When veterans file a claim with the VA, they expect their claims to be approved or denied. However, sometimes the decision will come back deferred.

For example, if a veteran files for tinnitus, PTSD, and knee conditions, the VA may have enough evidence to approve the first three but not the fourth. Often, this is because the evidence submitted is repetitive, not new and relevant, or unpersuasive.

What Is a Deferral?

A deferral is simply a decision by the VA that it has insufficient information to either approve or deny your claim. It can occur in various circumstances, but it most often happens when multiple claims are pending. For example, you may have filed for service-connected tinnitus, PTSD, a knee condition, and headaches. The information available to the VA would allow them to approve the tinnitus and PTSD but not the knee or headaches. In this situation, the VA will typically issue a deferral for the other conditions and wait until they have enough evidence to decide on the gastro disability.

A deferral can also happen when newer evidence is submitted to the VA, but the rating examiner believes this does not offer additional insight into your condition. This can be very frustrating, but the VA must assist you throughout the process, and they must continue to try to find additional information for your case.

What Can I Do to Avoid a Deferral?

Veterans often receive a deferral because the VA does not have enough evidence to approve or deny their claim. You can prevent this by submitting the best possible medical records and other documentation from the beginning of the process. The veteran’s VA claim deferred pending further medical evaluations to gather additional evidence regarding the severity of their service-connected disability.

In other cases, the VA may have enough evidence to decide some but not others of your service-connected conditions. For example, the VA might grant your claims for PTSD and hearing loss but defer your claim for migraines.

VA might also defer your claim if you seek disability ratings for multiple conditions. In this case, the VA might have enough evidence to decide on one or more of your conditions but needs more information for your other condition(s). Avoid getting a deferral by submitting as much strong evidence as possible throughout the entire process. For instance, consider scheduling to provide unbiased medical evidence and collecting buddy statements—or testimonials from those who know you well—to help support your claims for benefits.

What Can I Do to Overcome a Deferral?

A deferral is not a decision; it’s simply a pause to give VA time to gather information and make a fair and accurate decision. During this period, you should continue to submit additional evidence to strengthen your case. Medical records are critical to your claim, so they must be complete and up-to-date. If you have any missing medical records, you can request them from your physician or the VA. Additionally, it is helpful to include lay statements (from friends and family members) that provide a personal account of your condition and how it has affected you.

In one example, a deferral veteran overcame it by providing an independent medical examination and buddy statements that provided unbiased medical evidence and personal accounts of the effect of their condition on daily life. Through this and other proactive strategies, he was able to get his claim back on track for a favorable determination.

What Can I Do to Avoid a Confirmed and Continued Decision?

The VA has a statutory duty to assist veterans throughout the process of filing claims. Sometimes, the VA cannot decide on your claim because they need more evidence. They could need additional medical information or clarification from your C&P examiner or may be waiting on a new examination.

Once the VA has the information they need, your deferral will end, and you’ll receive a ratings decision. The veteran service representative (VSR) on your case will explain what is required and what has been submitted.

The VA will also have a chance to review any additional evidence you submit and decide whether it is “new and relevant.” The information must offer more than what was presented before your deferral began. This is why they encourage veterans to use their services when filing a claim and to submit as much evidence as possible.