Get the Fastest Claim Decision: File a Fully Developed Claim

When I talk to my friends about filing a VA claim, I hear the same response: “Isn’t there a checklist for this stuff?” It’s a fair question. Whether you spent four or 34 years in the military, we are all very familiar with “the checklist.”

There were safety checklists, pre-flight checklists, checklists for deployments, changes of station, adding dependents, and the longest checklist I remember – the separation/retirement checklist. In the military, we like checklists about as much as we like acronyms because they keep things simple. We hear you – VA needs a checklist on how to file a digital claim for compensation through our new Fully Developed Claims program (FDC) – the fastest way to get a decision. Here it is:

1)  WHAT IS FDC?  A program designed to rapidly process VA compensation claims.

2)  WHAT KIND OF RECORDS DO YOU NEED? Military personnel and treatment records are vital to establishing your claim for compensation.  Military personnel records can contain deployment orders, pay records, medals and certificates not reflected on the DD-214. Obviously, your military treatment records may keep a log of any conditions or injuries you suffered in service.  Other federal records, like those from Social Security Administration (SSA), are often necessary too – they may contain a lot of medical evidence and sometimes even evidence as to the cause of a disability.  Non-federal records, like medical files from your private doctor, are also important to establishing your claim. These can tell us the degree of your condition, if it has become worse over time and general information needed for rating purposes.

3) WHY SUBMIT AN FDC?  You get a faster decision because it saves VA time.  When you file a claim, the law requires VA to make an exhaustive search on your behalf to obtain service records and other relevant evidence held by federal agencies and requires VA to ask at least twice for relevant evidence held by private parties, unless we get them on the first request.  This translates into months of waiting for evidence before VA can decide your claim.  By submitting all your evidence with your FDC, identifying any relevant records held by federal agencies and verifying that you have no more evidence to submit, you shave a lot of the wait time off the process.

With an FDC, VA will still collect all federal records you identify.  What we won’t do is spend time asking for non-federal records like private medical files.  We also won’t ask for National Guard and Reserve medical and personnel records, which are usually in the custody of your unit or state.  So, if you are or were in the National Guard or Reserve, make sure you go to your units and obtain those records.  Right now, it takes us more than 300 days on average to obtain National Guard and Reserve records, and if you don’t submit them with your FDC, we will have to process your claim the traditional way.

There is no risk in filing an FDC — if we find that there is a piece of relevant evidence you did not submit, but should have included (like private medical records), we will obtain that evidence on your behalf and process your claim the traditional way.

The Fully Developed Claims checklist (click to expand)

4) HOW DO I FILE AN FDC?  Go on to the internet and log on to your eBenefits account.  Click Apply for Benefits and then Apply for Disability Compensation.

eBenefits will guide you through the process. You can answer the questions and upload all your supporting evidence all at once, or you can start and save your claim online, collect your supporting evidence and log back in to finish applying.

Once you hit Save, you have one year to return to eBenefits, upload your evidence and click Submit.  Don’t forget to save – in many cases VA may be able to pay benefits as early as the date you first save that application. Your Veterans Service Officer can also log into the Stakeholder Enterprise Portal – a VSO’s window into your eBenefits account – to look over your claim and give you advice before you press Submit.

5) WHERE IS THAT CHECKLIST YOU PROMISED?  Follow the checklist below to make sure you submit the right type of evidence for your compensation FDC claim.  If you have questions about what is relevant, call VA at 1-800-827-1000 or contact your VSO:

FDC CHECKLIST

Identify Federal Records, if any (not all of these may apply to your claim)

  • If you received VA medical care, tell us where and when
  • Tell us if you receive Social Security benefits for a service-related disability
  • Tell us where your Military Treatment or Personnel Records are, if you know, or where your last duty station was
  • Identify any other relevant records in the custody of a federal agency, like federal worker’s compensation (OWCP) or the Public Health Service

If you have a copy of your Military Treatment or Personnel records, or records from other federal agencies, save time by submitting them with your claim by uploading them to eBenefits.  If not, VA will go get them, but this will slow down the claim.

Gather Records (not all of these may apply to your claim)

  • If your private doctor is treating you for a service-related disability, get a copy of those records
  • If you don’t believe the incident is recorded in you military records,  get statements from you, your friends or family explaining in detail why you should be service connected
  • If you are or were a National Guard / Reserve member: include all service medical and personnel records in the custody of your unit (Collecting and submitting these will expedite your decision because they are difficult for VA to collect). VERY IMPORTANT!

Upload the documents you gathered to eBenefits

  • Scan the documents
  • Under the Upload Documents tab, select Manage Files
  • Upload your documents

Verify you have No More Evidence

  • If you have additional evidence to collect and submit, SAVE your record now. You have one year to collect and upload additional evidence.  During this time, a VSO can log-on, view your application online and provide guidance on filing an FDC before you submit the claim.  When you have finished uploading your evidence you are ready to

Click Submit

6) MORE ABOUT COLLECTING AND SUBMITTING EVIDENCE

To get the fastest, most accurate claims decision, collect and submit the following evidence along with your online application: 

Private health care:  It’s important to collect and send all of your relevant private medical records.  This reduces the time it takes VA to request and wait for these documents from your private physician.

Statements from friends and family:  These optional statements may be useful to describe when onset of your disability, details about the injury or event that caused your disability (if they were there and saw it), and the disability’s impact on you.  These types of statements are especially helpful if the disability or event or injury that caused the disability is not recorded in your military records.

Personal statements:  You are your own best advocate. While VA and VSOs stand by ready to assist, both need to hear from you why you think you should be service-connected, especially if the incident or condition is not recorded in your military records.

