Veterans know that the disability claims process can be cumbersome and time-consuming. While they wait for a decision to be made, many disabled veterans are delayed in getting the help they need. Fortunately, the VA offers a way to fast-track benefits requests by submitting supporting evidence with their claims. A New Orleans veterans disability attorney can help you utilize what is called the Fully Developed Claims (FDC) program.
The FDC is an optional way to file for disability compensation. A veteran may participate in FDC by gathering all evidence for the VA to consider when evaluating the claim. The veteran certifies, upon submitting the claim, that no additional evidence is needed to make a decision.
The typical disability claim prompts an evidence-gathering process so the VA can make its decision. This, of course, takes a significant amount of time and is typically fraught with delays. Conversely, the FDC program allows the VA to bypass this step and thereby make a quicker decision.
An FDC may be submitted for the following:
- Illness or injury (condition) that was caused by or got worse because of your active-duty service
- A condition that was caused by or got worse because of a disability the VA already determined is service-connected
There are several steps the veteran must take in order to submit a fully developed claim. First, the claimant must complete and submit the Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits (VA Form 21-526EZ). Along with this, the veteran submits all supporting evidence related to his or her claim.
Next, the claimant must certify there are no other records that might be needed to decide the claim. Finally, the veteran must go to any medical examinations the VA requires in order to make its decision. The VA will notify the veteran if he or she needs any exams.
The records that must be submitted with the FDC include:
- All private medical records related to the claimed condition. This includes reports from the veteran’s doctor or X-rays and other test results from a non-VA hospital or treatment center.
- Any records of medical treatment the claimant has received for the claimed condition while serving in the military.
- Any military personnel records the veteran has which relates to the claimed condition.
- Information about any related health records the veteran doesn’t have that the VA can request on his or her behalf.
Not all service records contain accurate or complete descriptions of the claimed disability. For this reason, the veteran may submit other forms of evidence which substantiate claimed conditions. These include letters from friends, family members, or those with whom the veteran served. Also, the VA maintains an online FDC checklist for the various records that will be needed. A New Orleans veterans benefits attorney can assist with this process.
Many veterans worry about what might happen if they forget to include a crucial piece of evidence with their FDC. However, the program is risk-free. If the VA determines it needs more information, it will process the claim as a standard one. The veteran will be notified of this decision. Whether the claim is processed through FDC or the traditional route makes no difference in the value of the benefits. Nor does it affect the attention given to a particular claim.
A veteran has up to one year to complete the FDC once he or she begins the application process. Once approved, the claimant is paid back to the day he or she started the claim.
Work With a New Orleans Veterans Benefits Attorney to Process Your FDC
As with most VA disability claims, there are other, more detailed steps the claimant must take. In the event a claim is denied, the veteran will want to act fast to appeal the decision. Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC, is experienced with the benefits process and can help with your fully developed claim. Reach out and let us help get you started on the path to the compensation you need and deserve.