How Long Does a VA Disability Claim Take?

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, it takes 103.5 days on average for the VA to make a decision

How long your disability claim will take to be reviewed depends on your claim type, how many disabilities you’re claiming and how long it takes for the VA to collect evidence on your claim.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about the timeframe for VA disability claims. You will also learn how to check the status of your claim. Let’s get started


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Average Processing Time

In general, regular disability claims take around 120-150 days to be processed. However, different types of claims and appeals can take even longer.

Here are the average processing time for the VA for multiple types of claims and appeals

Initial Claims

If you are applying for a VA disability claim for the first time on a specific condition, it will take around 120-150 days to be processed, as said earlier. This includes –

  • Submission of the claim
  • The initial review by the VA
  • Evidence gathering
  • Review by a Veteran Service Representative (VSR), and
  • Decision preparation

In the case of claiming multiple disabilities in a single application, the process may take longer.

Higher Level Reviews (HLRs)

Higher Level Reviews are done when veterans are not happy with the disability rating they have received and want to appeal the VA’s decision. 

During this review process, the initial claim is re-evaluated by a senior reviewer at the VA, and they decide whether to change the initial rating. 

Although this process is also supposed to take 120-150 days on average, the availability of a senior reviewer and the complexity of the claim may make it even lengthier.

Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA)

If you disagree with the VA’s initial decision or even the Higher Level Review (HLR), you can appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. This process takes much longer, with many cases requiring nearly three years.

The reason for such a lengthy period lies behind the process of appealing to BVA, as a Veterans Law Judge reviews these cases. 

Supplemental Claims

A supplemental claim is when you submit more or new information or evidence to influence the VA’s decision on a previously denied claim. 

Similar to initial claims, supplemental claims also take around 120-150 days on average to be processed.

Checking Claim Status

If you want to know the status of your claim, you can follow any one of these methods –

  • Check the status online from VA’s website by signing in to your account.
  • You can contact the VA through their hotline: (800) 827-1000
  • Checking the status in person is possible by visiting a regional VA office.

Factors Affecting Claim Duration

At first glance, the required time to have your claim get processed looks way too long, and there are many reasons for that.

If you are confused as to why your disability claim is taking longer than usual, you should contact the VA and check your claim status. Meanwhile, here are some possible factors that affect the duration of a claim.

The Complexity of the Claim

A claim becomes more complex when it is about disabilities that can be hard to tie back to a veteran’s time in the service, essentially conditions that are hard to service connect. 

Another instance of a claim becoming complex is when the claim includes multiple illnesses or injuries. 

The more complex a claim is, the more time it takes for the VA to go through it. 

Accessibility of Evidence

To give veterans the proper rating for their service-connected disabilities, the VA needs to go through relevant evidence, such as medical documents and employment records in claims. The easier it is to gather these types of evidence, the quicker a claim can receive a decision.

VA’s Workload

The VA usually handles thousands of documents from countless veterans waiting to get their benefits after serving their country. The workload can often be high, and claims can take more time than usual.

Tips for a Timely Decision

A guest post on VA News had great details on how to make your VA claim process as quick as possible. 

In that post, the author pointed out many great key points to follow, and here are some of them in summarized points –

  • Provide enough medical records and evidence to make it easy for the VA to evaluate your claim.
  • If you do not have the records with you, tell the VA where to look for them. For example, your medical records may still be with the military. In that case, let the VA know in your application which division to look to find evidence on your claim.
  • Submit a Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) filled up with your FDC claim to make it faster.

This is where VA Disability Coach can help you prepare a strong claim that should not take too long to process. Moreover, you can be more confident in receiving the best rating for your condition.


Although VA disability claims can take a long time to process, you can make it easier for the VA to give you a decision by providing sufficient evidence and a complete claim. And do not forget to contact the VA if your claim is taking way longer than anticipated.