Once you have collected all your supporting evidence, log back into eBenefits and upload all your documents. There is no limit to number of documents you can upload, but each file must be 5 megabytes or smaller (about 150 black and white pages at 300 resolution).  Once you verify that you have no more evidence, VA can start processing your claim right away. If you do submit more evidence after you submit the claim, VA will remove your claim from the FDC program and process it through our regular channels. For more tips on submitting your claim, click here.

The FDC program is the fastest way to get an accurate decision on your VA claim.  By ensuring you submit all your evidence with your claim, you allow us to get you an accurate decision as quickly as possible.

Cat Trombley is a public affairs specialist with the Veterans Benefits Administration. Prior to working for VA, she was an assistant director at a Veteran Service Organization and represented Veterans before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. She is also an Air Force Veteran.

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80 Comments to “Get the Fastest Claim Decision: File a Fully Developed Claim”

  1. Kelly says:

    What if you already submitted a standard claim with all your medical records, even had a C&P exam and I am still waiting. If I go through the FDC does my date of filing originally get erased? I submitted all my records completely tabbed for each medical condition with all records. It still took 8 months and all these letters asking for records – whihc AGAIN I tabbed and gave them in a nice binder. Everything is documented very clearly so I don’t know why its taking so long and a year later I am still in gathering of evidence.
    So this FDC will pay right away?

    • Cat Trombley says:

      Hi Kelly,

      Although you seem to have done all work upfront and submitted all the evidence with your claim, your claim will be processed as a traditional claim. FDC is a special designation for Veterans who submit all evidence and then certify they have no more evidence to submit at the time they send their claim. My advice is that if you believe you have already submitted everything, do not submit duplicate evidence. Every time you do, you claim goes back to the development phase. The letters you are getting are required by law. I know the wait is frustrating. Right now we are working our oldest claims first — those over one year old. Our employees are working overtime to get to your claim. Hang in there, we will get you an answer. Thank you for your service.

      • Edward Stoltenberg says:

        FDC, fast track, its all a lingo to cast an image that people are being taken care of when in actuality we are not. I am an OIF veteran who filed paperwork while still on active duty. I have not been contacted for over 4 months for follow up appointments even though the VA representative on the installation said fast track will have appointments with doctors scheduled in 60 days. The website says it will now take up to a year?!

        I am beginning to think I should contact a disability lawyer for cutting through red tape (I won’t be paying for it as the fees are provided through my current employer). Has anyone had any luck with this?

    • Mike says:

      Been trying to upload my completed application for 1.5 weeks now, but keep getting a VDC error message. Called every VA/Ebenefits help desk to include the 1-800… Number, and nobody knows nothing! Is the Vic upload app down?

  2. Jerry says:

    It all sounds great if it actually worked!!

  3. Ronald L. Marcotte says:

    Congress needs to do a serious congressional
    Hearing on the VA on claims for hundreds of
    Years V. A. Has done every thing in their power
    To deny Veterns of the compensation they deserve.
    I bet ninty present of Americans think veterans
    Get medical care because their honorable discharge
    Not its all based on their disability rating. The lower
    The rating the less health care you receive .

    • Cat Trombley says:

      Ronald,

      Its true your rating has bearing on how much you pay for VA medical care. But remember, Veterans have multiple opportunities to provide the needed evidence so VA may grant the claim and there is no limit to how many times a Veteran reopens a claim. Also, Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan get 5 years of health care for free at VA medial facilities. Thank you for your service.

    • Doc Hames says:

      You are correct about this and they messed up and gave me proof which I am going to share with CNN or a local News Station so everyone can know what is going at the Regional Office(s). I want Secretary Shinseki to answer to the News about why his staff is falsifying “Federal Documents” because if I am correct, this is a Federal crime.

  4. Lenore Carswell says:

    Can you use this system to file an appeal or is it only for filing a new claim or adding to a claim?

    • Cat Trombley says:

      Hi Lenore,

      At this time its only for claims, not appeals. However we are working on ways to streamline appeals like we did our claims processing system. Thanks for your service.

  5. Ret ssgt Robert Casella says:

    l am just checking on my disability claim, sent in Aug 2012/ thank you. RRC

    • Cat Trombley says:

      Robert,

      I cannot check the status of your claim (and please NEVER post your private information in public forums). You can check the status in ebenefits (www.ebenefits.va.gov), by calling 1-800-827-1000 or through IRIS (https://iris.custhelp.com/). Thanks for your service.

  6. Carlos says:

    Hi,

    You column would be convincing if not for one thing. I have submitted all documents to the RO at Montgomery beginning 2005. I was finally awarded something but told to submit other qualifying information for the remainder. This was done in 2005. As it turnded out, RO at Montgomery had held back some information as misplaced.

    Not even the Military National Archives could tell what happened to my records. But, then BVA realized this and informed Montgomery to send me copies of my military records. Now, that was 2010, or 2011. Ironically, they are validating this part of my claim as a new claim. When in fact, this claim is old say 2000.

    I suppose with the new mandate by the executive branch from the Top man to the secretary of Veterans Affairs, things have gone from snail pace to put-putt. But, they are still holding up the remainder of my claim because this new claim which is not new at all. Go figure.

  7. BARRETT CAIN says:

    Viet Nam Veterans still have a long wait and are pushed to the back of the line.

    • Pat says:

      Viet Nam Veterans can use fast tract to file their claims. Which make the time frame shorter than it would if they use the regular process. As for the FDC that do not shorten the time frame the VA as all the information to do my claim but my claim that was file September 2012 as just move to the gathering evident stage after more than 8 months.

