The VA Decision Ready Claims (DRC) program allows veterans to submit VA compensation claims and get a decision in 30 days or less. Long VA claim processing times are one of the most common veteran complaints about the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system. This is a problem that affects those who plan to retire or separate from the military, but also for those who have already done so and who currently await VA decisions on their claims for compensation.
That issue is directly addressed by The VA Decision Ready Claim (DRC) process which is advertised as offering participating veterans a decision on VA claims within 30 days of submission.
Who Can Apply For A VA Decision Ready Claim?
At the time of this writing, to file a DRC the veteran “must have previously filed a VA claim and received a rating decision from VA on that claim.” Please note that this rule does not include Pre-Discharge or DIC claims (see below).
Those filing pre-discharge claims (with less than 90 days of military remaining before discharge) may file DRC if they do not have circumstances which fall under a list of exclusions. The VA official site lists the exclusions which also apply to those and other DRC claims.
Exclusions For All Disability Compensation DRCs
The Department of Veterans Affairs will not approve Decision Ready Claim applications for the following circumstances:
- Waiting for a decision on a pending disability claim, unless the claim was submitted via the Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD) program.
- Currently appealing the condition applied for under DRC.
- Filing a claim for a previously denied condition.
- Claims rated at 100% for the condition.
- Filing a direct service connection DRC for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water, and conditions related to Mustard Gas or as a Former Prisoner of War. Exception: Pre-Discharge claims involving PTSD, and/or TBI may be processed under the DRC program if an in-service diagnosis has been documented on examination.
- Filing a claim for a disability incurred during a prior period of active duty for training or inactive duty for training, unless there is VA claim filed prior to discharge.
- Filing a claim for military pension.
- Claims filed by incarcerated veterans.
- Veterans claiming Individual Unemployability.
- Veterans filing claims for a Special Monthly Pension.
- Veterans applying only for Special Monthly Compensation.
- Applicants living outside the United States.
- DRC claims filed without the signature of the veteran.
- Claims for Chapter 18 (Spina Bifida) or other birth defects for dependent children.
- Those filing restricted access claims including VBA employees, relatives of VBA employees, National Service Officers, or high-ranking government officials.
What Kind Of VA Claims Can Be Submitted Via Decision Ready Claim?
The Department of Veterans Affairs says the following types of claims may be submitted using the DRC process:
- Direct Service Connection Claims for a condition caused by or during military service.
- Presumptive Service Connection Claims for conditions or disabilities the Department of Veterans Affairs “automatically presumes to be service-connected based on unique conditions or situations” during military service.
- Secondary Service Connection Claims for medical issues that are the result of another service-connected disability.
- Increased Disability Claims for VA disability ratings that have gotten worse.
- Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) Claims for surviving spouses of Veterans who died as a result of service-connected injuries or diseases and rated 100% disabled due to service-connected conditions for 10 years prior to the death of the veteran.
- Pre-Discharge Claims who apply with less than 90 days remaining before their separation from military service.
There is one caveat-using the VA Decision Ready Claims process requires the applicant to work with an accredited Veterans Service Officer (or “other accredited representative” according to the VA official site) to submit the paperwork.
How Do I Submit A VA Decision Ready Claim?
DRC applicants must follow the required procedures as described on the VA official site.
To submit a DRC, you must:
- Work with an accredited Veterans Service Organization (VSO) or other accredited representative that you designate as your representative for the claim.
- Gather VA-required evidence to support the VA medical claim.
- Attend a VA claim exam where applicable prior to having your VSO representative submit the claim.
What Kind Of Documentation Do I Need To File A VA Decision Ready Claim?
The VA official site lists the general types of paperwork needed to file a Decision Ready Claim. That documentation includes:
- Federal records.
- Medical records.
- Completed Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs).
- Any other relevant evidence that supports the claim.
- Service Treatment Records (STRs) where applicable.
- Veteran death certificates where applicable.
Applicants may need to have their Veterans Service Officer request a VA Claim Exam, also known as a Compensation and Pension Exam prior to submitting the claim. This process is also expedited under DRC and may be possible much faster than usual.
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