decision phase" is the time period from the moment your claim
enters the building until it is adjudicated and a decision letter is
mailed to you.
Most claims that are received aren't even looked at in the first
few weeks (sometimes months) after they arrive in the VARO.
How To Track Your Claim
You can't. Forget about it.
There is no system in place that allows you to view the status of your claim or any progress it may be making.
All of the places VA provides like IRIS, the toll free number, that
Ebenefits site and so on don't work. Those things do not go to your
Regional Office where your claims folder (C-File) is located, they go to
Those are provided as distractions to keep you occupied while VA
operates in nearly total chaos. They don't know where your folder is on a
given day. They aren't going to take time to find it for you and tell
you anything that's happening.
VA uses the rational that if they opened up phone lines to veterans so
that you could talk to them, you and 1,000,000 others would probably
call and bitch about it every day.
Time taken to reassure you is time taken away from working on your claim.
If you have to know the status of your claim because you are in financial trouble, you have already made your first mistake.
VA is not responsible for your financial woes. VA does not approve
benefits because you need the money. VA approves benefits only because
you have a service connected condition that meets the criteria to be
awarded a benefit.
The system is really very simple.
You file a claim. If you did it the smart way, you sent your claim in
yourself and provided all the data VA needed. You mailed it using
Certified Mail and Return Receipt Requested.
You got that little green postcard back so you know that your VA Regional Office got your claim. It made it into the mail room!
From the mail room the claim is triaged to the appropriate stations. It may go to compensation, education, home loans and so on.
It gets in line. The line is huge. There are 57 VA Regional Offices and
there are over one million claims in the backlog. The VA receives more
claims each day than it resolves. The backlog grows every day.
Your claim is in the line in the order it was received. You get no priority because you need the money...everybody needs the money.
Your claim may be headed to a section where 10 people are working. As
each one closes a claims folder and sends out the award letter, he or
she makes room for the next folder in that long line.
That's it. There's no mystery to it. Your claim is not tracked daily or
weekly or even monthly. It's just sitting there in line waiting its turn
on the desk of a rater.
I tell vets who ask me directly that from the day they file a claim to
the day they get the award letter will be at least one year, more likely
I advise that the veteran plan to get a denial, not an award. It's my
guess that 70% of all initial claims are denied. You will have to appeal
and that will add two more years.
That means you should plan your living expenses accordingly. Don't rely
on VA money coming to you next month so you can make the mortgage
payment. Plan and spend as if you will never get any VA money...you may
But...you're one of those who decide that you can't wait. You're mad as hell and you're going to do something about it.
You call your Congressional Representative demanding action.
In that office is a person designated to help you. They get these calls
each and every day. They know the drill. The Military and Veterans
Liaison in your Congressperson or Senators office will take your info
and then initiate a Congressional Inquiry.
The Congressional Inquiry is a routine form that asks the Regional
Office what the deal is with your case? VA has a designated staff that
will have a look and reply. They have about 45 days to do that.
The VA Regional Office people will pull your folder for review. This is
not a review of the decision, it's only a look at the history of your
file to see why it's taking so long.
The answer is written up and sent back to that Congressional Representative.
The great majority of these inquiries are answered with, "It's all good.
The veterans folder is in line for processing. We're sorry for the
Unless your case is weird and has something unusual happening, it gets back in line.
However...it has now been even more delayed. It may not get back in line
where it was...it could go right back to start. You've just contributed
to the delay.
If you filed your claim less than one year ago, don't try to discover
where it is. You should have received the little green receipt. Then you
should receive some arcane paperwork from VA that acknowledges the
claim is in process.
Around 3 to 12 months after filing you should get notice of a C & P
exam. Once you have your C & P exam, you'll wait another 3 to 12
Plan on 2 years start to finish before you get a denial and then go into an appeal.
The MMWR isn't accurate. They fudge the numbers in an attempt to look
good. But overall you can get a pretty good idea of how backed up your
However...that isn't always a good indicator because of "brokering"
claims to other Regional Offices. If your claim is way behind and your
VARO is at max output, your claim may be at another VARO for processing
there. Nobody will tell you about that or just how it works.
Be patient. Take a hobby like reading War and Peace in the original language.
Your claim will be done when it's done and no sooner.
The most requested answer recently reflects your frustration with the
delays of the backlog of claims. I get dozens of inquiries every day
that have "How long will it take to...?"
"after my VA C/P exam how long until a decision is rendered"
"deceased vietnam veteran with in-service stressor with pending claim
for ptsd, anxiety, depression, hypertension for service connection with a
gaf score 35 and PT spouse filed a 21-534 with the VA claim is now with
VA representative how long with the development stage take before sent
to the rating board"
"How long after Notified agent orange prostate cancer claim put on Fast Track"
"with a va appeal how long after c and p exam do you get a decision"
"how long it takes to rating of nehmer claims"
The answer is as simple as it is complex. Your claim will be completed
when it is and not before then. With some claims, this will be 6 months
or even (rarely) less. With most claims, the process from start to
finish will take 1 to 2 years.
There is a backlog of claims at VA. It is currently believed to be about
one million claims deep. Claims are processed in the order that they
Once the process begins there is no way to speed up your claim or to get it done ahead of others who were in line ahead of you.
Your best bet is to have submitted a claim that is completed as it
should be and to have handed it over to your VARO by certified mail,
return receipt requested.
Then you wait patiently.
Calling VA daily won't help. There is nothing to do but wait as the process completes.