      • Cat Trombley says:

        Pat,

        Did you file on a 526EZ? Did you certify at the time you submitted your claim that you have no more evidence to submit? if not, the claim is not considered an FDC.

    • steven harris says:

      Stop complaining veterans. We have one more fight .Contact every newspaper editor , send letters and emails to television stations informing them of what’s really going on. Tell them about all the lies that the vets are told , why some in the va get bonuses for such a poor performance .The new fdc program is a JOKE and that the idea is to deny claim and move them to the appeal section giving the appears of clearing claims. OPERATION ONE MORE BATTLE BEGINS NOW

      • Clifton Owens says:

        I agree we need to bring this to the media. This isn’t right!

        • Clifton Owens says:

          It’s ashame that the enemy gets treated better and more respect than they give us. This is a sad day for us VETS. It’s not right. It hurts me to even say Im proud of myself for making that move to serve. Just to get looked down upon for making such a risky move the start with. I kid you not. I made some changes to my file after got a divorce and I kid you not, that it took them as little as 3 weeks to start taking back money from me. But I have older claims still in the system. Something is going on here. I’m putting together some buds and taking is to the streets. We are going to protest. We all need to make the move. This is the only way.

          • Greg Perry says:

            I am a disabled Navy vet ( was injured back in 86-87, back and neck injury ) the only dr’s I have seen are from the VA. My last job was at the VA Hospital in Houston. I figured that as a vet, and all my dr’s are there, that they would be more understanding. NO WAY, I got fired after 4 years of working there for missing too much time off of work due to my disability. That was 2 years ago now, still fighting the VA but Was able to get Social Security Disability, which they used their Dr’s and statements from my VA Dr. Approved for SSDI, but no VA unemployability due to service connected conditions. Just crazy, I have been submitting my documentation over and over ( it is ALL VA documents ). I am at a loss as to what I can do now. Too bad we don’t have anyone that will help up fight the VA.

    • Cat Trombley says:

      Barrett,

      Vietnam Veterans received priority processing for the new presumptive due to Agent Orange exposure. During that time, many claims (including mine) was pushed to the back of the line. Personally, I did not mine because I knew a generation of Veterans were finally the priority. VA is now working our oldest claims. We have completed 97% of all claims older than two years old (many were this old because they were submitted at the same time the new presumptive conditions were announced) and have started working all claims older than one year. I assure you, no era of Veteran is pushed to the back. Thank you for your service.

      • thomas jaeger says:

        Have had a claim in for agent orange conditions since 2011. All of my health care has been with the VA. But my claim lingers and there is no communication from the VA. They still ask for documentation that they can get and when I send them what they want I never really know if they received it except when I get a return receipt from the Post Office. The ebenifits website is worthlless it is never updated. I guess I have waited over 40 years so what is a couple of more years right? thanks for thanking me for my service.

  8. Bill says:

    I did ALL of this, and it ended up being an utter waste of time. I had military records listing my disability, examination records from qualified specialists, job records listing injurious duties, records of times & types of injuries, buddy letters, articles from various medical journals, you name it. I read the Veterans Survival Guide and followed its recommendations to the letter, spent over a year assembling a PERFECT claim, and what happened? Nothing. The very morning that I was to appear at a hearing to present my well founded, comprehensive and fully developed claim I was called by my DAV NSO and told that my one perfect opportunity was being canceled in favor of yet another C&P exam. At the exam, the GP told me up front that she was “not that familiar with my condition.” Guess the VA rule about reading submitted evidence before a C&P exam is actually just a suggestion. Long story short, incorrect diagnosis, appeal, second exam (by a PA this time, not a specialist as per my request) who told me that the VA was not required to furnish a specialist and whose contempt for my claim was exceeded only by his unwillingness to listen to me. Second incorrect diagnosis mirroring the first (quicker that way-saves time to just repeat instead of doing the reading), De Novo review, denial, formal appeal, records in DC somewhere, still waiting three years later. Please, please, please do our vets a favor and stop printing sunbeams and rainbows. The actual claims process doesn’t really work this way, people-the way it actually works is that when the VA is called on a bad decision the prescribed response is to make the exact same mistake again. Bitter? Absolutely.

    • Cat Trombley says:

      Bill,

      I worked appeals at the Board and I have seen many appeals as you describe. However, that is the minority. By law, VA can have a nurse give an opinion — in many cases I have seen nurses and PAs give more favorable opinions than physicians and specialists. Every claim is unique. Are there cases that are more complex (especially on rare diagnosis)? Absolutely, but the appeals system was built for cases like yours. I’ve been through it personally and I’ve worked in it so I know how frustrating it can be. That is why I chose to work at VA right now, because it is addressing the problem with proven solutions.

      To clarify: in order for a claim to be an FDC, the Veteran must submit all evidence AND certify that he or she has no more evidence to submit at the time they send the claim to VA.

      Hang in there, continue to work with DAV and hopefully you will find the resolution you are seeking. Thank you for your service.

  9. James Farley says:

    I did that still have not herd anything still have not herd any thing on a VA form 9 or a BVA remand been trying since 1992 to get my claim settled. They come up with the same reason as to why they denied me. They also perjured themselfs in a 2008 contact letter stating my 1986 thru 1989 service was not honorable when in fact it was. Very frustrated veteran. They never sent any copies of adverse actions done in May of 2011 just prior to a bord in june 2011 either. Tell me

  10. James Farley says:

    I did that still havent herd a word. I had a BVA hearing in 2011 still havent herd a word about the remand. I filed a va form 9 recently still havent herd a word. I sent in new evidence still havent herd a word. Been messing with this since 1992

    • Cat Trombley says:

      James, this program is new and the Veteran has to certify that he or she has no other evidence to submit. In 1992, this program was not in existence and is not available on appeals. If you sent more evidence, it may require VA to do another look and continue development on the appeal at the RO or AMC, which could prolong the process.

