The process of filing a VA claim can be challenging for anyone, especially when they don’t know what to expect. So, when a claim becomes an appeal, a veteran can find themself asking the question, “How long does a VA appeal take?”.
VA claim filing timeline
The timeline for a new VA claim is currently averaging 103.3 days, according to VA.gov. This number is updated by the VA periodically. The thing to remember is that this is an average. Some claims can be processed more quickly, while others can take much longer.
Types of VA disability appeals
There are three types of appeals for VA disability claims that have been denied.
Higher level review
The first option for review is a higher-level review or an HLR. This must be done within one year of the claim decision and cannot include any new evidence. It is simply a review of the existing claim file by a more experienced reviewer.
The second option for appeal is a supplemental claim. This is simply resubmitting the claim with new and relevant evidence. This can be done any time after a claim is denied, there is no deadline. However, to keep the date of the original claim for payment purposes it would need to be filed within one year. Otherwise, it is considered a new claim with a new effective date.
VA board appeal
The third option is to request a board appeal. Which is the request to have a Veteran Law Judge review your claim. This can be filed by mail, in person, by fax or online. This type of appeal takes quite a bit longer than the others.
Deadlines for VA appeals
All appeals must be filed within one year of the VA claim decision letter, with the exception of a supplemental claim. A supplemental claim may be filed at any time but will only maintain the original claim date if filed within one year of the decision letter.
How long does it take to hear back from a VA appeal
It can take months or years for a decision to come back on an appeal. And while there are factors that can affect that timeline, it is almost impossible to know how long a VA appeal will actually take.
Average VA appeal times
The VA does provide average processing times for each of the appeals processes. A higher-level review has an average processing time of 125 days, or 4 to 5 months. A supplemental claim has the same processing time as a new claim, at a current average of 103.3 days. The VA website states that a board appeal takes an average of 365 days (1 year) to process, but if you choose to submit new evidence with the appeal it will take 1.5 years on average.
How successful are VA appeals
In 2021 the VA overturned 10.1% of VA rating decisions, according to the AMA Metrics Report. This means that they changed the prior ruling. However, an additional 23.3% found errors in the original processing and were reopened for a new decision.
According to the Veterans Board of Appeals, 35.75% of appealed claims were approved in 2018.
To improve your chances of having your denial overturned you need to educate yourself on the rating criteria for your condition and gather as much evidence as possible. This evidence should include medical treatment records. There are many professionals who can assist you with preparing for your VA disability claim appeal.
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This information is made available for educational purposes only. This information is not a substitute for legal or medical advice. United Veteran Benefits Agency makes no guarantee of the outcome on VA rating decisions.