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How Long Does a VA Appeal Take?

Going through the VA appeals process can be intimidating, to say the least. If your initial claim was rejected, this threatens your likelihood of receiving the disability benefits you’re entitled to. Now that you’re appealing that decision, what can you expect in the way of timelines? Is this something that takes 3 months or 3 years? And is there anything you can do to expedite the process?

How Long Does the VA Appeals Process Take?

Going through the VA appeals process can feel like a long and uncertain road. If your initial disability claim gets denied, you may need to appeal to have another chance at obtaining the benefits you deserve. But how long does filing an appeal take? Could it be months or even years before you get a resolution? Here's an overview of common VA appeals timelines and factors that impact the wait.

Timelines Vary by Appeal Type

The timeline for a VA appeal depends largely on the type of appeal chosen after filing a Notice of Disagreement (NOD):

  1. Supplemental Claim: Submit new evidence for review. Takes around 4-6 months for a new decision.
  2. Higher-Level Review: Have an experienced adjudicator re-review your existing claim file. Typically takes approximately 125 days for a new decision.
  3. Board Appeal: Appeal directly to the Board of Veterans Appeals. On average this takes 1-2 years for a hearing and decision from the Board.

Filing a supplemental claim or higher-level review tends to be faster, while Board appeals take longer on average. But even within the Board appeal type, wait times vary based on whether you request a hearing or a review of records.

Other Factors Impacting Timelines

Beyond the appeal type selected, other factors impact wait times, like:

  • Current claim backlogs at VA Regional Offices and the Board
  • Availability of evidence required for your appeal
  • Extent of development work needed by VA
  • Access to legal representation to help expedite the process

It's also important to understand appeals can involve multiple steps like remands, re-filings and escalations up to higher appellate levels. This extends the total resolution timeline.

Connecting with a VA Disability Attorney

Given the variations and uncertainties inherent in VA appeals, working with an expert VA disability attorney is strongly recommended. At our firm, we handle the appeals process end-to-end:

  • Evaluating your options after an initial denial
  • Gathering documentation to support your case
  • Filing appeals paperwork and communicating with VA
  • Representing you at hearings with care and tenacity
  • We relieve the burdens so you have skilled legal advocates fighting for your rights each step of the way. Contact us to learn more or get a free consultation started today.

The VA Appeals Process Step-by-Step

Below is a high-level overview of the typical stages in the VA appeals process:

  1. Review the Decision Letter: Begin by examining the decision letter from the VA. If any disagreement or perceived error is found, an appeal may be necessary. Consulting a VA disability attorney can offer clarity and guidance.
  2. File a Supplemental Claim: Instead of jumping directly to an appeal, consider filing a supplemental claim first. This involves introducing new, relevant evidence that wasn't initially reviewed. The help of an attorney can be instrumental in identifying pertinent evidence and strengthening the claim.
  3. Request a Higher-Level Review: If you choose not to submit new evidence, or after submitting a supplemental claim, you can ask for a higher-level review. This involves having a senior claims adjudicator re-examine the initial decision.
  4. File a Board Appeal: If the results from the supplemental claim or higher-level review aren't satisfactory, the next step is appealing to the Board of Veterans' Appeals. Legal representation is crucial at this juncture.
  5. Request a Hearing: Along with the Board appeal, there's an option to request a hearing with a Veterans Law Judge. This isn't mandatory, but having a lawyer can be especially helpful in preparing and navigating this stage.
  6. Consider Further Appeals: In case of disagreement with the Board's decision, you can either appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims or reopen the claim with fresh evidence.

Once a VA appeal results in approval for benefits, it usually takes 2-3 months after the claim finalization for the VA to issue any retroactive back pay.

Appeals Modernization Act Updates

The Appeals Modernization Act (AMA) is a significant piece of legislation that was signed into law in 2017 in the United States. It fundamentally reformed the appeals process for veterans' disability benefits administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The primary goal of the Appeals Modernization Act was to streamline and modernize the VA's appeals system, which had faced significant backlogs and delays for many years.

Let's Connect to Fight For the Benefits You Deserve

The VA appeals process can be complex and lengthy. But with an experienced VA disability lawyer on your side, you can improve your chances of success. Contact us today at 877-715-9300 to get started!


The stages of the VA appeals process are:

    1. Initial Review and Decision: This is where the VA gives its Initial Rating Decision based on the claim submitted.
    2. Supplemental Claim or Higher-Level Review: If there's disagreement with the initial decision, a veteran can submit new evidence (Supplemental Claim) or request another review without new evidence (Higher-Level Review).
    3. Notice of Disagreement: If unsatisfied with the previous reviews, the veteran can file a Notice of Disagreement, leading to an appeal with the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA).
    4. Board of Veterans Appeals Decision: The BVA reviews the case and makes a decision. This might include a direct review or, if requested, a hearing with a Veterans Law Judge.
    5. Appeal to the United States Court of Appeals: If the decision by the BVA is still unsatisfactory, the veteran can appeal further to this court.

Ready to work together? Contact us today for a free consultation.


If you or a loved one have been injured and think you might have a case, call us now for a free consultation.