      • Clifton Owens says:

        This is just another system that was contracted out wasting even more tax payer money, and more than likely have no effect on nothing. The real problem is that the VA need to hire qualified people to work and make real changes.

  11. Robert J. Karberg says:

    This is GREAT news for all veterans! I wish I would have know this 2 years ago. In February though I did receive a decision from the VA but have since challenged their decision because of incomplete information. Is there a like form or procedure to expedite my challenge? It’s been almost three months and I have not received a response. Just curious.

    • Cat Trombley says:

      Hi Robert,

      I hear you, my claim was two years old as well. That is why I am excited about this program, by using it we wont have to ever wait that long again.

      Did you submit new evidence and ask for a reconsideration? or did you file an Notice of Disagreement to initiate and appeal.

      • Don Jacuk says:

        My experience filing a claim could not have been easier. My first claim was resolved within 6 months, my second within 3 months. Thank you VA. My issues were the result of service in Viet Nam.

  12. Christina says:

    This is a lie. I know a friend that filed his paper work with his VA officer directly at the VA office over 14 months ago and they still haven’t gotten around to getting all his paperwork in order.
    He has had to do all the leg work. They said they would do it all and he would have a decision within 6-9 months.
    Well here it is 14 months later and they keep pushing back his decision date. They keep telling him it all depends on everyone’s merit. NO that is not the case. He has all the documentation of his problem happening from when he was in the service but they won’t make a decision.
    But he knows friends who have had heart attacks from drinking & smoking all their lives & they file a claim and they get decisions in less than 6 months. Where is the fairness in that? That stuff NEVER was caused from service related injury but they get a decision right quick. And get FULL benefits.
    Where is the justice in that????????????? Makes you wonder just WHO the VA is for anyway…………………

    • Cat Trombley says:

      Christina,

      It does not sound as if your friend filed an FDC. It sounds more like he would have been a great candidate for the program though. Every claim is unique. Some are straight forward, others require more of VA. If the Veteran claiming heart disease served in Vietnam, then the claim will be approved based on presumption. Other considerations are claims where there are a number of years between service and the claim — those are typically more complex due to the time gap.

      I will tell you that we are currently working all claims older than 1 year (having finished 97% of claims over 2 year old). So we will be getting to his very shortly.

      • Jeremy says:

        I doubt very seriously that 97% of claims 1yr old or older have been processed. Mine must be one of the 3% that has not been addressed. Mine was filed about 1 1/2 yrs ago. I was asked for supporting documentation 6 months after filing it. Since then I have not heard a peep from the VA concerning my claim. A simple “get lost” would be better than ignoring a VET.

  13. Michael Cochran says:

    I had my DAV vet rep file a fully developed claim (date of claim 06/27/2011) for ischemic heart disease in 2011, I received a decision (positive) on my fdc on 05/15/2013. the award date was 05/14/2013. This was a very simple decision to make and all relevent information was supplied with the original claim. I believe that this claim took WAY to long for a fully developed claim and was greatly disappointed in this “fast track” method of deciding this claim. Thank you for allowing me to vent. Mike Cochran.

    • Cat Trombley says:

      Michael,

      Wow… you are absolutely correct that is way to long for any claim, but especially an FDC. Does your DAV rep know if the claim was kicked out of FDC for any reason (like needing more evidence)? Also, what was your regional office?

  14. Don Gower says:

    Good Article, however wasnt the last 10 or so great ideas the VA had supposed to accomplish the same thing; faster more efficient processing of claims? I for one have had an open VA disibility claim (service related) for more than 3 years…..Did everything correctly, buddy statements, submitted all required medical documents on time, ect. Still goes round and round.

    Time will only tell!

  15. ray says:

    I work at the V.A. and I can tell you that I’ve heard NOTHING about claims getting resolved faster!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Cat Trombley says:

      Ray,

      Suggest you read HeyVBA and Hey VA (our internal blogs). Do you work for VBA, VHA or NCA? If not VBA, then I suggest you meet up with your VBA counterpart and ask about FDC.

  16. Ken says:

    How much more fully developed can a claim be than one that was already adjudicated but never paid due to an adjudication officers mistake. When trying to appeal that mistake the VA required it to be a new claim and it is now well past due.

    Original decision with all documentation is held by the VA. All they have to do is read it and pay per the rating.

  17. It does not matter what you submit or how organized your claim is, the VA will drag its feet as long as they can. I have fought the VA for benefits for years and it is always a battle. Calling their number will not get you any information as they try and hide it from you as much as possible. The process is designed to to discourage vets and try them to give up.

  18. CG says:

    I am a spouse of a Vietnam veteran with 3 tours. In the last 22 months he has developed and been treated for ischemic heart disease with treatment including 5 bypasses, bladder cancer with treatment being removal of the bladder, prostate cancer resulting in its removal and now lung cancer all of which have been linked by private physicians as related to his exposure to agent orange. The ischemic heart disease claim was submitted in April 2012 and was being processed UNTIL we started a new claim for the lung cancer……now they have returned the entire claim, including the original heart disease claim back to gathering evidence and combined all illnesses into the original claim. What frustration. Not sure what is issue is other than a huge amount of claims to be processed. Anyone else had the opportunity to have a full time job research ing and sending information to VA only to receive more delays?

