The VA Disability Claims Process
The VA claims process has many steps. Each step has its own requirements (and sometimes its own accompanying forms). The following is meant as an outline of the appeals process.
- File an Intent to File Form (Form 21-0996). The filing of this form serves as a placeholder and saves your effective date. No details of your claim is required with this form. After filing, you have up to one year to submit a formal claim.
- File your formal claim (Form 21-526). This is your initial claim paperwork. After this filing, the VA will begin processing your claim.
- After development, the VA will issue a Rating Decision.
- If the Rating Decision is not a full grant of the benefits sought, you may file a Notice of Disagreement with that decision (Form 21-0958). You have one year to file this Notice of Disagreement.
- The VA will issue a Statement of the Case.
- If the Statement of the Case is still a denial you may submit a substantive appeal (VA Form 9). This appeal must be made within 60 days of the Statement of the Case. At this point you may request a hearing before the Board of Veterans' Appeals.
- The Board will then issue a decision.
- If the Board issues a decision denying the claim(s), you have 120 days to appeal. Appeal may be made to the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC).
- If the CAVC denies the claim, you may appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
- Finally, if a denial is still made, the final Court of Appeal is the United States Supreme Court.