Veterans seeking to expedite their VA disability claim can see if they meet the requirements for priority processing. Qualifying veterans submit VA form 20-10207, with supporting evidence, to request a quicker decision on their disability claim. With priority processing, most initial disability applications are expected to receive a decision faster than the average time of 104.1 days.
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In this article about expediting your claim
- Expediting VA disability claims
- How can I speed up my VA claim?
- Expediting a VA disability claim for extreme financial hardship
- Expediting a VA disability claim for terminal illnesses
- Expediting a VA disability claim for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Expediting a VA disability claim for serious illnesses and injuries during military operations
- Expediting a VA disability claim for age
- Expediting a VA disability claim for former prisoners of war (POWs)
- Expediting a VA disability claim for Medal of Honor or Purple Heart Award recipients
- How long does a VA claim take?
- Expedited appeals process for VA-accredited representatives: Claim Accuracy Requests (CAR)
- How Woods and Woods can help
Expediting VA disability claims
The VA disability claims process can sometimes feel like a city highway during rush hour—slow-moving and frustrating. Luckily, for some qualifying veterans, there is an express lane: the priority processing request. And while there’s still plenty of traffic in all lanes, the express lane moves a bit faster.
How can I speed up my VA claim?
The VA has created a priority processing request procedure for veterans who qualify to have their VA disability claims expedited at a VA regional office (VARO) and at the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA). Veterans experiencing extreme financial hardship, terminal illnesses, or effects from a serious illness or injury that ended their service can receive priority processing. This expedited option is also available for Medal of Honor recipients, Purple Heart Award recipients, former prisoners of war, and veterans of advanced age.
To apply for priority processing, qualifying veterans complete VA form 20-10207, a three-page application, and send it to the VA along with their supporting documents or evidence.
Expediting a VA disability claim for extreme financial hardship
Being eligible for disability compensation and having a difficult time working to earn an income go hand in hand. Because of this, the VA will expedite claims of veterans experiencing extreme financial hardship. The VA will consider eviction notices, past-due bills, or collection notices as evidence, but a Veterans Service Center Manager (VSCM) can make that decision even if that documentation is unavailable.
With the Priority Processing Request, the VA recommends submitting copies of any available:
- Eviction notices or statements of foreclosure
- Notices of past-due utility bills
- Collection notices from creditors
Expediting a VA disability claim for terminal illnesses
Veterans with terminal illnesses need expedited answers and support.
“When working cases, the biggest consideration is chronic and terminal illnesses,” said Zack Evans, a VA disability lawyer at Woods and Woods. “If you do not have much time, you need a quicker decision.”
When determining if a veteran should receive an expedited claim process, the VA considers the likelihood of a veteran passing away before the VA could complete a normal claims process and any urgent needs for disability support.
Veterans are asked to provide medical evidence of terminal illnesses. They can either provide medical records with their Priority Processing Request or they can allow the VA to access their treatment records by submitting VA Form 21-4142 (Authorization to Disclose Information to the VA), and VA Form 21-4142a, (General Release for Medical Provider Information to the VA).
Expediting a VA disability claim for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Lou Gehrig’s disease
U.S. veterans are diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, at a greater rate than non-veterans. More than 1,000 veterans die from this disease each year.
ALS also qualifies veterans for a presumptive service connection, which means if a veteran served for at least 90 days, the VA presumes the veteran’s military service was as likely as not the cause of the ALS and does not require proof of a connection between their condition and military service service–called a nexus. Because ALS is a rapidly progressing disease, the VA expedites disability claims for these veterans.
Veterans must provide medical evidence of ALS either by submitting medical records with their Priority Processing Request or allowing the VA to access their treatment records by submitting VA Form 21-4142 and VA Form 21-4142a.
Expediting a VA disability claim for serious illnesses and injuries during military operations
Veterans who were seriously injured or became seriously ill from a military operation and were discharged because of it are eligible for expedited claims.
Veterans must provide copies of military personnel records and medical evidence of the serious disability. The VA recommends submitting a copy of a determination from the Department of Defense with their Priority Processing Request. Veterans can provide medical records with their request or allow the VA to access their treatment records by submitting VA Form 21-4142 and VA Form 21-4142a.
Expediting a VA disability claim for age
All veterans age 85 or older are eligible to request priority processing for claims pending before the VARO. For claims pending at the BVA, veterans over the age of 75 may file a Motion for Advancement on the Board’s docket, which will expedite the processing of their appeal, if the motion is granted by the Board.
Expediting a VA disability claim for former prisoners of war (POWs)
Former POWs are eligible for expedited disability claims.
Veterans must provide supporting information with this request. The VA recommends submitting copies of any available:
- Military personnel records or service number, branch, and dates of service
- Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty
- Information relevant to the detainment, including dates, location, and detaining power
Expediting a VA disability claim for Medal of Honor or Purple Heart Award recipients
Veterans who have received the Medal of Honor or a Purple Heart can have their disability claims expedited.
Veterans must provide evidence with this request. The VA recommends submitting copies of any available:
- Military personnel records
- Information showing receipt of Medal of Honor or Purple Heart
How long does a VA claim take?
The VA’s average time to complete a decision for an initial disability claim that has not been expedited is 104.1 days. The time depends on the type of claim, the number of disabilities claimed and their complexity, and how long it takes the VA to collect and review the evidence. Expedited claims are expected to be faster, but there is no deadline for the VA to respond to any claims, not even claims approved for priority processing.
Expedited appeals process for VA-accredited representatives: Claim Accuracy Requests (CAR)
Since June of 2021, VA-certified representatives, such as Woods and Woods, have access to an expedited process called Claim Accuracy Requests (CAR). This is a pilot program where cases can receive a Higher Level Review if there has been an obvious error. The deadline to take advantage of this process is 30 days after receiving the decision, and the VA will provide a decision within 30 days after receiving the CAR request.
How Woods and Woods can help
Whether you qualify for priority processing of your disability claim or would like assistance with the initial application to avoid errors that lengthen the process, Woods and Woods can help. With a team of experienced lawyers, case managers, and legal analysts, our family-owned law firm helps veterans get the benefits they deserve.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
If your initial application is expedited, you will likely receive a decision faster than the average 104.1 days. However, if your VA disability was denied and you are approved for an expedited appeal, the process can take between 30 days to a couple of years, depending on which appeals process your case needs.
Even when expedited, the VA has no deadline to provide a decision on most expedited claims. However, VA-certified representatives, including Woods and Woods, have access to an expedited process called Claim Accuracy Requests (CAR). The deadline for CAR Higher Level Review claims is 30 days after the date of the decision you are appealing. Under the CAR program, the VA is instructed to make a decision on the appeal within 30 days.
While an expedited appeals process will be quicker than one without priority processing, there is still a wait because the BVA typically decides appeals in docket order. You might compare it to an express lane on a highway during rush hour. All lanes still have traffic, but the express lane moves a bit faster.
No. Hiring a VA-certified disability attorney will not automatically get your claim expedited. The VA has strict guidelines on who can and cannot expedite VA disability claims. However, if you qualify for priority processing, a VA-certified disability attorney will help you complete the correct forms to take advantage of the options for quicker decisions.