    • Cat Trombley says:

      CG,

      I am sorry to hear of your husband’s health, I cannot even begin to image. Anytime a new contention is started while a claim is pending, VA is obligated to start development for the new contention which can significantly prolong the decision. Have you notified the RO (by calling 1800-827-1000 or through your VSO) of his failing health? We expedite claims like this.

  19. Fred Appling says:

    I have had my appeal sitting in Washington now for 3 years and still have not heard anything about it. I even sent a fax to Jeff Miller to have him look into this situation and all I got was a letter saying they have 6 weeks to do a congressional inquiry. All these VA reps want is for you to give up cause they can’t and won’t do their jobs in a timely manner.

  20. dilana says:

    I filed my claim in march 2003 and still pending at the rating stage. They told me 2 years ago they were fast tracking it because of my condition with my kidneys and because i was pending homelessness. I now have been homeless for about three years and i cannot get ANY help. I still have not received anything from va. It’s SO nice to know veterans served there country – no matter if it were 3 years or 30 years – and yet our vets are homeless. some living in the extreme heat of the desert like myself while others are freezing in colder states where they get sometimes 10 inches of snow. How we still survive this, i don’t know. very upsetting because it feels like your dieing when your only suffering a pain illness.

  21. James Farley says:

    VSM’s get huge bonus to deny and delay claims as long as possible.

  22. GARY says:

    This sounds good in theory but not in real life. I have been waiting quite awhile for a decision. I do not think that it helps to have VA medical records. Some are my records from years ago are AWOL. My claim is based on some of those records. I think the VA just wants us Vets to go away and give up.

  23. Andrew J. Garcia says:

    Having implemented a computerized filing system is okay for newer claims coming in. However, I’ve read the oldest claims are being worked on (is that manually ?) a priority basis. Personally, I say this, do a veteran a favor…do it by wars if you will !!! How many outstanding WWII, Korean War veteran claims are still unsettled? With that out of the way done and buried, how bout us VietNam Veterans. To this day, i suffer from PTSD, depression, mood disorders, etc more so today than throughout the 44yrs having served my country in a combat zone. I was in self denial many years since 1969 and sustained 2 divorces, suicidal thoughts and attempts, mad depression, and forced separation from my young children involuntarily. With me seeking help while still inservice i tried my best to salvage an honorable military career and discharge in 1989. All the above mentioned symptoms are the result of my wartime experiences of the past. It wasn’t till on or around 2006-2007 I decided to formally challenge the VA with a fully developed claim (so I thought) Mindful that I had submitted 2 other claims (2003, 2005) both denied for lack of evidence and filed solely directly to the VA Regional Office. I’ve learnt my lesson the hardest of ways. One must get a lawyer to represent you on your behalf to fight with that big bureaucratic office in-the-sky. Having done so, I feel i have been represented well still waiting an answer on my appeal, been to two (C&P) exams both evaluations were questionable, ironically evaluation done by same evaluator, a non-vet. Now it is 2013, on medication for at least 10yrs, waiting over a year now after filing a denial for a hearing. Where, what is the status of my claim? Not knowing or simply waiting for a VA decision for award or denial builds anxieties and sleepness nights, and what/ifs imaginary dreams concocted of how i should have responded in a war zone 44yrs ago.
    I’ll be going on Medicare next month and say goodby to $100 deduction from my Social Security Disability Check., to satisfy the cost of Medicare. If due any financial awards via a favorable VA decision I’m hoping to still be alive then. In the mean time, it is the waiting, not knowing anything, not even an interim status of my claim is what slowly is killing me. I remember being decisive in combat using quick judgment and a responsive calculated move which can either cost lives, or conversely save lives and equipment. Sadly, this indecisiveness, unprompt action to resolve loops not closed is the very substance that is slowly killing our nations veterans who…

    • Shirley says:

      Wow, You just explained my situation from beginning to end. What do we need to do as Vets to get the assistance and service we were guaranteed-I guess die off and maybe the future generations may see the work of our labor.

  24. Jeffrey L. Hardison says:

    How can I get a copy of my military med. records mine were destroyed in a divorce

  25. Stanley says:

    I filled a FDC Feb 1, 2013 St. Petersburg RO it moved to Preparation for Decision Apr 8, 2013. so it moved fast up until that point where it still is. How long are FDC’s taking to complete?

  26. doyle says:

    Hi Cat, nice column. I received my letter that my compensation was granted April 29, 2013 from a claim september 2011. As of todays date JUNE 27, 2013 I have received no compensation, although all evidence required has been submitted.. It was suppose to be a new streamlined notification process . Can you tell me was has possibly happened?

  27. Dennis Fitzgerald says:

    Interesting article, and thanks, we need it!

    I’ve got an point of contention on this whole FDC issue, I attend the Kerrville Texas VAMC and the staff there is wonderful. The Kerrville facility is wonderful and very supportive for the most part.
    That being said, I have tried to get my PCP & my Neurologist (or either of them) to fill out a DBQ on my medical conditions.

    Both clinics, refused to fill out a DBQ, stating that this form is for a C&P exam only and that they cannot/ will not fill one out. When I showed them the VARO Site and description for the use of the DBQ form and that is to be filled out by PCP etc. They just shrugged.

    So if the Vet cannot get a VA doctor or clinic to fill out a DBQ, exactly how is it the VA thinks a Vet can afford to hire a private doctor while they are not receiving disability?
    Oh, they don’t!

    Would love any good answer or help 31/2 years out and still fighting.

