Going to the mailbox is somewhat of a Roller Coaster ride for me. Sometimes it’s an awesome trip and I comeback with a Netflix movie I’ve been waiting for, or a Motor Trend Magazine with a practical midsize sedan on the cover. This only happens a few times a month, but more often I open the little mail box door to find bills, letters from the college I attended asking for alumni donations, and even statements from doctors saying that I owe them money. I hate those days.
I have to imagine that Veterans filing for Disability have the same outlook on the mailbox. Almost every correspondence from the VA comes in the same type of envelope. You get one hoping that it’s a favorable decision, but more often than not, it’s a denial, a notice to come in for an exam, or something like a VCAA. However, a VCAA is not necessarily a bad thing.
If you return from the mailbox with a correspondence from the VA, there are a few quick ways to tell if you have a VCAA once you have opened the envelope. On top of the first page, on the left hand side, you will see the department of Veterans Affairs Seal. In the middle of the first page, you will likely see a grey block that reads in white letters “Important Reply Needed.” In addition to these elements, you will also see the words “Veterans Claims Assistance Act.” This happens to be where the acronym VCAA originates.
Now that we know how to spot a VCAA, what is it, why is it a good thing? First of all, the Veterans Claim Assistance Act is an actual Act passed by Congress in November of 2000. However, I write this blog for Veterans who are trying to seek out information on the Disability process, not attorneys. With this in mind, I will skip the details about the Act, and focus on the VCAA you receive from the VA.
The VCAA is good because it indicates that the VA is not only working on your case, but also progressing with your claim. This generally means that they have received you initial application, or appeal, and need additional information. For instance, if you have indicated that you seek treatment at a private facility for PTSD, the may state in the VCAA that they need those records. Or, the VA may ask that you fill out one of the thousands of forms they hold so dear. They will also include the forms required in the envelope with the VCAA. This is actually really convenient.
The VCAA isn’t all good though. I will say that this is one of those times that having an attorney is really beneficial. We find that most of the stuff being requested by the VA via the VCAA has already been submitted to the VA. Not everything of course, but more often than not. As a law firm, we keep track of all evidence submitted, and it is easy for us to see what they actually have on file. If you don’t have a great system for showing what has been sent, you may end up send things multiple times.
Also, the VCAA states that your have only 30 days to submit evidence. This happens to catch the eye of most of our clients and send them into a slight panic. While the 30 day time limit is true, it’s also not true at all. The 30 day limit is if the VA is going to make a decision soon after the VCAA is released. Trust me, I would love nothing more in this world for a decision to come back that quickly after a VCAA is issued, but that rarely happens. The VA backlog, which used to be a national story until a Kardashian did something stupid, really negates the 30 day rule. In other words, you can submit evidence at any time. It is important to note that the quicker you get evidence in to the VA, the better it is for your case.
If you would like to know more about what we do, or would like to talk to me about your case, give me a call via our toll free number: 1-877-526-3457. Or, fill out this form, and I’ll call you.