When you apply for veterans’ disability benefits, your claim can take a long time to process. This is simply because the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has to process a huge number of claims on an ongoing basis. On average, it takes the VA around 153 days to process a claim.
For many applicants, this can be an excruciatingly long amount of time. This is particularly so if your disabilities are severe and you have financial obligations to meet. Fortunately, you have other options if you don’t want to wait for this long and wish to speed up the claims processing.
VA Fully Developed Claims (FDC)
The Fully Developed Claims (FDC) program is a kind of Fast Track system that VA offers for veterans disability benefits claims. In contrast to a regular claim that you may submit as a disabled veteran, the FDC program allows you to submit a more detailed claim. This means that you are required to do more leg work when filing the claim. VA offers FDC program for only certain types of disability compensation claims.
A great thing about FDC claims is that it makes you eligible to receive retroactive benefits. These are the past benefits you may have lost because of being late in applying for veterans’ disability compensation.
Who Can Apply Thorough the Fast Track Program?
As noted above, not all veterans’ disability compensation claims can be filed through the Fast Track program. The basic eligibility requirement for filing through the Fast Track program is as follows:
- The claim you file must be your first claim for VA benefits
- Your claim is about one or two disabilities
- If your claim is for more than two disabilities, you have the requisite supporting documentation which you can submit. Such documentation may include medical records about your disabilities and other evidence regarding your service.
Evidence Required for Fully Developed Claims
When you are applying for disability benefits through the FDC program, you must submit the relevant evidence. The precise evidence you are required to submit ultimately depends on the type of your claim.
If your claim is about one or two disabilities, you are not formally required to submit the relevant evidence with the application. However, submitting evidence can still speed up the claims processing. On the other hand, you must furnish the relevant evidence if your claim is for more than two disabilities.
Such evidence includes:
- Your military service record from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC)
- Your in-service medical records from the VA Medical Center (VAMC)
- Your non-military medical records
You can mark your NPRC and VAMC records for the VA to collect. Alternatively, you can gather these records on your own and then submit them along with your claim. The latter is preferable as it can further speed up the processing of your claim.
It is possible for you to file a claim first and then submit evidence later, especially if you are still in the process of gathering such evidence. It is important to write to VA after submitting your application to confirm that you will briefly share the evidence. In general, you have one year after submitting your application to provide the relevant evidence.
Applying in the FDC Program
If you intend to apply for veterans’ disability benefits through the FDC program, you are required to submit designated forms provided by VA. Specifically, you must submit the VA Form 21-526EZ for FDC claims. This form requires you to provide the details of your military service and service-connected disabilities.
You may further need to submit other forms depending on the nature of your claim. For instance, if you claim that you are also unemployable due to your service-connected disability, you may need to fill in the VA Form 21-8940 which seeks more compensation for you based on your unemployability.
Hiring a Reliable Greenville Disability Lawyer
If you are applying for veteran disability benefits, the regular claims process can take a long time. The FDC program may be a viable option for you to speed up the process. Even when applying through the regular process, it is important to make sure your application is complete. This improves your odds of success and prevents unnecessary delays down the road. Here at The Robert Surface Law Firm, we help you submit VA claims that are complete and backed by the relevant evidence. Contact us today to discuss your claim in a free consultation with our lawyers.