  28. Melvin says:

    So basically the people that already have a claim going through the long slow standard process will be screwed over so they can process the FDC first. Well that is how i’m understanding it. I have been in a battle with the VA since 06-07 denied numerous times than awarded a low rating filed 3 increases, 7 denials, and too many lies. So by me keeping my files open while others are using FDC and every year hearing about how the VA has a way to end the backlog instead extends the backlog in California. New plan old results nothing will change so do not get your hopes up.

  29. Malcolm says:

    and wait and wait and wait and wait some more!!!
    I filed a dependency claim back in 2009 and waited… and I waited. So when I called the 800 number there was no record of my claim!?!? So I filed another claim, physically going to the Phoenix Regional VA and sitting down and going through the numbers with a claims rep…
    and I waited…
    So, fast forward to 2012 I filed a claim in February and was told that it would take one 12 months (average wait time)
    I called this afternoon and ended up with THEE rudest person I’ve ever encountered working the phones with the V.A.
    I’ve never been rude to anyone on the phone and especially a V.A. rep!

    My question to her was simple, does it normally take this long to add dependents? She informed me that those claims are in the same pile as the disability claims!?!?! (HUGE eye opener!)
    So I asked her if she had any idea why it was done that way and so on and she says “SIR! Is there ANYTHING else I can help you with today?!?”

    WOW! And she also told me that SHE herself was a Vet…

    Disappointing to say the least! Personally I think you’re all a disgrace to veterans in need!

  30. Dan Elsey says:

    Cat, what a very nice article as our family is about to take on the task of filing for a DIC claim for my father (veteran)who passed away one month ago. It’s been overwhelming–all the paperwork and getting the records/evidence needed as sometimes even that isn’t straight-forward. I had wanted to help my mom file a DIC with all the evidence/statements we could possibly find, along with an explanation instead of submitting evidence here and there as we figured this would take longer. FDC sounds like the answer! Is the FDC process ALSO available for DIC? The issue is that it seems my mom cannot get access to ebenefits as a spouse of deceased veteran. Any tips on how we can successfully submit a fully developed claim and make it easier on the hardworking VA staff and get our decision sooner? Thanks!

  31. ROB says:

    So, even with the IDES process that was laid out to have active military personel have a fully developed claim submited why does it take so long? if there are over 6,000 people that do the claims part at the VA, spread out yeah i know, HOW the hell are they that retarded is it really that hard to look at the condidtion, and the evidence that is provided then refer tot he eCFR? which is a simple monkey can match algorythym ? or are they just a whole bunch of GS-09′s or higher that just site there and google all freaking day? if the claim is fully developed it shouldnt take more than a week for someone to match A-A,B-B,C-C AND GIVE %’S and the VA executives that were getting millions in bonus’ FUCK THEM!

  32. John Ret SMSgt says:

    I have filed two Fully Developed claims (FDCs) and made sure I had everything in order upfront including the DBQ’s done by an outside doctor. My first was submitted in Dec 2012 and was done in only 110 days and my second was submitted on April 10th 2013 “online” and it only took 44 days. So if you do what the VA says up front your claim will get done fast. You can shave off more time by having your DBQ done ahead of time and file it online through eEbenefits/VONAPP. So I’m a beleiver in the FDC program it’s worked for me. My first claim in 2010 took 2 1/2 years of flustrated waiting so this is a nice change to the VA’s way of doing business.

  33. Derrick says:

    I HAD APPLIED FOR MY C&P, WAS FINALLY APPROVED FOR SINITUS, BUT RATED AT ONLY 0%, I TAKE 5 INSULIN SHOTS PER DAY, I WAS DIAGNOSED WITH 50% OXYGEN LEVEL WHEN I TOOK MY SLEEP APNEA EXAM AND I HAVE HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE, ACID REFLUX, NEROPATHY IN MY FEET, 2 EYE SURGERIES, AND ONE MORE SCHEDULED FOR THIS MONTH I WAS DENIED ON EVERYTHING EXCEPT MY SINIS. THEY DIABETIC DOCTOR AT THE VA IN CHARLESTON NOW TELLS ME I HAVE KIDNEY PROBLEMS, WHAT CAN I DO, TO CHANGE THERE DECESION ON MYSELF , I AM TIRED OF MY DAUGHTER WHO IS 10 ASKING ME IF I AM GOING TO DIE. SHE KNOWS SOMETHING IN WRONG WITH ME BUT WE CAN’T GET ANY HELP IS IT ANY EASIER TO GO THRU REGULAR DISABILITY THEN TO GO THRU VA. I DON’T KNOW JUST NEED SOME VERY GOOD ADVICE. PLEASE HELP.

  34. Ramon says:

    Can I, apply for an increase using this process

    • John Ret SMSgt says:

      Yes you can do an FDC for a increase. My FDC Claim I did in Dec 2012 was an increase for my migraines it went from 0% service connect to 50% and it only took 110 days to get it rated (Phoenix RO). You can do reconsiderations also through the FDC program as well. Doing a FDC reconsideration is so much faster than just going to a NOD with the DRO review at the Regional Office. If you don’t get a good result then you can still do the NOD process. Just make sure you don’t bust the 1 year time frame you have to get the NOD in.

  35. doyle says:

    I received my notice of increased compensation dated april 29, 2013 As of this date July 1, 2013 I have not received any additional compensation. The letter said all evidence needed was received and I had a new payment..Do you know what could have happened or is this common. Thanks Doyle also great column

  36. william forney says:

    My disability was upgraded on 28 March 2012, and since then I have been waiting patiently for the compensation that you withheld while waiting for my RPC notification that I do not receive Military Retired Pay. I wrote two letters to your office since then, one on 10 Nov 12, and a second one of 20 Feb 13, and have not received a response to either. I have also attempted to notify your office in Montgomery via telephone and was assured that I would receive the withheld amount “soon”.

