As a reader of this blog you know that I have recently transitioned from Active Duty and am now enjoying life on the civilian side of the fence. One of the big parts of transition is the eligibility for a disability rating from the Veterans Administration, and recently my status in that regard changed.
Let me back up a bit. I began my transition well over a year ago (in the summer of 2011), and as I went through the required and optional transition seminars I was educated on the benefits that all honorably discharged veterans are eligible to receive. As a retiring Marine, I learned that I was eligible for more benefits than those who served one or two enlistments (such as pension and access to VA medical care for myself and an entitlement to TRICARE for my family). Such benefits are great! They were earned through over a quarter century of service in uniform and no small amount of time getting shot at in combat zones.
In addition to VA medical care I, and all veterans, are evaluated to determine whether or not we are eligible for a disability rating as a result of the maladies, wear, and tear that we experienced while serving in uniform. It is perfectly reasonable to be evaluated for any such problems, but unfortunately the time it takes for the claims evaluation process to reach completion is far from speedy.
This month I received a couple of notifications from the VA. The first was a letter that is identical to the letters that preceded it telling me that my claims process was still under review. Not surprising, really, because the average time to review and approve a case is well over a year, and mine has only been in the hopper for about ten months now.
When I logged into the VA ebenefits website, however, I saw that there was some progress. Hooray! My status had changed from “Preparation for Decision” to “Regulatory or Procedural Review”. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I am optimistic that it is an indicator of progress.
I drilled into the website to see what the new status reflected. Here is what the website said:
Claim Received: 08/17/2012
Claim Type: Regulatory or Procedural Review
Estimated Claim Completion Date: unavailableWe are currently unable to provide you with a projected completion date for this type of claim. Please await further claim status notification for this Regional Office.
Hmmm. That tells me pretty much nothing at all. I read on…
We will review all available evidence and make a decision on your claim upon receipt of all requested information as outlined in the headings, “What Do We Still Need from You?” and “What Have We Done?”.
Several factors will determine the duration of the “Development” phase, including:
- type of claim filed
- number of disabilities you claim
- complexity of your disability(ies), and
- availability of evidence needed to decide your claim.
Now that sounds promising! My case is in the “development” phase! I still don’t know what that means, but I am hoping it indicates progress.
At any rate, my claim is wending its way through the claims process, and it looks like movement forward is occurring. I hope that those of you out there in the same boat are receiving similar updates, too. A word to the wise, however: Don’t wait for the VA to tell you about your updated status via the postal service, because they likely won’t. My letter from them this month didn’t tell me anything new. You should be checking the VA website (www.va.gov, specifically the ebenefits tab) frequently to see if your status is moving forward. Otherwise things may be going on with your claim that you are unaware of.
Just a word to the wise….keep up on your claim! After all, if you don’t, who will?