The VA disability claims process depends entirely on both you and the VA taking definitive action. For example, you begin the process by taking the concrete steps of applying for benefits, including attending your C&P exam. The VA responds by taking definitive action on your claim by either approving it or denying it. The process continues with each level of appeal: you complete the necessary paperwork to file your appeal, and the VA rules on that appeal.
This is how the process is supposed to work, but not every veteran experiences this definite action-reaction dynamic. Some veterans have the unfortunate experience of applying for benefits and then not hearing anything in return. When the VA does not respond to your claim or appeal, knowing what to do next can be a puzzle.
The Fear: Has the VA Denied Your Claim?
In some contexts, not hearing anything back after reaching out to someone is an implicit rejection of you. For example, suppose you apply for a job and do not hear back from them for several weeks past the date they said the employer said they would touch base with you. In most cases, you are safe assuming that you did not get the job.
As a result, you might panic if you do not hear back from the VA about your claim or appeal. If the VA has denied your claim, you only have a certain amount of time to appeal that denial. Failing to do so within that time limitation can mean starting the claims process over and losing out on back pay.
The Fact: VA Claims Can Be Pending for Years
This is not true when it comes to VA disability benefits, though. The case Ingram v. Nicholson clarified that the VA does not act on a claim until it takes some definitive action to adjudicate it or move it along. Otherwise, it remains pending – even for years – and the veteran need not reapply or fear losing out on benefits.
The Future: What To Do If This Happens to You
While it may be some comfort to know that your claim is still active, you still will not get any disability benefits unless and until the VA takes action. Familiarize yourself with the average timelines for the VA disability claims process. If your claim is taking longer than expected, either you or your San Francisco VA disability benefits lawyer at Unruh Law can contact the VA and investigate the delay.
The Benefits of Calling a Professional California VA Disability Lawyer
Contacting the VA and getting a stalled claim moving again takes time and persistence. You can do it yourself, but having a skilled VA disability lawyer working for you relieves you of this pressure. At Unruh Law, that describes why we represent disabled service members before the VA: we want to alleviate the stress of applying for VA disability benefits and help you get the benefits you deserve quickly.
If your claim is stalled or if you have any questions, contact Unruh Law at (833) 753-5168 or by using our website.