    It is now over one year and I hope that you can tell me that someone is working on my request. I do appreciate your help.

  37. T says:

    After 2.5 yrs of waiting, I was homeless and lost everything. I finally got 1 direct deposit and then next deposit didn’t show up. The next month my deposit showed up. So, I’m missing one month’s payment. The VA told me they can’t talk to me about it because I have a fiduciary. The VA told my fiduciary that my money was deposited into someone else’s bank (a completely different bank than mine). The VA told him to file a police report for theft of my money and will not tell us what city and state to file the report in. They said they have to recover the monies from whomever they were given to before they’ll return them to me.

    My direct deposit couldn’t have changed unless I filed a form at the Regional Office & I didn’t.

    Every time I call the VA, I get hung up on. They say they can’t talk to me or send me info because I have a fiduciary. It’s my money and I want to be involved. I’ve concern that there’s internal fraud either at VA or Treasury Dept…maybe money laundering? Without information, I don’t know what the statute of limitations are for reporting and investigating this.

  38. T says:

    After 2.5 yrs of waiting, I was homeless and lost everything. I finally got 1 direct deposit and then 2nd deposit didn’t show up. The 3rd month my deposit showed up. So, I’m missing one month’s payment. The VA told me they can’t talk to me about it because I have a fiduciary. The VA told my fiduciary that my money was deposited into someone else’s bank (a completely different bank than mine). The VA told him to file a police report for theft of my money and will not tell us what city and state to file the report in. They said they have to recover the monies from whomever they were given to before they’ll return them to me. I was told to file a police report against my fiduciary and the VA for missing payment.

    My direct deposit couldn’t have changed unless I filed a form at the Regional Office & I didn’t.

    Every time I call the VA, I get hung up on. They say they can’t talk to me or send me info because I have a fiduciary. It’s my money and I want to be involved. I’ve concern that there’s internal fraud either at VA or Treasury Dept…maybe money laundering? Without information, I don’t know what the statute of limitations are for reporting and investigating this.

  39. nilsa y martinez says:

    TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
    First I am a Veteran. Secondly, I am Service Connected. Third, eBenefits is so out of touch. Forth, I am on day 629 on my VA claim.
    I am facing eviction & homelessness. Many VA programs will not help me until I am HOMELESS. The HVPP will not help me. For Pete’s Sake,
    it is a Homeless Veterans Prevention Program.
    VA sent form 21-4192 to my former employers in Jan 19, 2013 with a deadline of Feb 28, 2013. Regional Rep comes to VA@AL in WA every Wednesday. Since February 2013 I was “UPDATED MONTHLY” and that all was good with my claim. They also said that “ebenefits was not on real time.”
    On May 30, 2013. My Veterans Service Organization, AMVETS, told me that I needed to get my former employers to fill out form 21-4192 .
    Whomever is making decisions is quite obviously not looking at my medical history. It is like they look at my health history as a new patient as oppose to from last compensation paperwork.
    This article in the Tacoma News Tribune Veterans Uphill Road Back is so accurate to real life. It describes most of the Veteran I know, including myself.
    The statement that “The VA just reported it had cut the backlog of claims pending more than 125 days by 15% in recent weeks.” This is an incorrect statement. eBenefits data states that my completion date for my claim should have been in 02/06/13. It was filed on 10/12/11. 624 days later, my Regional Office is unable to provide an estimated completion date for this type of claim.
    When both Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, sent Special Correspondence, they both received the exact same form letter from Department of Veteran Affairs – Seattle Regional Office. Furthermore, they were advised that I should check eBenefits for status. So my question is where does the Regional office think I getting information?
    Supposedly, the Homeless Outreach Coordinator knows about my housing. OMG so funny. When I asked for help I was given paperwork with possible leads.

    I can not work at any job that requires prolonged standing or sitting. I have not worked since 09/2011
    There is plenty of resources available at the VA. Problem is you only hear about it from other Veterans.
    Some of the Case Managers and Social Workers are not aware how desperate some Veterans are or even care.
    As far as mental health at the VA they have many programs and opportunity for Veterans.
    Yet there is no “Road Map” for Veterans to follow. I have been fortunate. I asked for help from everyone. I follow every lead and hope that I can be helped.
    Yet, at times it falls on deaf…

    • Juan says:

      I have my claim since 2000 every year VA gave me some paper they are trying to resolve my claim aned every year I wait, my claim become an appeal recently BVA award me one issue the other are in remand I wait again, I had to apply for SS wich it was approve in 10 months, VA won’t help you to be out of homeless, I have to fight with the bank to gave me some kind of assistance so I can keep my house, you have to be persistence and never give up its frustraiting the waiting, sometimes I tought of end my life, its true the cops was knocking at my door but I can say VA safe my life in that aspect and I appreciate that. I believe that no all VA employee are thinking of the consecuence their long time in decide our claims. Write your Congressman/lady, Senators, the media,,,, Help will come!!!!

  40. Mike Dalrymple says:

    I START MY APPEAL IN MAY 2008 AND THEY HAVE PLAYED GAMES EVER SINCE; IN 2010 AFTER MY C & P IN WRITING I TOLD THEM IN I WANTED TO APPEAR BEFORE THE BVA IN WASHINGTON DC AND IN 2010 THEY SENT MY CLAIM FILE TO SEATTLE WASHINGTON, AGAIN AFTER ALL THE GAMES IT TOOK 18 MONTHS TO GET THAT APPOINT AFTER THE HEARING I HAVE WAITED ANOTHER 8 MONTHS AND I JUST RECEIVED A NOTICED YESTERDAY 07 / 01 / 2013 THEY ARE REMANDING MY CASE FOR ANOTHER C & P BECAUSE IT HAS BEEN TO LONG. THIS IS NOT MY FAULT!!!

