The Rating Activity or “Rating Board” is where most veterans want to have their claim. This is where the claim for benefits is decided. The RVSR (Rating Veteran Service Representative, or “Rating Specialist”) is the person who rates a veteran’s claim. They review the entire C-file to insure it is ready to be rated, and schedule any C&P exams that may be needed if not already done so by the Pre-Determination Team. If a C&P exam is needed they go ahead and do the paperwork to schedule this. Once the RVSR has all the needed paperwork to rate the claim, they make their decision. If the RVSR determines that there is something missing from the claim to make a decision, they send the claim back to the Pre-Determination Team for further development. Once they have reached their determination, they produce a rating decision with their decision and forward the C-file to the Post-Determination Team.
The Appeals Team handles appeals in which the veteran has elected the DRO review. They also handle any remands that have been sent back from the BVA and the Court. The Appeal Team is a self-containing unit within the Regional office. They make determinations on appeal, make rating decisions that are on appeal, do any developmental work on any issue that may be on appeal, and issue any SOC’s and SSOC’s in conjunction with their review.
The Public Contact Team’s primary functions are to conduct personal interviews with, and answer telephone calls from veterans and beneficiaries seeking information regarding benefits and claims. In some regional offices, depending on their workload, also handles IRIS inquiries and fiduciary issues.
As one can see the VA claims process can be complex. In essence a veteran’s claim is continuously going from one team to another until it has been decided. This process can be rather lengthy depending on what regional office has jurisdiction over your claim and their pending workload. During this process a veteran may want to find out the status of their claim. This should be done through the VA’s IRIS website inquiry system. Through this inquiry system, the veteran will get much more accurate information then by calling the 1-800 number. The 1-800 will only connect you to the regional offices “Public Contact team.” These employees aren’t really trained to deal with the different processing stages and so forth and aren’t able to give very accurate information in that regard. The intention of the 1-800 number and the Public Contact team is really to give general benefits information and send out forms to claimants, not to try and track a veteran’s claim. Furthermore, veterans’ claims aren’t like tracking a UPS package where it travels in a straight line to its end destination. Veterans’ claims will end up bouncing from team to team at the regional office until all of the work required to make a decision is done.