  41. Andrew says:

    I recently filed 2 claims through VONAP. All my pertinent info is in the VA system already, as my VA Dr. has been treating me regularly for the last 4-5 years. I do not use my familly Dr. for any of my already regocnized service connected medical issues…same for the issues for which I recently made initial claims for. Yesterday I received a letter asking about more info and to sign and return. Is this the letter that was mentioned by you, that is sent out automatically, by law, and everyone gets one? Since I feel that the VA has all my medical history(they have a complete copy of my medical jacket) and current medical history, do I then sign and return that letter?

    I have been dealing with the VA off and on since 1998. I filed 2 claims for increases over the last 15 years, both were denied. I have been too afraid to talk to any VSO reps about this, my anxiety won’t let me….I get paralysed with fear and can’t bring myself to contact them.

  42. Kevin Baltzley says:

    Hello VA,

    I have a question please:) I have been waiting for a decision since 2009 with regard to my claim(s). I have submitted all medical information I could find and am still waiting on a decision. I was told many times that my cla(s) were in the final development, and although I have supposedly been expidited, I find this hard to swollow since I signed the paper that I have nothing further to add except the medical records I flew to Germany and got myself. I asked the VA for three years to do this for me, and well, that NEVER took place. My point is simply this, when can I expect to have my claim(s) adjucated under the so called “expiditated” mode? I have nothing further to add, and my C & P exams were done 14 months ago and I still do not have a decision. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

    Sincerely,

    ~Kevin Baltzley

  43. Patrick says:

    MY ebenefit has not been updated in over 9 month. I am being to that some of. System does not update ebenfit so what’s the purpose and why keep telling me to check a program that sucks. If as much time was spent on claims as time wasted on these NEW SYSTEMS the process would probably be better.

  44. James L. Young says:

    Another important point: Many veterans don’t realize that the VA (which delivers benefits and services) is different and administratively apart from the Veterans Benefits Administration (which receives claims, evaluates and approves or denies them). VA staff only administer benefits and services for which VBA has already determined the veteran is eligible. It’s almost like trying to represent yourself before the I.R.S. It can be done but more often is grossly time-consuming/wasting, confusing, frustrating, and results in failure due to all the nuances, semantics, and administrative pitfalls. A veterans’ organization is often an effective and more simple solution for the veteran who wishes to file a claim.

  45. James L. Young says:

    All of this is good advice, but I maintain — from personal experience — that working with one of the veterans’ support organizations — Like Disabled American Veterans, VFW, etc. — can enhance and help expedite a VA claim. VBA claims-people seem to take more notice when the veteran is represented by one of these organizations.

    • James L. Young says:

      Another important point: Many veterans don’t realize that the VA (which delivers benefits and services) is different and administratively apart from the Veterans Benefits Administration (which receives claims, evaluates and approves or denies them). VA staff only administer benefits and services for which VBA has already determined the veteran is eligible. It’s almost like trying to represent yourself before the I.R.S. It can be done but more often is grossly time-consuming/wasting, confusing, frustrating, and results in failure due to all the nuances, semantics, and administrative pitfalls. A veterans’ organization is often an effective and more simple solution for the veteran who wishes to file a claim.

  46. daser says:

    Can I use the FDC process to file a claim for PTSD

  47. CHARLES ABDURRAHIM says:

    I am a service connected vet. I filed a dependent claim in 2011 before my son that is still in school turned 18. He turned 18 in 2012 the cliam was fied in 2011. Once he turned 18 he dropped as a dependent. I called the VA the person I spoke with told me that I had filed the claim roo soon She researcged qbd dound the paperwork and submitted it in sept 2012 Thhis is now july 2013 when I chwck ebenefits it still shows received claim since sept 2012.now my two older sons will be starting new schoos this coming semester I aubmitted that that [a[erwork this past april and it has bot even been inputted in the system. Why in the devil does it take so long? It is only a dependent claim for cheiat sakw

  48. John says:

    I have been waiting 18 months, sent my WTU documents 3 times, one fax, one USPS, then I had to send CERTIFIED so I had the damn receipt PROVING they received it. I sent everything to the Waco Regional Office. In Texas claim processing is horrible and I hate going to the VA near me. Ebenefits is a joke, it does not work. No one on the VA hotline, knows anything, because your “claim” is sitting in a pile of somewhere. Until it hits someone’s desk it’s just gonna sit, remind you these are government paid employee’s. They do not care about your claim. Now with PTSD being so easy to claim, real Army Infantry soldiers who have suffered horrible trauma are stuck in line next to the guy who was washing my ACU’s. This is ridiculous. No wonder 22 veterans kill themselves everyday. Hey maybe, you can hire more arabic doctors, and make me feel like I am bothering you just coming to a psych appointment. 2-3 med management and just throw you on zombie meds so you don’t go psycho and and pull a rampage.

  49. Scott says:

    As a Veteran Service Officer, and a Veteran, I can tell you that when a FDC is submitted properly, results are much quicker. I have had Veterans that I represent get claims approved in 3 months. You do not have to submit a FDC through eBenefits and you can get help from a VSO.

  50. I was recently approved for compensation for some of the claims that I filed. I intend to respond to the ones that were denied. Is there a “fast-track” set up online so I do not have to send in actual paperwork in order to speed up the process? Thank You, GOH
    7-9-2013